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Unit information: Atheism in 2021/22

Unit name Atheism
Unit code THRS30050
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. David Leech
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit explores key issues in philosophy of religion through the lens of philosophical atheism, agnosticism and other non-theistic worldview positions including religious naturalism and Schellenberg’s ultimism. It examines some core philosophical issue as they arise within these positions including atheist appraisals of religious experience, meaning/non-futility, and the prospects for secular spirituality. Through an in-depth focus on atheistic approaches to a range of key topics in the philosophy of religion, it develops student skills in philosophical reading, writing and argumentation.


To familiarise students with some central issues within philosophical atheism, agnosticism and other non-theistic worldview positions to a degree which is more specialised than what is possible within a general unit on philosophy of religion.

To develop students’ ability to form their own views and provide argumentative justification for their positions with respect to these issues

To develop skills in philosophical reading, writing and argumentation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Articulate a sophisticated understanding of some of the core philosophical issues within the topics discussed in the unit;
  2. Assess some of the central contemporary literature on these issues;
  3. Identify and present pertinent evidence to develop a cogent argument;
  4. Demonstrate skills in research, philosophical writing and argumentation appropriate to level H/6.

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Information

1 x 2000 words portfolio (formative) [ILOs 1-4] 1 x 3000-word summative essay (100%) [ILOs 1-4]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. THRS30050).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.