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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Cosmos, Cell and Creator (THET11035)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAn exploration of key issues recently explored in the science-theology field. Attention will be given to Big Bang cosmology, biological evolution, the neurosciences, the soul/mind problem, and the end of the universe. The aim is to foster an in-depth understanding of the role of religious belief in modern scientific practice and the challenge of science to religious orthodoxies.
Course description Academic Description:
This is a core course for the MSc in Science and Religion, but is available to other postgraduate students interested in contemporary issues in the Science-Religion dialogue. The course explores contemporary areas of dialogue and debate between Science and Religion. Among other topics, attention will be given to Big Bang cosmology, biological evolution, the neurosciences, the soul/mind problem, and the end of the universe. The aim is to foster an in-depth understanding of the role of religious belief in modern scientific practice and the challenge of science to religious orthodoxies.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
No specialised prior knowledge of either science or theology is assumed. Quantum mechanics, relativity, cosmology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, the problem of evil, the theology of creation and providence - all of these will form the backdrop to this exploration of one of the most far-reaching intellectual debates of modern times.

Much of the course will be taken up with in-depth study of scientific and theological thinking on the idea of 'reality'. This involves understanding the different accounts of the beginnings of the universe and of life, especially Big Bang cosmology and biological evolution, and of how they can be appropriated within religious understandings of the physical world. Since much of the debate has taken place within the Western world, many of the religious issues concern the specific claims and doctrines of Christianity, but other world religions will also feature as appropriate. Other relevant contemporary areas of research will also be explored, especially in the neurosciences, current research on the soul/mind problem, and the end of the universe/eschatology.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The course is taught by means of eleven classes, each of which includes core content presented by one of the course teachers, a student presentation, and opportunity for class discussion. Except for the very first class, each class will require a schedule of reading to be carried out in advance. Students are expected to engage critically with the reading, and to contribute to class discussion. Assessment will be by means of an oral presentation on a relevant topic (20%), and an essay (80%), which will demonstrate that the learning outcomes have been achieved.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis is a graduate-level course. Please confirm subject prerequisites with the Course Manager.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  12
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 20% - Seminar presentation (1000 words) and participation in weekly seminars

80% - Essay (3000 words)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate understanding of key areas in the current Science-Religion interface, including cosmology, evolution, and the neurosciences.
  2. Engage critically with key textual sources in the field, and with cross-disciplinary conversations.
  3. Develop an awareness of the particular contexts of the contemporary interactions between science and theology.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to deliver a presentation for a seminar and to engage in constructive dialogue across a range of disciplinary backgrounds.
Reading List
Alan Chalmers, What is this thing called Science? (Hackett, 2013).

Philip Clayton and Zachary Simpson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science (OUP, 2006).

Greg Cootsona, Negotiating Science and Religion in America: Past, Present, and Future (Routledge, 2020).

Mark Harris and Duncan Pritchard (eds.), Philosophy, Science, and Religion for Everyone (Routledge, 2017).

Peter Harrison (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Science and Religion, Harrison, ed. (CUP, 2010).

Samir Okasha, Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2002).

Christopher Southgate (ed.), God, Humanity and the Cosmos (T&T Clark, 2011).

J. B. Stump and Alan G. Padgett (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity (Blackwell, 2012).

J. B. Stump, Science and Christianity: An Introduction to the Issues (Wiley Blackwell, 2017).

Wayne Viney and William Douglas Woody, Neglected Perspectives on Science and Religion: Historical and Contemporary Relations (Routledge, 2017).

Keith Ward, The Big Questions in Science and Religion (Templeton, 2008).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserRevdr Michael Fuller
Tel: (0131 6)50 8963
Course secretaryMiss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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