Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2014 RPE Essay Competition - Win an iPad..

It's back! The 2014 


First prize: a new iPad
Four Runners-up receive a £20 Amazon voucher

Following the success of last year, the Religion, Philosophy and Ethics (RPE) course  is pleased announce the return on the RPE Essay Competition

The competition is open to all those currently studying for any AS or A2-level examinations (or equivalent) in the UK. The first prize is a new iPad, and there will be four runners-up prizes of £20 Amazon vouchers.

Entries must be no longer than 1500 words including footnotes but excluding references and can take any form e.g. essay, dialogue, etc. All sources must be referenced.

The deadline for the 1500 word essay is 5pm on 24st October 2014 and will be judged by RPE lecturers. The winner will be announced on the RPE Blog on 1st December 2013

To enter please choose one of the titles below and email your entry to (please note you may only submit one entry to the competition).

Entries must be written in as a Microsoft Word document. Entries will normally be acknowledged within 5 days. In your email, please put your name, the Sixth Form / FE college you attend, and the title you have chosen to answer. The subject of your email should be 'essay competition'.

The University of Gloucestershire reserve the right to publish entries but entrants will retain copyright over their work. We intend to publish the winning essay on the RPE Course Blog at

Choose one of the following titles:

Q1: What is the proper role of religion in a modern, secular society?

Q2: If you had a time machine, would it be wrong to travel back and kill Hitler?

Q3: Does science give us an accurate picture of 'how the world is'?

·       1500 words maximum
·       Your essay must include the title/your name/contact email at the top of the page
·       The essay must be an attachment to the email as a Microsoft Word document
Any essay that does not satisfy these three conditions will not be considered by the judging panel.

The panel decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.


Course Facebook Group:        (open to all) 

Video Interview blog:

Much Madness, Such Sanity: Growing in the Garden of Humanities, 14th April Lecture

Click to enlarge..

May interest students - a free event, 14th April:
Much Madness, 
Such Sanity: 
Growing in the Garden of Humanities

Professor Shelley Saguaro

 Admission free, but booking essential
Tel: 01242 714582
University of Gloucestershire, 
The Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 2RH

Click to enlarge..


 7.45 p.m. Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Future of Ecumenism in the UK

Speaker: Revd. Dr. David Cornick (General Secretary of Churches Together in England and Fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge)

Main Lecture Theatre, Elwes Building, The Park Campus, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham GL50 2RH


For more information, contact Professor Robert Daniels or Revd. Dr. Alison Evans,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dr Roy Jackson interviews Professor Aaqil Ahmed.

Over  on our video-blogDr Roy Jackson interviews Professor Aaqil Ahmed, Head of BBC Religion and Ethics. Click the image below to go to the entry in the video-blog:

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Revision resources on video?

As A-level (and other) exam season approaches - you may be interested to note that we have a range of videos on topics that may be of use. Our video blog is at  - and down the right hand side you'll find a range of topics - or just browse through the (approx. 100) videos there.

We are always happy to record more if there are topics that people really want to focus on - use twitter to tell us what topics you'd like to see covered - we are at


See more about the RPE team at : 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Applicant Day!

Friday the 4th April sees us hosting another Applicant Day for RPE (and History/RPE) applicants, here at our Francis Close Hall Campus in Cheltenham.

All are very welcome - and we hope you find out everything you need to about the course.

Here are some pictures of the campus.. I'm hopeful it'll be dry tomorrow - but can't guarantee golden sunshine...

Another good way to get a sense of what we offer is to browse through our blog and other online resources - by using the tabs above..

Another way to get a good sense of what it's like to be a student here is to look at our Facebook group at - and see students talking to each other and to us, or click the pic below for our photo gallery:

Click to see our Flickr gallery..

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

RPE Staff Portrait...

Some of the RPE staff - as perceived by our third years..
I hope you can tell who is who...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cats on Campus?

The mysterious FCH cat..
I noticed yesterday that when I post important matters on the RPE Facebook group, I get a few likes - some intelligent comment - but when I post a picture of a cat on FCH campus: the likes go wild...

Now - everyone knows that I like cats, have cats, and have been known to include cat memes in presentations - but this fever for the campus cat seems beyond reason?

If you spot the cat on site - email me a picture and I'll pop it on our course Flickr page at

Meditation visit..

Many thanks to Justin Whitaker, who came to do a meditation practice with year 2 yesterday. The meditation was a metta-bhavana practice, and we had a discussion of the practice before and after.  Justin is also the author of the influential American Buddhist Perspective blog, and students can read more there...

I also interview Justin about meditation in Buddhism on our video-bloh here too:

The Prezi from last week's class on Meditation is also available.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cordoba 2014...

So - we set of at 3am on 11th March for Spain - and after some exciting coach, plane, coach and walking: we arrived at our Hotel in Cordoba by early afternoon. We went on our usual orientation tour, featuring supermarkets, chemists, museums, fast and slow food outlets and a general bit of wandering around - culminating in Plaza Corredera for an early evening drink..

Looking back from Calahorra Tower towards the Mezquita
That allowed for an early start on the Wednesday at the Torre de la Calahorra museum - this is a museum (with audio headphone guides!) that covers the 'Golden Age' and talks of Mulsim, Christian and Jewish life in the region - it culminates on the roof of the tower - where we have 5 years of pictures (only one in actual rain!) 
Also on the Wednesday - we went to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos to look at the site used for the Alcazar - and get a sense of its history. Then to the Archaeological Museum - for a glance at Cordoba's more ancient (mostly Roman) past.

Imma with students in the Mezquita / Cathedral of Cordoba
We met Imma – our expert tour guide – for the tour of the Mezquita / Cathedral – which is a highlight of the trip for many.

The tour took us from the Mezquita courtyard to the Jewish quarter, to see a ruined synagogue, as we hear about the history of the town and region: we then entered the Mezquita and had a wealth of detail from Imma about the amazing building.

Thursday afternoon saw us head to the Bath-house of the Caliphs, a small underground museum - with some bloody tales...

Then we walked to the Museum of Jewish life –  for our guided visit: The tour guide, Alex, not only gave us a lot of detail - but also finished the visit by singing to us!

We then - on Friday - had a day in Seville to see the Royal Alcazar there - and the huge, huge Seville Cathedral.. - most students even did the massive walk to the top of the tower for the views..  Everyone made the late train back - as we returned to Cordoba.

Saturday was the day of our trip to the ruined Islamic city of Medina Azahara - about 8km from the city - with a really detailled and informative museum at the site. After coaches, shuttle buses, gift shops and sunshine (with lots of learning thrown in) - we returned for an afternoon of gift shopping (Mosque snow-domes anyone?) - before walking back over the roman bridge at 6.30 am on Sunday to begin our journey home...

Monday, March 10, 2014

RPE Cordoba Trip 2014..

We will be leaving for Spain shortly - meeting in just over ten hours, at 2.30am - to study the Islamic, Christian and Jewish history, philosophy and culture of Andalusia, via our base in Cordoba.

You can follow the trip via our photo gallery: HERE, and via Twitter HERE...

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Anger kills...?

Over at the Guardian's Comment is Free you can find me wondering about different types of anger..

Just some speculation, wondering about perhaps thinking more about different types of anger, but it seems to have generated plenty of comment (which was probably the point...)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil: Chapter Three and the Eternal Recurrence

Given that Nietzsche has a reputation for being an atheist, this chapter may come as something as a surprise to many, as it demonstrates Nietzsche’s own ‘religiosity’. In looking at religious belief, Nietzsche is more concerned with why people believe what they do, not what they believe. It is the psychology of religion that is his main concern.

Here I want to focus on the key Section 56, as this presents his notion of the ‘eternal recurrence’. Apart from Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the doctrine of the eternal recurrence only gets a few mentions in his later works. However, the doctrine was first elaborated in The Gay Science (S341) where Nietzsche presents a ‘what  if’ image.  He asks what if a demon were to creep up to you one night when you are all alone and, feeling lonely, and were to say to you that the life you have lived and continue to live will be the same life you will live again and again for infinity. This life will be exactly the same; no additions, and no omissions, every pain, every joy, every small and great event.  If this were the case, would you cry out in despair over such a prospect, or would you think it to be the most wonderful outlook ever? Though not mentioned specifically, this ‘what if’ scenario sums up the eternal recurrence: whatever in fact happens has happened an infinite number of times in the exact same detail and will continue to do so for eternity. You have lived your life an infinite  number of times in the past and will do so an infinite number  of times in the future.

Importantly, like seemingly the doctrine of the will to power, Nietzsche presents the eternal recurrence as a thought experiment,  not a provable truth. In his unpublished notes of the time (which should always be treated with caution) he argues for it as a cosmological thesis. However, it is most appropriately (given what we know about Nietzsche’s epistemological views) seen as an existential challenge: given this burdensome thought how can we turn it into something joyful? It is essentially the same kind of question that has preoccupied a number of existential thinkers, most notably Camus. Nietzsche goes beyond Schopenhauer’s pessimism here in expressing the need for a human being to be world-affirming: you have to be well-disposed towards yourself, not full of world-weary pessimism or hoping for the next life. You have to look at your life and, like seeing a drama or hearing a musical, declare ‘de capo’ (‘from the beginning’): wanting it again and again. Saying ‘yes’. Nietzsche ends S56 with ‘a vicious circle made god?’, but this is the god Dionysus, not the Christian God.

The eternal recurrence is meant to have a transforming effect, which requires a revaluation of all values. It requires us to be proud of our achievements because they are our creation. Nonetheless, like religious belief, adopting the eternal recurrence is a matter of ‘faith’. Where it differs from religious belief is that it does not place that faith in something other-worldly, but in this life.