Diploma in Philosophical Theology

Diploma in Philosophical Theology

Successful completion of the modules below qualifies a student for the diploma in philosophical theology. 

While each module covers a 15-week span, a student may decide to study two modules together to achieve the diploma in three semesters. However, a student may also decide to study one module at a time, thus making the diploma achievable in three years.

All of these modules are offered every semester (15 week term). In addition if a student elects to study a module during it's listed semester, as well as having lectures available on line, the student may also attend lectures/tutorials in person here at the institute in Tallaght.

Modules

These are the modules available in each semester. Click each module title to view its details.

Spring

This short, introductory module demonstrates how distance learning fits in with the human experience of lifelong learning. It shows how learning styles are quite personal, and involve a great deal of reflection and self-appraisal. Reading is important, as is the discipline of writing assignments. The module also touches on study skills, time management and examination techniques. Every student must take this module to begin studying with us. There is no fee for this module.
This module examines the need for theologians to study the great philosophers, not least because these philosophers have exercised an indelible influence on the development of theology. But it also outlines the questions being asked by philosophers independently of theologians. The module looks back to the philosophy of ancient Greece, and to the great figures of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. It then explores the era of greatest integration between philosophy and theology – the Middle Ages – when theologians such as Augustine and Aquinas successfully integrated the Scriptures with philosophy. The central theme of metaphysics – the mind’s attempt to grapple with everyday reality – is examined.
This module approaches some of the great philosophers of the modern era – Descartes, Kant, Wittgenstein and Heidegger – and analyses their main concerns. Epistemology (the theory of knowledge) was transformed by Descartes into the basis of all modern philosophical thinking, and Kant proposed the concept of duty as the fundamental moral source. The claims of knowledge, scepticism and relativism are all addressed here. The twentieth century is represented by Wittgenstein and Heidegger, two giants who typify modern philosophy – the analytical and the continental traditions. The module concludes with five detailed philosophical responses to what is arguably the greatest challenge of all: ‘What is the meaning of life?’
This module begins with an exploration of medical ethics and its application to contemporary issues in health care, especially the doctor/patient relationship. Questions concerning the beginning and ending of life – assisted conception, IVF, abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide – are evaluated from both a Catholic and secularist perspective. Key questions in genetics (eugenics, genetic engineering, genetic screening, gene therapy, stem cell research, cloning, etc.) are all examined. A study is made of the fair allocation of scarce financial resources, as are the moral questions behind pharmaceutical research. The module investigates the link between ethics, justice and spirituality. Justice is explored in may ways, and concepts, such as the common good, human rights, human dignity and the care for the earth are explored.

Autumn

This short, introductory module demonstrates how distance learning fits in with the human experience of lifelong learning. It shows how learning styles are quite personal, and involve a great deal of reflection and self-appraisal. Reading is important, as is the discipline of writing assignments. The module also touches on study skills, time management and examination techniques. Every student must take this module to begin studying with us. There is no fee for this module.
Jesus made people think! And Christianity from its earliest days has honoured the human capacity for reflection. Whenever human enquiry touches on the big issues of life – its origin and destiny – and relates these issues to the question of God, then the world which opens up is the world of theology. This module traces how the Judeo-Christian tradition reveals a God who is unique, personal and involved in human affairs. The module highlights the work of many contemporary theologians whose work has been profoundly shaped by the social context in which they live. The module also treats of moral theology and the Church, and shows how a questioning mind is a key element in the journey of faith.
The concepts of creation, grace, sin, virtuous living and eschatology are explored by this module in a manner which reveals how this approach is shared between Christianity and the science of anthropology. The module then gives an ecological response to the creation accounts in Genesis. The concept of Original Sin and its impact on human flourishing is examined in detail, leading to a study of grace as articulated by Paul, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas andMartin Luther, followed by contemporary approaches to what it means to live virtuously in a complex world. The Christian belief in life after death is explored – living well so that we may die well.
In this module, the great theological themes such as God, the meaning of life, salvation, etc. are studied from a purely rational, philosophical perspective, away from the influence of faith and revelation. Many ancient philosophers, and some not so ancient, have focused on themes normally associated with theology. So the question is posed: Can we reason to the existence of God and to the nature and attributes of God? Classical arguments for the existence of God are presented and analysed, as is the relationship of faith to reason, and a philosophical approach to knowing God by way of ‘the divine attributes’ is undertaken. Finally, the module addresses the vexed question of religious language and of how words can be used for what is, by definition, beyond words?
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