Friday, February 12, 2016

Applicant Day - February 18th for Religion, Philosophy & Ethics applicants.

This coming week, on Thursday 18th February, we'll be holding the first of this year's Applicant Visit Days. If you've applied to start RPE in September 2016 - these events are for you!

 If you haven't booked for this (or the the 10th March applicant day) - you can do this at:

There will be a 'taster' session with Dr William Large, Course Leader for RPE:

The Examined Life – Plato famously said that an unexamined life was not worth living. But what is an unexamined life? How would you live a life that had no Religion, Philosophy and Ethics in it, and if you did would that really be a problem?

There will also be lots of opportunity to find out more about the RPE course and community here at  or on Twitter at @RPEatGlos. As well as the academic side of being a student, there will also be the chance to ask about finance, accommodation and the social aspects of student life! 
Gloucestershire. You can also see our Facebook group at

See you there..
Students on the Spain field trip module..

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

On the road with Dr Peter Vardy

For the last week and a half, I've been off campus as part of Dr Peter Vardy's Candle Conferences Ethics tour..

My wonderful colleagues Dr Ben Trubody and Professor Melissa Raphael have been covering my teaching at the University (lucky students!), and I've been using Skype as much as train/hotel wi-fi will allow!

By the end of this week I'll have given my 'I ❤️ Kant' talk to nearly 4000 A-level students from around 200 Schools / Colleges. I apologise for the meme-filled slides (you can find a copy via twitter, where I am @davidwebster, if you really want to see them).

It's been really interesting talking with students and teachers - and I hope some of you are excited by what we do on the RPE course here. While I have found all the travel, and big audiences exciting, but slightly tiring - but Peter has enough energy for the whole audience- and has always made sure the debates have been very lively!

Dr Peter Vardy - in London.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Third Degree - RPE staff versus student on Radio 4 quiz..

Last week, Radio 4's The Third Degree recorded an episode of the quiz show (that pits University staff agains their students) at Gloucestershire.

The teams included an RPE student (Rob Alexander) and RPE staff member (David Webster - me). The show won't be broadcast till April - so I will keep the result a secret - but here are a few photos from the event..

Rob and Dave either side of the host, Steve Punt.

Dave 'thinking'...

Before the hostilities..

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Death! (Exhibition and visit, and a cat pub too..)

A week or so ago, RPE students (with a few from other courses joining us too) popped down to Bristol to visit the Death: The Human Experience exhibition, at the city museum. We then popped down to the Bag of Nails  pub - famous in Bristol for the free range cats wandering (mostly, to be honest, sleeping) around the pub..

There are some pictures below (click them to enlarge) - but the exhibition blurb is worth reading:

death: the human experience is about the most universal of experiences that we
will encounter.
Hundreds of incredibly diverse objects – from a Ghanaian fantasy coffin to a Victorian mourning dress – reveal captivating stories from cultures across the world, from the earliest human societies to the modern day.
The exhibition encourages you to consider ethical issues, different attitudes to death and how different cultures have dealt with the end of life.
As a society we are reluctant to talk about death and dying. death: the human experience is about helping to start that conversation.
Our HM6502 Love, Sex and Death module deals with these issues - and it was fascinating to learn more, and see examples of some of the material we discuss in class.

only a matter of time..

Sunset in Bristol
Student plus cats..

Monday, December 07, 2015

RPE 2015 Essay Competition Results: The winners..

Well - that was tough!

Over 80 essays - and many of them excellent!

However, after much fighting, many biscuits, and extended soul-searching: we have a result.

The winner of the iPad is Elizabeth Huang, of Magdalen College School (upper sixth), for an essay on Artificial Intelligence and Love - which we hope to publish on this blog soon.

4 Essays were awarded runners-up prizes of an Amazon Voucher - for some really fantastic work. These are:
Phineas Humphris, Thetford Grammar School.
Cameron Newton-Grain, The Cotswold School.
Francesca Lutje-Wilkes, Bearsden Academy.
Jessica Wooff, Cranbrook School.

Thanks to everyone who took part -we really appreciated the work that went into every piece of writing we saw!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

RPE Essay competition - results soon!

FCH Campus - home of RPE.
Well - the RPE essay competition had over 80 entries this year: and we are still reading them!

The standard is very high - but we hope to come to a decision by the end of this week - and will announce the winner on this blog!

Thanks to all those who took part - and watch this space!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Diwali trip 2015.. Pictures, Students, and a mention of 'black Diwali'

This Wednesday saw students from Religion, Philosophy & Ethics at the University of Gloucestershire (along with some welcome guests from Creative Writing, History, and English Literature along too) head up to Leicester for the 2015 Diwali celebrations.

The BBC report that 41000 people attended, a coach-load of them were our students..  We will be back next year for more fireworks, sweets, street food and to witness the celebrations.

Want to know more about Diwali? There is this Pictures and Guide page, and lots more on the web.

This year's celebrations were not without controversy though - as some British Sikhs called for a 'black Diwali' in protest at the visit to the UK by BJP President of India Nanendra Modi. At a Sikh is quoted as saying:

"Whereas previously the parties were more secular and appealing on economic policies or the general policies you might get here, now it's more Hindu nationalism, that's the agenda," he said.
"The other minorities in India are getting a rough ride."

 Nonetheless, many Hindu communities are delighted at his visit - as the article describes.

Click to see more from RPE's Flickr site of trips, speakers, and events.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Class of 2015 Graduation Tea

Please join staff and fellow graduates and their families in the FCH Chapel for tea, cakes and the presentation of prizes, from 2.00pm-3.00pm.

RSVP to the School of Humanities by Friday 6 November 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Welcome from Professor Melissa Raphael

Hello, I'm Melissa Raphael, Professor of Jewish Theology here at the University of Gloucestershire.  I also teach Modern Jewish Thought to rabbinical ordinands in London and am an editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia for Religion and the Arts, with responsibility for Jewish visual art.

My main areas of research and teaching are modern and contemporary Jewish theology, feminist perspectives on theology and religion; art and religion, and the sacred/profane distinction in Western religion.
When I’m not teaching, I write the articles and books that inform many of the modules I’m responsible for here at the University and which contribute to international academic debate:
These are some of my publications: Rudolf Otto and the Concept of Holiness (Oxford University Press, 1997); Thealogy and Embodiment: The Post-Patriarchal Reconstruction of Female Sacrality(Sheffield Academic Press, 1996); Introducing Thealogy: Discourse on the Goddess (Sheffield Academic Press: 1999); The Female Face of God in Auschwitz:A Jewish Feminist Theology of the Holocaust(Routledge, 2003), shortlisted for the Koret Jewish Book Award in 2004 and the subject of an American Academy of Religion panel session in 2009, and Judaism and the Visual Image: A Jewish Theology of Art (Continuum, 2009). I’m currently working on a new book on gender and idolatry
I don’t only lecture at the University of Gloucestershire.  One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that guest lecturing has taken me all over the world, from Seoul to Wisconsin…Some of these guest lectures have included the 2008 Sherman Lectures in Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester, and the 2008 Granville-Goodspeed Lecture in Theology at Denison University, Ohio.  In 2011 I was the Hussey Lecturer in the Church and the Arts at the University of Oxford and in October 2012 I contributed to the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the issuing of A Common Word, a historic interfaith initiative of Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad of Jordan, with a lecture on the nature of love in Judaism, at Regent’s Park College, Oxford.
I’m also Honorary Research Scholar at the University of Wales, Lampeter and sit on the International Board of The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and The Journal of Religion and Gender. I’m Visiting Professor in Theology at the University of Chichester and Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of York, St John. I regularly broadcast on Radio 4 and television and have been the academic representative for the British Government on the International Task Force for Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research.
Outside my life at the University of Gloucestershire, I like to paint, garden, read, draw and hike (especially on coastal paths).

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Hallowe’en Lecture: Re-enchanting culture in a cynical world: Pagans, Satanists, Atheists, Fictional Religions and more. October 28th.

One of the RPE staff, Dr David Webster, will be giving a (free) public lecture on October 28th at the Park Campus of the University of Gloucestershire.

The title is:

The Hallowe’en Lecture: Re-enchanting culture in a cynical world: Pagans, Satanists, Atheists, Fictional Religions and more.

Dr Webster said: “The lecture will consider whether these emerging trends can be seen as the means by which our cynical, suspicious and complex culture expresses its need for life to be something more than a drab series of repeated commercial transactions, culminating in pre-paid funeral plans.”

The event starts with registration and refreshments from 5pm. The lecture is from 6pm until 7pm. Please visit to book a place.

This is a public event - all are welcome - but you do need to use the link above to book a place..

Monday, October 05, 2015

Hello to the Second Year, from Martin Wood.

I am extremely happy to be joining the RPE team for this semester. I will be guiding students through the often complex subject of Hinduism and hopefully encouraging them to engage with the subject with as much enthusiasm and interest as I have done. Over the last ten years I have been working in the field with various Gujarati Hindu communities in India, the U.K. and New Zealand. Much of my research has focused on issues of authority, identity and vernacular traditions, areas that I will no doubt expand upon in the lectures and seminars. I was out in Gujarat earlier this year, which was an astonishing trip, so I intend to lard my lectures with numerous anecdotes from the field (some of which I hope will be received with interest). In the meantime I hope that all the students whom I encounter in the lecture room will find their journey through university greatly enriched by their encounter with the vibrant and dynamic set of religious traditions that we call Hinduism.  

Martin Wood.

Friday, October 02, 2015

A Welcome to new students from Dave


This year marks 10 years of taking students onto the RPE degree. That makes me feel old, as I was there when it all began - as were some students who you can find over on the RPE Facebook group. A lot has happened since then, but the RPE course has become stronger and more successful as time has gone by. As you can see on this post - the recently released National Student Survey gave us 100% overall satisfaction (as it did last year too) - and this was a survey done by final year students.

We also came 3rd in the Guardian 2016 guide to the best courses in the country for this subject area.

As you can tell - I am incredibly proud to part of the team that delivers this amazing course. I can be found contributing sessions in philosophy modules with Course Leader Dr William Large, and I teach the Love, Sex and Death module in the third year. I also teach on some of the interesting things happening in the modern world - so that includes the New Religious Movements course for the first year (semester 2) and the new course which ran for the first time last year - Emergent Spiritualities: you can see some of the video content for this module at: . For the last 7 years (and forever I hope) I have led the Spain Field trip - and love the various coach trips we'll also be taking as part of the course (I think the first one this year will be a Diwali trip to Leicester in November)

I also write and publish - and you'll no doubt be hearing about that in class: but what I hope you're looking forward to most is getting involved in learning with us, arguing with us, and becoming part of the growing community of RPE graduates.


A Welcome to new students from Pekka

I would on my part like to welcome all new students. The study of religion is an exciting enterprise that involves many areas in Humanities and beyond. I myself focus on the study of Christianity, and the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible within its sacred scriptures in particular and currently teach the Christianity module for the RPE course. Otherwise, my interests include natural sciences (my “first love”, with engineering), social scientific, anthropological, postmodern and postcolonial approaches, but I’m always trying to be open to learning something new from any other perspectives. I hope to do my bit to assist you in your journey through the RPE degree. If I can try and pass one bit of my experience at this point, I would say that persistence and raw effort is really a main key to success, at the same time, it is also good to follow one’s interests and impulses in the study (e.g. with reading, assessments and study projects), as everything is better when one can enjoy what one does.

Pekka Pitkanen

Thursday, October 01, 2015

A welcome to our new students from Roy

A warm welcome to our new RPE intake! My name is Roy Jackson and I’ll be teaching you such ‘stuff’ as Greek Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, and Islam. Also, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche may crop up on occasion. I have been teaching at the University of Gloucestershire since 2007 and I probably gain the most satisfaction from seeing students grow and transform over the three years they are here. By the time they leave they are, in most cases (though we can’t win them all), more confident, independent and have developed a series of skills that will help them no matter what career(s) they choose. The sensible ones even stay in academia and go on to do MAs and PhDs. The most important thing, however, is to make the most of your three years: you will make some friends for life and it is an opportunity to really question why we are here and what our place in the world is.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Welcome to all the New Students

Welcome to all our new students who are starting the great adventure that is known as RPE. As Dave mentioned in the previous post, we did excellently in the NSS again. This is testimony not only to us, but also to our wonderful students.

There are many great ideas and activities you are going to be introduced to throughout the year, but one that thing that makes RPE special is all the extra stuff we get up to: visits, societies, and clubs. Oh and we also have been known to go to the pub once and a while.

One important event that I do want to direct your attention to, which is happening soon and is organised by our friends in history, is Black History Month. There will be two events at FCH, which you might be interested in.

Bonnie Greer 'A Talk on Disruption and Insouciance'
Wednesday 14th October, 6.30-8.00 pm

Gary Younge 'Free at Last: Reclaiming the Lost Stories of Black History'
Tuesday 20th October, 6.30-8.00 pm

Both are at FCH and in TC001.

You can book both events at the SU website