Show/hide main menu

Level 4

4AAT1601 Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Dr Kate Kirkpatrick 
One 2,000-word comprehension questions/commentary on texts (40%) and one two-hour examination (60%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: Two-hour weekly classes over ten weeks.
Pre-requisites: none
Places available: 65 (priority will be given to BA Religion, Philosophy & Ethics students)

Through lectures/seminars, students will explore the ways in which philosophers have sought to understood and respond to the demands of Christian faith from both within and without that faith. They will explore the social and psychological context of such faith, and the ways in which one might understand Christian notions of love, purity, devotion and sainthood, amongst others. They will explore the ways in which some thinkers have seen Christianity as deepening our sense of the human condition whilst others have seen Christianity as degrading of our condition. The course is text based as, in this context, this is one of the best ways in which students can come to a deepened intellectual understanding of the matters under consideration.

NB The course complements 4AAT1027 Elements of Ethics and, with that course, provides an introduction to the philosophy of religion and ethics.

Sample topics

  • Introduction
  • Augustine, Confessions
  • Hume, D., On the Natural History of Religion
  • Kierkegaard, S., Fear and Trembling
  • James, William, The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • Weil, S., Gravity and Grace and Waiting on God

Preliminary reading


  • Meister. C. and Copan, P., (eds) Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion BL51 ROU
  • Quinn, P and Taliaferro, C. (eds) A Companion to the Philosophy of Religion BL51 COM
  • Peterson, M. et al. (eds) Philosophy of Religion BL51 PHI
  • Peterson, M. et al. Reason and Religious Belief BL51 REA


  • Augustine, Confessions BR65.A8 C6 PIN
  • Brown, P., Augustine of Hippo BR65.A9 B8
  • Clark, G. (ed) Augustine BR65.A7 C6 CLA
  • Kristo, J.G., Looking for God in Time and Memory BR65.A9 KRI
  • Starnes, C., Augustine's Conversion BR65.A9 STA


  • Gaskin, J. Hume's Philosophy of Religion B1499.R2 G23
  • Hume, D. Natural History of Religion BL48 H89
  • Wollheim, R. (ed) Hume on Religion B1455 W83 [contains Natural History and a useful introductory essay]


  • Kierkegaard, S. Fear and Trembling B4373.F33 P42
  • Gardiner, P., Kierkegaard B4377 GAR
  • Lippitt, J., Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Kierkegaard and ‘Fear and Trembling’ B4373.F31 LIP
  • Jamie Ferreira, M.J., Kierkegaard B4377 FER
  • Schleifer, R. and Markley, R. (eds) Kierkegaard and LiteratureB4378.A4 Sch3
  • Helm, P., (ed) Divine Commands and Morality BJ47 H36,H361-H363


  • Taylor, E. William James on Consciousness Beyond the Margin BF109.J28 TAY
  • Proudfoot, W., William James and a Science of Religion BL53.J36 WIL
  • James, W., The Varieties of Religious Experience BL53.J36 WIL


  • Allen, D., Three Outsiders B56 AL53
  • Springsted, E. and Doering, J. (eds) The Christian Platonism of Simone Weil B2430.W474 CHR  
  • McLellan, D., Simone Weil B2430.W474 MCL
  • Rhees, R., Discussions of Simone Weil B2430.W474 RHE
  • Weil, Simone, Gravity and Grace B2430.W473 G7
  • Weil, Simone, Waiting on God B2430.W47 W13
  • Winch, Peter, Simone Weil B2430.W474 WIN

Further information

Module aims

The aim of this course is to offer a level 4 introductory module in the philosophy of religion. Through the study of key texts students will be introduced to key concepts in the study of philosophy of religion in the Christian tradition, together with philosophical critiques of that tradition.
More specifically, the aims are to:

  • explore with students the ways in which philosophers have thought about, and continue to think about, the nature and meaning of Christian faith;
  • explore these with students in the context of certain key philosophical texts;
  • explore with students the ways in which Christian faith might be seen as nourishing of the human spirit or as in various ways life-denying;
  • introduce students to some major figures in the Western thought on Christianity.
Learning outcomes

Generic skills

By the end of the course the student will be able to demonstrate a basic ability:

  • to analyse philosophical texts
  • to summarise and present arguments
  • to research, plan and present essays to specified deadlines

Course specific skills

Students should :

  • become familiar with some philosophical texts that contribute greatly to exploration of the nature of Christian faith
  • have a deepened understanding of a group of closely related key problems in philosophy of religion
  • appreciate the nature of intellectual exploration of Christianity regardless of one’s individual specific faith commitment or lack thereof
  • see why religion is worthy of academic study
Past syllabi
Previous syllabus document available to view here for academic year 2015-16.

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.



Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2019 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454