Undergraduate Courses in Jewish Studies, including the Biblical World


Courses in Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester are offered in a number of subject areas, particularly Middle Eastern Studies and Religions and Theology. Not all courses are available every year. Here is a provisional list of course units (available in the academic year 2016-2017, units are subject to change in subsequent years). 


MEST10042: The History of Palestine/Israel (1882-1967) - Dr Lauren Banko

This course unit provides an introduction to causes, consequences and controversies associated with the emergence, develoment and consolidation of the conflict in Palestine/Israel from 1882 until the 1967 war. Emphasis is placed on both the socio-political and diplomatic aspects of the conflict. This is a year 1 course. As such, it assumes no knowledge about the topic; students who for whatever reason happen to be somewhat knowledgeable about the topic may find this fact fortunate or unfortunate - but this course is geared entirely toward those new to the subject.

RELT10192: Introduction to Judaism - Prof Alex Samely

The course will define Judaism as a religious system based on Torah, with two main aspects - beliefs and practices. The concept of Torah will be analysed, and the methods of Jewish hermeneutics (Midrash), by which Torah is applied to changing historical circumstances, explained. The basic creed of Judaism - its fundamental beliefs about God, the world, humankind, the people of Israel, and history - will be explored, as they are expressed in Jewish law, Jewish mysticism, Jewish ethics and Jewish philosophy. The major practices and rituals of Judaism will be considered, especially those which involve the sanctification of time, space and persons. The role of religious symbolism in Judaism will be analysed, particularly as it is expressed through art, architecture and religious artefacts. This account of the broad structure of Judaism will be set within a historical overview of Judaism from Biblical to modern times, which will identify the major events, developments and figures. Factors which have created diversity (history, geography and ideology) will be examined and an account given of the major modern varieties of Judaism - Orthodoxy, Reform and Conservatism. The course will conclude with a demographic and statistical overview of Judaism today, and with a consideration of some of the major issues which currently exercise the Jewish community (e.g. assimilation and loss of identity, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, the State of Israel, and the status of women).

MEST10210Modern Hebrew Language 1 - Mrs Sophie Garside and Ms Malka Hodgson

 Related 1st year course units (includes Jewish component):

MEST10711: The Contemporary Middle EastProf Zahia Salhi 

This is an introductory module on the contemporary Middle East, with sections devoted to geography, history, politics, economics, society, religion, gender, literature, arts and cinema. Two principal thematic questions generally run throughout the course, linking is various sections. They are: "What, if anything, is distinctive and exceptional about the Middle East?" and "How has the Middle East changed during the modern age?" Students will be introduced to the use of a range of sources relating to the contemporary Middle East, including reference and survey works, studies of particular subjects, and internet resources. The principal objective of this module is to lay the foundations for a deeper study of the Middle East while facilitating acquisition of intellectual and personal transferable skills.

RELT10311: Introduction to the Study of Religion and TheologyDr Daniel Garner

The course will introduce four prominent and influential thinkers from a range of religious traditions, ranging from Augustine of Hippo to the Sufi poet Rumi and the medieval Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides. These “classics” within religious studies are intended to introduce you to the problems and key questions in the academic study of religions and theology. The lectures are designed to provide a mix of introductory overview material as well as critical research and essay writing skills. In the seminars you will discuss these questions further in relation to primary texts in order to go into more depth. The seminars are also designed to help you become aware of how your own presuppositions affect how you see the religious practices and beliefs of others, as well as hone your interpersonal and communication skills.

RELT10711Bible in Ancient and Modern Worlds – Dr Peter Oakes

This unit teaches understanding of the Bible as a collection of texts written in ancient contexts but with continuing impact in contexts today. You will learn skills in interpreting biblical texts in relation to other ancient texts, as well as skills in evaluating present-day uses of the Bible. The course covers key examples of texts from both the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. You will not need knowledge of Hebrew or Greek to study the course.

RELT10241: Religion, Ethics and the Environment - Dr Andrew Boakye  


(1st and 3rd year students may be allowed to take one 2nd year course)

MEST20210: Modern Hebrew Language 2 - Mrs Sophie Garside and Ms Malka Hodgson

This is a lower intermediate level language course which teaches the skills of reception (reading and listening), production (speaking and writing) in the target language and mediation between the target language and English (translation and interpretation).

RELT20140: Biblical Hebrew - Dr Renate Smithuis

To learn the basics of Hebrew, beginning with the alphabet, and to read the Book of Jonah in Hebrew. The course is primarily intended to prepare you to undertake the subsequent study of Hebrew texts, but those who have successfully completed it should be able to consult the Hebrew text of the Bible and make intelligent use of commentaries and other works which presume a basic knowledge of Hebrew.

RELT20652: Jewish Philosophy and Ethics - Prof Alex Samely

The course aims to help students engage with the philosophical discourse surrounding the Jewish tradition.  We will examine some key strands in the historical development of “Jewish” philosophy, but also ask what “Jewish” here means; examine key contributions to the development of the contemporary philosophical agenda with regard to Judaism and Jewishness; and study in detail a sample of thinkers of Judaism and Jewishness in English translation, with text selections from the works of Saadia, Maimonides, Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Cohen, Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Ochs and Ross. Students will be encouraged to examine critically philosophical arguments and to develop philosophical questions in response to texts read in the seminars, and in their assessed Essays.

RELT21021: Ethical Issues from Joshua to Jesus - Dr Todd Klutz

This Second Level course unit is designed to consider a range of texts from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the teaching of Jesus according to the New Testament that raise significant ethical issues, including war and violence, justice and peace, gender, marriage and family life, wealth and poverty, ecology.

MEST20272: Themes in the Histories of Arab and Jewish Nationalism - Dr Moshe Behar

 Related 2nd year course units (includes Jewish component):

ARGY20941: Changing Worlds in the Near East and East Mediterranean – Dr Lindy Crewe

The Near East and Eastern Mediterranean is the setting for major and at times spectacular examples of how society reacts to fundamental and sometimes sudden internal and external change (e.g. such as reactions to early sedentism/agriculture, earthquakes, climate change, volcanic eruptions, catastrophic change within society). This course therefore aims to examine social responses to change, as well as appropriate archaeological techniques and theories, using an exceptionally rich dataset linked to specific case studies.

RELT20121: Religion, Culture and GenderMs Katja Stuerzenhofecker

This course aims to evaluate shifting attitudes towards the nature of gender identity, roles and relationships in Western societies and religious traditions as practiced in the West. Emphasis will be placed on the interaction between religion, culture and gender, focusing especially on how the academic study of religion, and Western religious traditions themselves, have responded to changing gender positions and performances. The course will introduce different theoretical perspectives on gender identities, e.g. social constructionism, feminist and womanist theologies, and explore their relationship with contemporary social and political movements concerned with gender inequalities. While exploring several religious traditions, the unit will specifically identify how Jewish and Christian religious traditions have responded to the experiences of women and men in society. There will also be an opportunity to assess how contemporary images and representations of women and men in media, literature and popular culture reflect theoretical debates in the academy.

GERM20351: Gender,Sex,Race - Dr Cathy Gelbin

This course unit looks at ideas of difference based on gender, sexuality and race in early twentieth-century German literary texts and film. We will explore how during this period, based on the new science of biology, gender, sexuality and race became seen as the defining features of human character. Lectures and seminar discussions will explore the ways in which set literary texts and films both reflect and critically engage especially with the racial ideologies that ultimately gave rise to Nazism. Further readings, such as Otto Weininger's widely influential theories on gender and race, as well as Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical work on human sexual development, will sharpen seminar participants' understanding of major concepts of difference in early twentieth century European culture. Seminar participants are expected to participate actively in seminar discussions. All prescribed texts should be acquired and read before the seminar. Essay questions are comparative and draw on several of the discussed works.


(2nd year students may be allowed one 3rd year course)

GERM30481Screening the Holocaust Dr Cathy Gelbin

This course unit will examine the filmic treatment of the Nazi atrocities and their memory from the late 1940s through to the present. Tracing the ongoing debates around appropriate modes of Holocaust representation, we will examine the major political, psychological and aesthetic issues at stake in feature film and in documentary and essay films. In so doing, we will consider film’s potential to convey the personal dimension of the Holocaust together with art’s ethical implications in the face of atrocity. Among other themes, we will look at the representation of the Holocaust in Hollywood, European, and Israeli cinema, and at issues of gender, sexuality and generation both in the context of the experience and the memory and representation of the Holocaust. Major questions and themes throughout our study of filmic works will include the notion of ‘an event without a witness’, the Holocaust as having breached ‘the limits of representation’, the idea of the Holocaust as 'rupture of civilization', and the proposition of a 'multidirectional memory' in the context of the Holocaust and migration/postcoloniality. We will engage with films and with theoretical texts through a multidisciplinary cultural approach in order to understand the meaning of cultural memory as social knowledge and how such knowledge is represented and produced through film.

RELT30380: Biblical Hebrew Texts - Dr Renate Smithuis

Genesis 1-3; 2 Samuel 6-7; selected Psalms.

MEST30210: Modern Hebrew Language 3 - Mrs Sophie Garside and Ms Malka Hodgson

This is an advanced level language course which teaches the skills of reception (reading and listening), production (speaking and writing) in the target language and mediation between the target language and English (translation and interpretation).

RELT30332: Holocaust TheologyProf Daniel Langton

This unit focuses on the area of modern Jewish and Christian thought known as Holocaust Theology.  Jewish and Christian theologians have both sought to respond to the challenge presented by the radical evil of Holocaust and the suffering it caused.  The course will critically examine many of the key responses to this challenge and seek a deeper understanding of the main issues involved such as: the problem of evil and suffering, theodicy and the nature of evil, the covenant, the use of scripture and the Jewish mystical traditions, and implications for Jewish-Christian relations.

RELT30711: Women and Gender in the Biblical World - Dr Holly Morse

MEST30501: Armed struggle and ideology in Palestine and Israel, 1929-2001

Related 3rd year course units (includes Jewish component):

HIST31521: Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany: Comparisons, Contrasts, and Entanglement - Dr Christian Goeschel

This course compares and contrasts Nazi Germany to Fascist Italy. It discusses the extent to which there was a transfer and entanglement of ideas, policies and practices between the two regimes. Did Fascist Italy serve as a model for Nazi Germany and vice versa? Each session explores a key theme concerning the origins and development of fascism, the nature of the regimes; resistance and repression; society; class; gender; foreign policy; racial policy and Nazism and Fascism in memory and historiography. This course will introduce students to primary sources in translation and selected film extracts and other visual sources. All in all, this course allows students to engage critically in a comparative social and cultural history that is firmly grounded in the political. Students will also learn how to think critically about the (political) motives, methods and processes of research in this area.

MEST30082: Contemporary Cinema of the Middle East – Dr Dalia Mostafa

This course unit is intended to introduce students to the contemporary cinema of the Middle East, in order to develop their critical awareness and appreciation of the various approaches and aesthetics which characterise Arab, Iranian, Turkish, and Israeli cinemas at the present. Students will view films as well as read and analyse texts on film theory and aesthetics. Cinema is a popular and flourishing industry in the Middle East, and has a large audience. We will be discussing cinema as a creative medium which has two main objectives: entertainment, and communicating issues of concern in the life of its audiences throughout the Middle East. Cinema will be analysed as an aesthetic tool and as a product of the societies it aims to influence. One important question which we will consider is: to what extent does cinema have an impact on Middle Eastern societies? The course unit will focus on a selection of films by major directors from the Arab world, Iran, Turkey, and Israel, whose work has been influential and recognised worldwide. These directors have reflected issues of concern to Middle Eastern audiences, such as: family, class and gender relations as integral to the understanding of Middle Eastern societies: authoritarian regimes vs the individual: transformations in Middle Eastern cities; political conflicts; wars and revolutions; identity issues; and contemporary youths' life in the Middle East.

MEST30092: Culture and Society in the Middle East and North AfricaMrs Sophie Garside and Prof Zahia Salhi

The study of the cultures of the Middle East is the main objective of this module. Starting with a set of lectures on the meaning of culture and an insight into the specifity of the region in terms of land, people and their social customs, the module will then focus on the Middle Eastern family and will examine gender roles in both the public and private spheres, the role of patriarchy in shaping gender roles and family ties, and the region's never ending dilemma of struggling with modernity. Other topics include marriage as a site of cultural celebrations, with case studies from Egypt, Palestine and Morocco; New year celebrations with case studies from Israel and Iran; male and female circumcision as practiced in Christian, Jewish and Muslim societies, honour and honour killings; Middle Eastern costumes and jewellery will also be studied.

RUSS30001: War, Memory and Politics of Commemoration in Eastern EuropeDr Ewa Ochman

This course unit studies the remembering of the Second World War after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. It focuses specifically on exploring the interaction between a re-examination of the past, which remains contentious and traumatic, and the construction of a new post-communist identity in Eastern Europe. Topics to be addressed include the following: collective memory and the forms and functions of social remembering; sites of memory (death camps, cemeteries, museums and monuments); memory and national identity; identity politics in the European Union; public commemoration of the Holocaust; collective remembrance of the Red Army; and present perceptions of collaboration during World War II.