Modern and Postmodern Philosophy

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1
COURSE UNIT 276 - 8276


This unit builds on unit 176 (Philosophy and Christian Worldview) and introduces some key themes in philosophy from the Enlightenment to the present day.  There is a particular focus on the Western classical philosophical tradition.  The unit will conclude with a consideration of postmodernity and how this movement impacts thinking about the Christian faith.  Through critical interaction with intellectual ideas that have shaped contemporary culture, this unit challenges students to engage with philosophical ideas concerning goodness, truth and beauty from a Christian point of departure.


·         To develop students’ understanding of the subject and methods of philosophy

·         To improve their skills in critical thinking

·         To give students a basic understanding of the main developments in the Western philosophical tradition, so that they can critically interact with ideas that have shaped the contemporary world from an explicitly Christian perspective


Category of outcome

By the end of this unit students should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

·         Understand some key terms and questions in philosophy from c.1650 to the present day

·         Demonstrate an understanding of major movements in philosophy, such as empiricism, idealism, existentialism and postmodernism

Intellectual skills

·         Develop a critical awareness of some of the fundamental questions of philosophy from the Enlightenment to the present day

·         Formulate lucid Christian responses to some major philosophical developments since the Enlightenment

Practical skills

·         Use IT and computer skills to effectively support research

·         Critically interact with complex texts and extract relevant ideas and information

·         Articulate a personal response to some philosophical positions

Transferable skills and Personal qualities

·         Integrate knowledge and understanding of philosophical concepts and apply these to a range of current ethical and political issues

·         Recognise and understand nuances of argumentation in complex texts


Assessment task


Weighting within unit



500 words

1500 words




·         271:

·         8271:

An essay plan with formative feedback

An essay



3000 words

2000 words




pass / fail*

·         271:

·         8271:

An essay

An essay

and a learning journal*


* Distance learning students are required to pass this element. So long as this element has been passed, they will be eligible for compensation if the overall unit mark is within the compensation zone (30-39%), and the compensatable credit allowance as set out in the Degree Regulations has not been exceeded.




Available on which programme(s)?

BA in Theology


1.    The Enlightenment I

2.    The Enlightenment II

3.    The Romantic Movement I

4.    The Romantic Movement II

5.    Existentialism and Phenomenology

6.    Marxism

7.    Logical Positivism

8.    Postmodern Philosophy I

9.    Postmodern Philosophy II

10.  Christian Faith and Postmodern Philosophy I

11.  Christian Faith and Postmodern Philosophy II

Learning and teaching method

Interactive lectures

Language of Teaching and assessment


Additional eLearning content

Unit materials are available at Spurgeon’s Online to support student learning


Written feedback within 15 working days from submission

Date of approval (for office use)


Information updated on

December 2015


Caputo, John D., The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida: Religion without Religion (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997)

Clark, Kelly James, et al (eds), 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2008)

Flynn, Thomas, Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)

Honderich, Ted, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)

Kee, Alistair, The Masters of Suspicion: Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud (London: SCM, 2012)

Kenny, Anthony, The Rise of Modern Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)

Middleton, J. Richard, and Brian J. Walsh, Truth is Stranger Than It Used To Be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age (London: SPCK / Downers Grove: IVP, 1995)

Rollins, Peter, How (Not) to Speak of God (London: SPCK, 2006)

Schouls, Peter A., Descartes and the Enlightenment (Montreal: McGill Queens University Press / Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1989)

Smith, James K.A., Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006)

Vanhoozer, Kevin, The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)

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Modern and Postmodern Philosophy

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1
Course Unit 276 - 8276





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Dr Joshua T. Searle

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