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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

THEO43930: Catholic Social Thought

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


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • to provide an advanced level introduction to Catholic Social Thought (CST), understood as the wider theological and theoretical framework encompassing the official teaching of the Catholic Church on social matters
  • to place CST in its wider ecumenical and moral theological context
  • to offer a critical appraisal of this tradition in relation to other theological and social scientific resources
  • to consider the implications of CST for a variety of social, political and economic questions and issues


  • Review of the official teaching documents of the Catholic Church
  • Exposition of the key concepts running through CST, including the dignity of the human person, the common good, solidarity and subsidiarity, the universal destination of goods and the preferential option for the poor
  • Study of key academic contributions and commentaries
  • Discussion of the application of CST to social, political and economic issues such as migration, poverty and welfare, climate change, economic development, employment and wages, international trade, banking and finance, personal and corporate property rights

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • knowledge and understanding of the official teaching documents together with the major academic contributions and commentaries
  • awareness of the changing historical context addressed by the teaching documents
  • greater awareness of the factual aspects of the major social, political and economic issues under consideration
Subject-specific Skills:
  • skill in the exegesis and hermeneutics of official teaching documents
  • the ability to interpret the abstract concepts of CST so as to bring them to bear on practical questions
Key Skills:
  • advanced research skills, including the identification, evaluation and proper citation of key sources
  • advanced communication skills, including the abilities to construct a sophisticated written argument and to make a clear verbal evaluation of written texts

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

  • Teaching is through seminars in which the leader will introduce the topic but students are expected to participate fully on the basis that they have read and made their own assessments of the relevant texts prior to each seminar.
  • Tutorials (on a one-to-one basis) will offer an opportunity for feedback on assigned work.
  • The essays require students to investigate particular topics, to present their findings in a clear and concise manner and to cite their sources properly, displaying their subject-specific knowledge, subject-specific skills, and key skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 10 5 in term 1, 5 in term 2 2 hour 20
Tutorials 4 2 in term 1, 2 in term 2 1hour 4
Preparation and reading 276
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