United Kingdom 2017 Programme
Religious Studies Teachers Oxford Masterclass

Liverpool - 24th November 2017, Liverpool Hope University

London - 1 December 2017, Russell Square

Oxford - 4 December 2017, Mathematical Institute

The Programme

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Developments in Christian thought: Science and Religion - Professor Alister McGrath

How and why science has influenced Christianity, and how has Christianity responded? Professor McGrath will draw on a number of specific scientific discoveries (e.g. Big Bang, Darwin) and examine how far science is compatible with and a stimulus for developments in Christian thought. Nobody is better placed to discuss the evolving story of the relationship between science and religion with discussion of both traditional and contemporary Christian theology than Professor McGrath, who is named as a source on several UK RS syllabi. He will explain and make clear the relevance of the views found in his books Christian Theology, Wiley-Blackwell, and Theology the Basics, Blackwell.

Life after Death: The Dialogue Between Science Religion and Philosophy - Julie Arliss

Julie Arliss will introduce this session with video examples for flipped learning designed to accelerate student engagement with the key concepts and ideas related to this part of the course. The concept of soul; resurrection of the flesh as expressed in the writings of Augustine; spiritual resurrection; the significance of 1 Corinthians 15: 42-44 and 50-54. Different interpretations within the Christian tradition including objective immortality in process thought. Questions about the authority of scripture, the authority of religious experience and scientific contributions to the debate, as well as the competing truth claims of other religions will be considered. How far are beliefs about life after death reasonable – based on reason – and how meaningful are faith statements about life after death.

Miracles in Focus and the Great Debates on Special Divine Action (SDA): Resources for Religious Studies - Dr Andrew Pinsent

The SDA project at Oxford University has a wide range of online resources for Religious Studies teachers, especially on the great debates about miracles, touching also on grace, inspiration, and providence. The project aims to bring together original texts and contemporary scholarship to explore the debates at the intersections of religion, philosophy, society and science. In this session Dr Pinsent, who has led this $2.5million project, will guide delegates through the online resources available for teaching. These include, for example, access to e-copies of original manuscripts of Hume’s ‘An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding’ with links to its many commentators and critics, as well as professional video interviews with modern day atheist and theist scholars. The diversity of thoughtful views using the SDA resources provides much broader and deeper opportunities for students to explore than has often been the case on these topics in the recent past. These materials continue to grow and will benefit from teachers using and evaluating them. You will be encouraged to follow the tour on your own device during this session.

Being Human: Christianity and Secularism in Dialogue - Dr Steven Shakespeare

Secularism thinks about what it means to be human without reference to God and religion. Christians start from the claim that humans are made in the image of God. So are Christianity and secularism poles apart? Can Christian thought speak to the challenges of the modern world - or should religion be seen as essentially a private matter? Examining issues such as environmental ethics, human enhancement and neuroscience, Dr Shakespeare will explore the critical dialogues between Christianity and secular thought, as we struggle with the question: what is a human being?

Julie Arliss

Julie Arliss

Recently awarded a Farmington Fellowship from Harris Manchester College, Oxford, Julie Arliss is a highly-accomplished teacher and author. She is a well-known international educator of gifted students with a gift for making the complex simple, and the simple complex. She is committed to the provision of world-class extension activities for these students, to extend their reach well beyond the curriculum to new areas of knowledge. She is a former principal examiner for Cambridge International Examinations and founder of Academy Conferences.

Professor Alister McGrath

Professor Alister McGrath

Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion, Oxford University

Professor McGrath gained first class honours from Oxford University in Chemistry and first class honours in Theology. He holds an Oxford DPhil for his research in Molecular Biology and a DD from Oxford University’s Faculty of Theology for his work in Historical and Systematic Theology. A former atheist, he has established a reputation as one of the leading apologists for Christianity. Author of Christian Theology, Wiley-Blackwell, Theology: the Basics, Blackwell and The Dawkins Delusion, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Professor McGrath is a modern day 'great thinker' and his work is a fundamental part of A level study.

Dr Andrew Pinsent

Dr Andrew Pinsent

Dr Andrew Pinsent is a former particle physicist at CERN, being a named author on thirty-one papers of the DELPHI experiment and a current member of the United Kingdom Institute of Physics. Dr Pinsent has a second doctorate in Philosophy, a degree in Theology, and is currently the Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, a Research Fellow of Harris-Manchester College and a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at Oxford University. He is project leader on the $2.5M Special Divine Action project, has written many teaching resources, and given numerous presentations in schools, especially on science and religion and the philosophy of science.

Dr Steven Shakespeare

Dr Steven Shakespeare

Dr Steven Shakespeare is a senior lecturer at the University of Liverpool Hope. He has a PhD from Cambridge and is widely published with books such as Radical Orthodoxy: A Critical Introduction (SPCK, 2007); and Derrida and Theology (T & T Clark, 2009). His current interests include the philosophical importance of the boundaries drawn between human and animal, machine and organism, flesh and spirit. He has published on transhumanism, black metal theory, philosophy of religion.

He is a fellow of the prestigious Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and Patron of the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals.

Why attend?

These Masterclasses, with input from world-class thinkers, will offer great opportunities to:

  • Be inspired
  • Gain understanding
  • Deepen knowledge
  • Refine beliefs
  • Explore foundational ideas
  • Be stimulated by debates
  • Prepare for exam success

'Worldviews today form a wide spectrum with regard to both natural and supernatural matters, and it is unlikely that humanity will converge on one particular understanding. Greater awareness of one's own worldview, however, and of the alternatives held by others together with a certain epistemic humility can be the beginning of dialogue and fruitful insight'

Benedikt Paul Göcke
University of Oxford / Ruhr Universität-Bochum

What teachers say:

Every aspect of this course has been absolutely superb. I feel totally inspired and very luck to have listened to so many wonderful speakers. Thank you SO much.

The opportunity to network and talk to colleagues about how they are managing the new A level has been very useful.

Fantastic programme that has been very inspiring.

I hope to attend future events and to send other members of the department. It has been an invaluable event in terms of developing the level of my own thinking and future practice. I feel rejuvenated in my approach.

Arrival and Registration

Arrival from 09.30. The programme begins promptly at 10.00 and concludes at 15.15. Note: times for London conference as follows: 10.00 arrival; 10.30 start; 15.45 finish.

Staff are warmly invited to join the team for informal discussion over break and lunch with refreshments provided.

The cost

A fixed fee of £220 made online at the time of booking.


Please contact the office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information.

Essential Viewing!

Oxford university has launched a you tube site with FREE new resources designed for use in school. This is the beginning of a major out-reach initiative.

The first three videos are short introductions to the idea of special divine action. The project leader, and commentator in each short video, is Dr Andrew Pinsent, who is Research Director at the IRC in Oxford and a popular speaker for Academy Conferences. He is a former CERN physicist with doctorates in both Particle Physics and Philosophy. He is currently a member of the Theology/Philosophy faculty at Oxford. Click the button to watch a three minute introduction to the topic of miracles. Can they happen? Why should anybody believe that they do?

Click to view

Essential Reading!

You can receive a free electronic copy of "Beyond Matter: Why Science Needs Metaphysics" by Professor Roger Trigg, St Cross College, Oxford. This is an excellent read for those interested in the importance of philosophy for science.

Please click on the link below to access this book FREE of charge or to order a hard copy.

Click to download

Teacher's Residential 2016: Buy the DVD. Click here.
Buy the t-shirt. Click here.

Proud to work with…

AQA Cambridge International Examinations eduqas edexcel Liverpool Hope University OCR Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion

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