Transcendence, Devotion and Desire (L3119A)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn 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 30 hours of contact time and about 270 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: