also available in 2018
A Level Requirements
see all requirements
see all requirements
Full time 3 Year(s)
Lancaster’s combined Philosophy and Religious Studies degree gives you the opportunity to benefit from world-class resources and tutors. Lancaster is home to ten philosophers, with a wide range of research interests and expertise and our Religious Studies programme continues to be a leader in terms of quality teaching and innovative research.
You’ll divide your time equally between Philosophy and Religious Studies, gaining a solid grounding in both subjects. You’ll start with modules including Introduction to Philosophy, Religions of the Modern World and Ethics, Philosophy and Religion. In the second and third year you choose from a wide range of modules including: Philosophy of Science; Epistemology, Ethics, Philosophy of Mind, Continental Philosophy; Religion and Violence; Media, Religion and Politics; Indian Religious and Philosophical Thought; New Religions and Alternative Spiritualities; Reading Buddhism; Reading Islam; Religion and Politics; Religion in Schools.
A Level ABB
IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 5.5 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
International Baccalaureate 32 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects.
BTEC Distinction, Distinction, Merit
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualification. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
Contact Admissions Team + 44 (0) 1524 592028 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of Lancaster's degree programmes are flexible, offering students the opportunity to cover a wide selection of subject areas to complement their main specialism. You will be able to study a range of modules, some examples of which are listed below.
This module introduces students to some of the central problems of philosophy and the theories produced in response to them. It also introduces some of the subject's technical concepts and vocabulary, and some of its techniques of reasoning and analysis. Reading includes both classical and contemporary material.
Philosophy has a significant role to play, both in acquainting students with some of the ideas which have helped shape Western culture, and in the critical understanding of ideas and methods in many other disciplines. The level of the module does not presuppose previous knowledge of philosophy. If students have studied philosophy before, the module will enable them to deepen and broaden their understanding of the subject and to improve their philosophical skills. The module aims not only to inform students with what philosophers have said but also to encourage them to engage with the issues. Topics will be drawn from the range of philosophical problems, approaches, and canonical figures.
The Religious Studies Part I course - RST100: Religions of the Modern World - provides an outline of the growth and development of the world’s major religious traditions, their primary characteristics, and subsequently considers some of the various forms they take in the contemporary world.
After a general introduction to the study of religion, the course is divided into five sections. The first four sections reflect on four religious traditions – Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. The first two lectures of these sections will set each religion in context and set out the varieties of its beliefs. The third and fourth lectures will explore religious ethics and practice, and examine some of the contemporary issues facing these religions today. The course concludes with a cross-cultural and inter-religious examination of some of the key issues for the study of religion in the modern world, such as ethics, politics, gender, and the character of religious life as it faces the challenges of the twenty-first century.
Teaching time is one two-hour lecture and a one hour seminar each week, supplemented by your own study, essay and project preparation time. The weekly workload is likely to be similar for the two 'minor' courses.
There are written coursework assignments during the first two terms, and an exam in the summer. Your first year mark is weighted 60% exam/40% coursework.
The Ethics, Philosophy and Religion Part I course - EPR100 - is designed to offer students the knowledge, academic techniques and skills to approach fundamental questions about the meaning of life and the human condition with confidence and, crucially, to consider what is at stake in ethical reasoning with self-assurance and maturity. The perspectives offered by EPR 100 include the philosophical, theological, religious, western, Asian, the cross-cultural, ancient and modern. By taking EPR 100 you will acquire a range of essential theories, approaches and questions that will enable you to understand and assess practical ethical standpoints, to offer criticism of them and to develop your own independent views.
Teaching time is two weekly one-hour lectures over two and a half terms, plus a weekly seminar.
This module aims to provide students with a solid knowledge base and understanding of a range of important issues, key concepts, contemporary debates, and approaches regarding Buddhism and modernity in Asian countries. It covers different historical, social, political, and economic factors that have impacted on the development of Buddhism in respective societies as well as looking at the intersection between secular power and religious authority.
On successful completion of this module students will be able to make informed judgements and present their own views on key concepts and issues that have impacted on Buddhism in the past and present of select countries in Southeast Asia and in the Far East. They will also be able to articulate the differences and describe critically the transformations taking place in regard to Buddhism through discussing concepts of modernity, authority, gender, development, and power.
This module aims to survey and critically examine the main themes, key concepts, debates and approaches to the study of Christianity and theological change in the modern word. Students will develop an analytical and interpretive framework within which to situate competing Christian traditions and theologies in a historical context.
Throughout the module students will learn to demonstrate a systematic understanding and critical awareness of established debates, theoretical literature and emerging insights in respect of the modern history of Christianity, as well as evidence an understanding and critical evaluation of developments and debates within Christian theology and history. The module will critically analyse developments in Christianity in relation to changing social and cultural contexts, and apply various theoretical frameworks and critical tools in order to understand, explain and analyse developments in the field.
This module explores the emergence and construction of ethics within the context of two world religions: Christianity and Islam. It examines the ways in which religious attitudes to ethical concern and practice are influenced by traditional, textual and cultural factors.
Some of the ethical concerns to be covered throughout the module are: politics and economics; justice and war; sex and sexual practice; and rights and law. Finally, the module will encourage students to explore some of these areas cross-culturally through the consideration of questions of difference and otherness.
The aim of this module is to provide students with a good, broad introduction to some of the key themes in epistemology -the theory of knowledge.
It begins with a core question; What is knowledge? This leads on to questions about how knowledge relates to other things, like belief, and truth. Throughout the term students will see that it is much harder to answer the core question than one might initially think, raising a question of why it is so hard to give a clear and general, account of what knowledge is. Students will also look at sources of knowledge - especially, perception, self-knowledge and testimony. The module also explores some of the relationships between epistemology and ethics, ending with the question of whether we ever ought to refrain from seeking knowledge.
By the end of this module, students will be able to understand and discuss critically the central problems and theories of epistemology, and explain how epistemology relates to other areas of philosophy.
This module aims to provide students with an understanding of some historical and contemporary approaches to the subject of ethics. It addresses central issues by engaging with classical texts in the history of the subject, such as Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, David Hume’s Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism.
The module will also explore selected topics in moral philosophy, such as the nature, strength and weakness of consequentialism, deontology, and virtue theory. In addition to this, students will study topics in meta-ethics, such as the ‘moral problem’, non-cognitivist realism, and quasi-realism.
Other topics covered include topics in applied and practical ethics, such as issues of life and death in biomedical practice, the ethics of war, and the ethics of personal life; as well as the nature of moral motivation and moral psychology.
This module surveys and critically examines the main themes, key concepts, debates and approaches to the study of Hinduism. It pays particular attention to Hinduism in the modern world and Hinduism's relationship with other religions of South Asia during and since the 19th century.
On this module, students will develop an analytical and interpretative framework within which to situate competing Hindu traditions in a historical context. Lectures will include topics such as: religious pluralism, the limitations of the term Hinduism, the impact of colonialism on Indian religious traditions, gender, the caste system, yoga, and the relationship between Hinduism and politics.
Western philosophy has a long and rich history, and many of the questions occupying present-day philosophers have been around for hundreds or even thousands of years.
The exact structure of this module may vary from year to year, but core themes will normally include:
Students will study these problems, amongst others, by close consideration of a selection of texts from the history of Western philosophy. This may include selections from the ancient (classical), medieval, early modern (17th/18th centuries) period, and the 19th century. Thinkers who may be considered include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Scotus, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche.
This module aims to introduce and familiarise students to the interplay between politics, society and religion in the world's largest democracy, India. At a time when India is emerging as a global power and economic powerhouse despite persistent poverty and various socio-political fissures, a critical balance must be struck in the understanding between its potential and its problems. India offers powerful lessons on the challenges and achievements of democracy in a deeply pluralistic and unequal society.
An examination of these issues opens up conceptual preconceptions about democracy, religion, secularism, discrimination, globalisation and political mobilisation, which tend to be structured by knowledge of Western polities. The particular issues concerning large populations of many different religions and huge social differences offer pathways of understanding to many pressing global issues.
Some of the main themes covered include democracy, religion and social change, as well as an exploration of the religious minorities and caste politics and Dalits in India.
This module examines the historical formation of Islam; its renewal movements, past and present; and modern reform discourses on gender, politics, and law. The aim of the module is to gain an understanding of continuities and discontinuities in the Islamic tradition in relation to religious authority, theology, politics and contemporary practice.
Some of the topics studied include: the formation of Shari'a (Islamic law); competing Sunni and Shi'i orthodoxies; the rise of radical political movements and global Jihad; Islamic feminists; Islam and the West; and Islam in Britain.
The module offers a strong foundation for more specialised study in second and third year courses.
This module is designed to improve students' knowledge and understanding of some key issues in metaphysics as determined by the syllabus. The module will focus primarily on some issues concerning space and time, the nature of physical objects and persons, and some key philosophical distinctions. Topics will include:
Studying this module should enable students to see connections between various philosophical issues that should be of value to them with regard to other philosophy modules that they are studying.
The aim of this module is to provide a broad grounding in some important aspects of the discipline of politics that are conceived of as both an attempt to understand the nature of politics and to assess the worth of various political arrangements. It involves consideration of notions such as politics, citizenship, democracy, government, state, welfare, individualism, utilitarianism, conservatism, socialism and, social democracy, together with an examination of the various ways in which political studies have been understood as a disciplined investigation of things political. The module covers four broad topics: freedom, markets and the state; citizenship, nationalism and democracy; equality and welfare; and politics and political science.
The module is divided into two sections over two terms. In the first term students will read, examine and discuss thinkers who make a contribution to the understanding of the notions of liberty and the individual (Hobbes, Locke, J S Mill, and Hayek). In the second term students will explore the thought of thinkers who are associated with the ideas of equality and community (Rousseau, Marx, the Fabians, and Rawls).
This module considers some of the difficulties involved in gaining knowledge about human societies. It focuses especially on economics and politics, disciplines which raise some of the largest questions about society – for example: Who gets what? Who rules whom? Can individual choices generate social change?
In this module students will not address such questions empirically, but instead step back to ask what sort of methods have been used to answer them, what sorts of modes of explanation or understanding are appropriate, and what assumptions are built into the ways economists and political scientists frame their enquiries. The aim of the module, then, is to critically examine methods and assumptions in both disciplines, in order to appreciate the scope and limits of their claims to knowledge.
This module considers philosophical issues that arise in both the natural and social sciences. With regard to the natural sciences, students will consider traditional accounts of scientific method and theory-testing, then examining philosophical challenges to the status of science as a rational form of enquiry. Particular consideration is given to four of the most important twentieth-century philosophers of science: Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos and Feyerabend.
With regard to the social sciences, the module will ask whether endeavours such as sociology, economics, anthropology and history should really be counted as sciences, and then consider some of the special issues that arise in the study of human society. For example, how are we to understand other societies (for instance, in anthropology)? What is the place for individualism versus collectivism in social explanation (for example, in sociology and history)? What is the scientific status of social models based on postulates of rational choice (for example, in economics and politics)?
No scientific background is assumed on this module.
This module aims to introduce students to a wide range of connected topics in the theory of knowledge, philosophy of mind and philosophy of language, drawing on both classical and contemporary writings. It examines issues such as: the nature and justification of our knowledge of the external world, and the relations between knowledge and belief; the mind-body (or mind-brain) problem; the place of mental life and bodily continuity in the identity of individuals; and the different theories of truth, meaning and the language-world relationship, including logical positivism.
This module begins by examining issues in the metaphysics of mind, before moving on to epistemological issues: How can we gain knowledge of our own mental states, or of other people’s? How should psychologists seek to investigate the mind?
For the most part, this module will be structured around contemporary texts.
This module aims to encourage students to think philosophically about religious issues. Using the work of both classical and contemporary philosophers and religious thinkers, it addresses some of the central philosophical questions raised by religious belief. In addition, students will be encouraged to think historically ad contextually, in order to understand the ways in which the role of philosophy in relation to religion in the west has changed over time.
The module introduces students to the work of some of the most important philosophers from Plato to Wittgenstein and the implications of their thought for religion. It will also address themes and issues which may vary from year to year but will be drawn from the following: the nature of theism; immortality; the problem of evil; religious experience; and the implications of postmodern thought for religious belief.
This module introduces central issues, problems and theories in philosophical aesthetics by critically examining specific topics in the philosophy of art, and by examining the theories of major figures who have contributed to the tradition of philosophical aesthetics. The module uses concrete examples from most of the arts, including painting, literature, film, and music, to illuminate theoretical debates and issues.
Topics and major aesthetic theorists covered may include the following (note that this list is not exhaustive and indicative only, not all topics will be covered) :
This module aims to introduce the work of some key figures in 19th and 20th century continental philosophy, such as Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Hannah Arendt and Habermas. The approach taken is predominantly philosophical rather than historical, and will involve critically examining claims and arguments about such matters as the existence and nature of human freedom, the relationships between knowledge, truth, power and morality, alienation and human labour, and the possibility of mutual recognition and community. It is expected that students will engage with the original texts, formulate the central arguments to be found in them and assess their cogency.
The module begins by looking at Nietzsche’s Toward a Genealogy of Morality, before turning to Foucault, who adapts Nietzsche’s method of historical analysis in order to challenge assumptions about progress toward freedom and welfare in modern societies. Finally students will study Arendt and her political thought on totalitarian politics using a parallel method of historical analysis.
This module provides an opportunity for students to choose a topic related to some aspect of Politics and International Relations, Philosophy and Religious Studies which particularly interests them, and to pursue it in depth. The topic may be related to work that is being done on a formally taught course, or it may be less directly linked to course work. The intention is that students will develop their research skills and their ability to work at length under their own direction.
Students are expected to start thinking seriously about the 9,000-10,000 word dissertation towards the end of the Lent term of their second year, and to submit a provisional topic by the end of that term. Work should be well advanced by Christmas in the third year. The completed dissertation must be submitted by the end of the Lent term in the third year.
This module focuses upon some key aspects of the history of 20th Century Philosophy.
The module begins by examining a revolution in philosophy at the very start of the 20th century with the origins of analytic philosophy. It then focuses on Wittgenstein’s radical philosophy (or anti-philosophy). Wittgenstein’s own philosophical development brings to the fore a deep schism, or tension, that has existed throughout the century’s philosophy, one which lays between those who hold that philosophy should align itself with natural science and mathematics, and those who reject this view. Students will examine whether philosophy should seek to emulate the natural sciences and illustrate the tension between scientistic and humanistic philosophy via mid-20th century debate about the nature of historical explanation.
The final lectures look at the distinction between analytic and continental philosophy in the 20th century, and upon the emergence of applied philosophy later in the century, asking whether philosophy can ever really be applied to real-life problems.
This module will introduce major themes and issues in Indian philosophy, focusing on the Hindu and Buddhist philosophical traditions. Beginning with philosophical sections in the Upanishads and the dialogues of the Buddha, the module will trace the development of Indian philosophy from the early to the classical periods. Various ethical, metaphysical, and epistemological concepts will be covered, such as: order and virtue (dharma), consequential action (karma), ultimate reality (Brahman), the nature of the self (atman), the highest good (moksha), and the means for attaining knowledge (pramana).
Throughout the module, students will look at the dialogical relationship between the Hindu and Buddhist philosophical traditions, particularly the shared practice of debate.
The module will examine the cultural and political relationships and intersections between media, religion and politics in national and global contexts. Both old and new media will be considered, and consideration will be given to the transformative potential of the latter for participation and activism in religion and politics. The research methods used for analysing media content and discourse will be introduced and applied.
Topics may include:
This module examines the Buddhist scriptures in the Theravada and Mahayana traditions and offers an opportunity for students to understand some of the key concepts and ideas by reading select extracts of the Buddhist texts in English from both schools and traditions. It also allows them to understand the changes in doctrinal emphasis as well as variations in interpretation in the historical development of Buddhism. This module will be a stand-alone module for third year students but will also be accessible to students who are new to the subject.
Religions may take on partly distinctive forms due to the history and traditions of particular regions or modern nation states. Islam is no exception. This module will examine varieties of Islam in a range of modern areas and countries such as Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Britain. It illustrates the socio-political contexts which have contributed to these variations both historically and in today’s world.
This module focuses on key contexts and developments in the inter-relationship between religion and politics across the world.
The major themes will be:
The aims of this module are to critically examine the teaching of religion in schools as it has developed since 1944, current controversies and possible futures; and, to provide relevant knowledge and understanding for those going on to a teaching career in RS/ethics.
Topics include social and political values in RE, pluralism and truth, spirituality in the curriculum, faith schools and secular worldviews. The focus is on the educational system in England and Wales but with reference to the rest of the UK and Europe.
Complemented by film and video footage, the module surveys and examines the main themes, debates and approaches to ritualised spirit possession in a variety of social contexts. It also engages established social processes and emerging trends as they are expressed through a range of spirit possession motifs, repertoires and patterns.
This module encourages students to develop an analytical and interpretative framework for understanding beliefs, concrete practices and ongoing transformations concerning ritualised spirit-possession.
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster visit our Teaching and Learning section.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
The skills and knowledge developed during your degree programme make it possible for you to follow many careers. In increasingly multicultural societies and an integrated world, graduates with an understanding of other faiths, cultures and values are highly regarded. Your philosophical training and communications skills also transfer well to the workplace, where conclusions based on careful assessment of arguments are valued.
Lancaster’s Philosophy and Religious Studies graduates have chosen a wide range of careers, including roles in the Civil Service, journalism, banking, the police and business, as well as teaching and the caring professions.
Some alumni also pursue further study through a postgraduate degree at Lancaster and other institutions.
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2019/20 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2018 were:
Some science and medicine courses have higher fees for students from
the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. You can find more details here:
For full details of the University's financial support packages including eligibility criteria, please visit our fees and funding page
Students also need to consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation it may be necessary to take out subscriptions to professional bodies and to buy business attire for job interviews.
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Typical time in lectures, seminars and similar per week during term time
Average assessment by coursework