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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Theology and Religion


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2021/22


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the main contours of Roman Catholic theology in the Twentieth Century.
  • To examine closely some of the key texts of the two most important theologians of the period, Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar.


  • In this module we will approach the study of 20th century Catholic theology through an in depth examination of the work the two most important theologians of the period, Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar. While the main focus will be the study of central and exemplary texts by each, attention will also be given to the context out of which their work emerged, to interpretive debates arising in the secondary literature, and to the relationship between the two theologians and on-going struggles over their reception.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Critical understanding of key primary texts of Rahner and Balthasar, and of debates in the secondary literature concerning their theology.
  • Understanding of debated issues of theological method
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The ability to critically engage a number of Catholic theologians.
  • To discriminate between the different theologians, articulating and justifying their rational for any particular theologian or approach and assess the relevance of their contribution to 21st century catholic theology
Key Skills:
  • The ability to critically engage a number of Catholic theologians.
  • An ability to identify the relations between these theologians and their sources.
  • To conduct a focused and critically constructive written piece of work on a chosen theologian/s and the theology presented

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • After an introductory session, sessions will combine student led seminar discussion of set texts with tutor led input. Each session will be driven by a minimum reading of chapter/essay length pieces that all students are required to read in advance, and on the basis of which the presenting students will offer a formal discussion paper. The discussion will be the primary means of promoting the students confidence and competence in the conceptual understanding that is foundational to theology. Students will also have a one-to-one tutorials in each term.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 18 9 in each of first two terms 90 minutes 27
Preparation and Reading 273
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

One 5000 word essay.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University