Transcendence, Devotion and Desire (L3119B)

30 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

Starting from a phenomenological perspective, this module aims to explore the phenomenon of transcendence, the contextually situated (but, perhaps universal) human desire and capacity to transcend local ‘situations’. Addressing such themes as sex, drugs, death, gods of war, cultism, mysticism, secular transcendence, dreams, and false promises, it explores the powerful world of devotion and desire, developing sociologically how we might conceptualise human relations with such ‘gods’, alongside thinking critically about the worlds engendered by such relations.

This module raises questions about the varied ontological assumptions present within different social settings (i.e. what exists to be devoted to); it looks at the narratives people employ to makes sense of their devotions and desires (i.e. stories expressing deep-seated ontological assumptions); and it explores how the body learns to desire and be devoted in particular ways (i.e. the forming of charismatic bodily attachments to various ‘gods’ that shape and govern our lives).


33%: Lecture
67%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Portfolio)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: