Undergraduate Module Descriptor
ARA1041: Religious Communities of the Middle East: Culture, Endangerment and Survival
This module descriptor refers to the 2023/4 academic year.
|Term(s) and duration|
This module will run during term 2 (12 weeks)
Professor Christine Robins (Convenor)
|Available via distance learning|
This module takes you to the heart of the struggle for survival of some unique religious communities of the Middle East, many of which have existed for many hundreds of years but which may not live beyond our lifetime. You will not only the rich traditions of Eastern Christianity but also about the much smaller groups who challenge our received ideas of what a ‘religion’ is and what it must consist of.
An important part of the course is project work, which you will do by working in groups. Your group will meet and work with at least one member of one of these religious minorities - you may be working with a member of the Syrian Christian, Yezidi (Ezidi) or Mandaean community, for example. Your project will consist of the compiling and presentation of briefing papers concerning these little-known faiths which could be used by specific stakeholders in the wider community. Such potential stakeholders might include the Foreign Office, the Home Office, the Anglican Church or NGOs, (all of whom are in need of more knowledge about these groups). You will learn to apply the principles of religious literacy in your own appreciation of the faith groups you encounter and in your project work. Also, this project-based learning gives you the chance to practise transferable skills, such as teamworking and presentation. Because of the project work, attendance and participation are high-priority for success in this module.
The module will take you historically from Late Antiquity until the last few years, when violence displaced many minorities from their homelands. You will read academic, media and faith sources and will be invited to consider what prejudices, colonial or otherwise, might underly all these sources. Most importantly, your work with the members of the religion on which your project is based will bring you into contact with someone whose world-view may be very different from your own. This project will comprise 45% of the course; the other 45% will consist of an essay which must focus on one (or more) different groups from your project, with 10% participation. No knowledge of any of the local languages is required, nor is it necessary to have studied the ‘Introduction to Islam’ module – though if you have, you will find that the two modules complement each other.