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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, Ministry and Mission

THMN44930: Digitally Mediated Christianity: Aspects of Digital Theology

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

Prerequisites

  • None

Corequisites

  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None

Aims

  • To reflect critically on contemporary expressions of Christianity online or digitally-mediated Christianity, on the impact of digital culture on the practice of Christianity within the digital context and the theological implications of this expression.
  • To enable students to undertake critical study of context-based analysis of expressions of Christianity online across a breadth of cultural contexts, methodologies and ideologies.
  • To provide students with an in-depth understanding of contemporary expressions of Christianity online and their impact on the wider Christian context, to critically evaluate the impact of digitality on Christian expression and practice.
  • To nurture students’ ability to read, analyse and critically evaluate theological reflection on digitality in context, offering a critique of current theological practice and publication.
  • To enable students to give a critical and comprehensive theological account of the experience of digital culture on a personal, ecclesial and societal level.

Content

  • The module will:
  • Study in depth and critically reflect upon key aspects of Christianity online: Bible, community, and Christian practices such as prayer and worship.
  • Examine notions of online personal and religious identity, online Christian ritual and practice, online community and social justice.
  • Explore different methods of critically evaluating the impact of digital culture on religious community and practice – exploring both religious expressions of technological determinism and the social-shaping of technology.
  • Analyse the relationship between digitally-mediated religion and religion online Below is an indicative summary of topics which may be included:
  • Technological determinism and Social Shaping of Technology
  • Exploring Christianity online and online Christianity: Ecclesiology and Ethnography
  • Bible: Digital Bibles, Biblical Literacy, Digital Paratextuality
  • Bible: Case Study: The Impact of Social Media
  • Community: When Religion Meets New Media, Heidi Campbell; Digital Religion, Pauline Cheong et al.
  • Community: Case Study: Fluid Ecclesiology and Digitality in Durham
  • Worship: Second Life, St Pixels, Multiplex – worshipping God online
  • Case Study: St Pixels and i-Church
  • Authority: “The Rise of Digital Creatives”
  • Authority: Case Study: Blogging: conversatio or subterfuge?

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Upon successful completion of the module the students should have:
  • A depth and range of knowledge across the specialised areas of theology and ministry, which are specifically related to Christianity on-line based on a wide ranging, critical study of the relevant literature and which may be informed by research at the current limits of understanding.
  • A conceptual understanding of digitally mediated Christianity, which enables the absorption and evaluation of a complex literature and body of research results. This will include the recognition of the apparent contradictions and ambiguities in the field of Christianity on-line and the wider context of Digital Technology and of areas in which further research is necessary.
  • Explored and critically evaluate the reciprocal relationship between digital culture and Christian practice within that context.
  • Given both a comprehensive and critical account of various approaches to the practice of Christianity in an online context at the personal, ecclesial and societal levels and the role of digitality in personal identity and experience.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Upon successful completion of the module the students should have:
  • The capacity to critique existing theory and practice in digitally mediated Christianity and plan for the appropriate, wise and imaginative development of mission and ministry in complex and unpredictable contexts, in church and society. This will involve the application of both knowledge and understanding to investigate contextual theology, Digital Humanities, digital culture and contemporary society, reaching valid conclusions, some of which may be original, and report these findings effectively within academic conventions.
  • The capacity to evaluate and synthesise research findings in the field of Christianity on-line and the wider context of Digital Technology mission and ministry and identify areas for further research.
  • The ability to reflect theologically in a sophisticated, critical and rigorous manner, exercising sound judgement when engaging systematically and creatively with complex and ambiguous realities in both contemporary church and digital culture.
Key Skills:
  • Upon successful completion of the module, students should have:
  • Acquired and synthesised information through reading and research and presented it clearly and effectively in written format.
  • Carry out systematic and creative research into complex issues and communicate their findings with clarity, sensitivity, fairness and imagination.
  • Deployed effective autonomous study, time and personal management skills and also work collaboratively with staff colleagues and peers

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

  • Lectures provide content, a conceptual framework and a survey of approaches within Digital Theology that enable students to locate their learning in a wider context, to make connections with other disciplines, and to evaluate and apply their learning to different contexts.
  • Seminars offer students an opportunity to present, evaluate and apply their knowledge to specific reading contexts, and to engage with teaching staff and peers in debate and reflection.
  • Guided reading in conjunction with lectures and seminars encourages independent learning and underpins the knowledge and understanding gained in lectures and seminars.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 1.5 hours 15
Seminars 10 1.5 hours 15
Independent Preparation & Reading - weekly 15 6 hours 90
Assessment Tutorials 3 1 hour 3
Independent Work on Assessments 1 annual 177 hours 177
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Portfolio Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Portfolio 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Students submit a 1,000 word book review of one of the books on the indicative bibliography or a similar book by agreement with the Course Director


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