Religion, Christianity, Life Perspectives and Philosophy - Didactics PPUREL15

Course Objectives

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Course Description


  1. Religion, Christianity, Life Perspectives, Philosophy and Ethics

Human beings have always been preoccupied with existential questions. The study of history provides evidence that religion, life perspectives and philosophy have played an important part in the formation of one’s aims in life, practical choices of life and identity for individuals and for groups of people. A variety of ideas and representations with their basis in the various philosophical movements, religions and life perspectives have resulted in different outlooks on life.

This course curriculum is developed in relation to the school subjects Christianity, Religion and Life Perspectives in the lower secondary school (5th-10th grades); and Religion and Ethics in the general-education branch of studies, and the elective in Philosophy, in upper secondary schools. The foundation of these school subjects is broad and heterogeneous and includes many academic disciplines which incorporate different methods of approach and scientific traditions. Each of these disciplines contributes its own specific knowledge which expands and adds nuance to the knowledge we have today. Although the school subjects cover topics which have their basis in several academic disciplines, it is primarily the academic disciplines Christianity/theology, science and history of religion and philosophy/ history of ideas that form the basis for the courses that are part of the Subject-teacher (BA) and the Post Graduate Certificate in Education study programmes.

Knowledge of Christian beliefs and tradition plays an important part in understanding Norwegian and European culture, and in understanding modern-day norms and values. At the same time, today’s multicultural society, which includes people who build their identities on religious traditions other than Christianity, creates a need for knowledge and understanding of our own and other religious traditions. Internationalisation, modern media and IT bring us constantly into contact with a global network, making us participants in a heterogeneous society. It is therefore important that we develop a self-identity that prepares us to encounter a wide range of religions, cultures and beliefs in society.

We also face great ethical challenges in today’s world. If we are to maintain a society that respects the individual and the rule of law in the future, it is fundamental that education focuses on ethical awareness.

Subject-didactics covers the particular task to link subjects taught at universities and universities colleges school-subjects by stimulating reflection and problem-solving processes related to both school and study subjects.

  1. Religion, Christianity, Life Perspectives, Philosophy and Ethics in the educational system

When general schooling ( allmueskolen) was established in 1739, teaching in Christianity formed the main part of the curriculum. Until the Lower Secondary School Act was introduced in 1969, the subject Christianity in schools retained its roots in the Christian instruction, for instance instruction regarding baptism. As a consequence of the subject’s roots in parents’ rights, the subject of ‘life perspectives’ was introduced. The subjects of Christianity and Life Perspectives were combined under the Education Reform of 1997 under the title of Christianity, Religion and Life Orientation; the subject was revised in 2002 and the title of the subject in Norwegian was changed to Christianity, Religion and Life Perspectives with the Norwegian acronym KRL.

In the upper secondary school, the subject was called theology until 1809. The subject has changed its name and content several times since then; in 1976, for instance, the subject became one of the common, general subjects, and was called religion. Today the subject is called religion and ethics and consists of three main topics that are given equal emphasis: modern, non-Christian religions; Christianity and life perspectives; and philosophy and ethics.

In higher education, theology, Christianity, science of religion/history of religion, history of ideas and philosophy are studied at university colleges and universities in Norway.

  1. Subject didactics in religion, Christianity, life perspectives, philosophy and ethics in the study programme General Teacher Education

The subject areas of religion, Christianity, life perspectives, philosophy and ethics are represented in mandatory subjects in the General Teacher Education and in Pre-school Teacher Education study programmes; subject didactics also forms a part of this area of study.

In this course curriculum the subject content is specified in five target areas. The teaching usually covers several of these target areas simultaneously. The target areas are as follows:

  • The characteristics, development and legitimisation of the subjects
  • Learning material and pupils’ needs
  • The teacher’s role and professional ethics
  • Teaching and learning methods and practical-pedagogical skills
  • Educational research and development


Students will:

  • Acquire an understanding of the basic subjects’ and school subjects’ characteristics, development and legitimisation
  • Develop knowledge of the curriculum for school subjects so that they are able to relate to them in a constructive and reflective manner
  • Develop an insight into pupils’ worlds and use this insight to provide adaptive learning
  • Develop a reflective attitude towards the teacher’s role and an ethically aware attitude towards future practice in the teaching profession
  • Acquire effective practical-pedagogical skills to plan, carry out and assess teaching and learning
  • Acquire knowledge and learn to appreciate the value of educational and subject development in order to meet challenges and contribute to changes in the educational system of the future

The characteristics, development and legitimisation

In today’s society the teaching of religion, philosophy and life perspectives in the public educational system gives rise to pedagogical and political questions of special interest. This target area is concerned with the historical and current perspectives related to the legitimisation of the subjects, their characteristics, development and place in the educational system and in society.

Students will be able to:

  • Describe the main characteristics of the history of the basic subjects, and the traditions they represent
  • Describe the school subjects’ histories, development and debate on the subjects’ place in the educational system, and present arguments why they have a place in modern society
  • Discuss the role of school subjects as basis for knowledge; useful tool; community subjects and as subjects that promote religion and life perspectives.
  • Discuss the school subjects’ aims and content, and their meaning in the context of cultural diversity.
  • Identify the connection between the development of each subject and changes in society.

Learning materials and pupils’ needs

The content of school subjects is partly historical, and partly concerned with questions that to a large extent are related to the pupils and their lives. This target area focuses on the knowledge aspect of the subjects and on factors which may affect pupils’ learning abilities.

Students will be able to:

  • Describe the relevant curricula of the subjects; be able to interpret them in relation to overall goals and values; be able to use the curricula when selecting study material, and adapt them to local conditions at school and classroom level.
  • Map and assess pupils’ level of knowledge and development and other aspects of learning, and be able to adapt teaching for pupils in co-operation with the pupils’ parents.
  • Apply rules for limited exemption, and be able to meet relevant pedagogical and practical challenges by using, for instance, differentiated teaching for specific children.
  • Give an account of the religious and moral development of children and young people, their relationship to peers, parents and society, and be able to use this insight in their professional work.
  • Select and use subject content, teaching, learning and assessment methods suited to meet the pedagogical challenges that the multi-cultural classroom represents, in relation to differences in religious beliefs and practices, patterns of life and gender roles, etc.
  • Discuss the role and function of religion and life perspectives in today’s multi-cultural society.
  • Discuss the concepts of dialogue and identity in relation to school subjects.

The teacher’s role and professional ethics

A teachers’ profession is complex and deals with the teacher as planner, disseminator, study leader, supervisor, colleague, role model and care-giver. The course focuses on the importance of understanding the relationship between the various aspects of the teacher’s role and how these are expressed in the teacher’s work with school subjects and overall educational goals. The target area also focuses on various ethical aspects of the teaching profession.

Students will be able to:

  • Inspire and demonstrate an attentive attitude towards pupils which will motivate them to contribute with resources drawn from their own religions, beliefs and background
  • Demonstrate attitudes characterised by openness, interest, empathy, respect and professionalism when interacting with people with different religions and beliefs
  • Discuss the various aspects of the teacher’s role in relation to the subjects’ curricula as well as overall educational goals and values
  • Explain the various ethical issues with regard to teaching the school subjects and observe ethical standards in their own professional role

Teaching and learning methods and practical-pedagogical skills

Adapted teaching is central in Norwegian educational policy in Norway. In this respect the choice and use of various teaching and learning methods is central. In addition, the school subjects provide scope for the use of varied methods.

Students will be able to:

  • Explain how they can use subject-didactic potential in co-operation with various religious societies and life perspective organisations
  • Explain how they can make use of the potential of school subjects in project work, topical and interdisciplinary projects, and be able to make use of such methods in their own teaching
  • Discuss the challenges which arise through the interaction between the aesthetic dimension and the subject material and use this in teaching
  • Evaluate and make use of different tools in teaching, including information and communications technology (ICT), both in relation to didactic and ethical approaches
  • Evaluate and use various forms of evaluation of pupils’ work and be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the methods used
  • Give an account and make use of various subject didactic approaches in the subjects in order to realise the principle of adapted teaching

Educational research and development

Educational research and development are important for achieving a better understanding of questions related to teaching and learning. They are also necessary for enabling us to meet new challenges that are posed by the changing conditions and context of the teaching of religion and life perspectives. Insight and motivation are necessary prerequisites for participation in educational research and development work, both with regard to students’ development in relation to the subject and its pedagogical aspects, and when contributing to development in the educational sector.

Students will be able to:

  • Give an account of some of the main topics in the current debate regarding didactic and pedagogical aspects of the subject religion, and be prepared to participate in such debates
  • Provide examples, and keep up to date on how the school subjects have developed in other countries
  • Explain some of the current research and development (RD) projects within the subject area

Learning Methods

In general

Religion, Christianity, Life Perspectives and Philosophy – Didactics is a 15 ECTS course (alternatively a 30 ECTS course for students who only wish to take a course in didactics) which forms part of the study programme, Post Graduate Certificate in Education (60 ECTS).

The course focuses on the attitude-forming aspect of subject knowledge, and students will be schooled in this part of a teacher’s work. If pupils are to discuss meaningfully existential problems based on their own experiences, and be stimulated to personal growth and development, then the teaching of the subject should include respect and tolerance and basic insight into various life perspectives and sets of values. Organisation, teaching and learning methods should consequently be selected with an aim of increasing students’ awareness of their own position regarding faith and life belief questions.

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching and learning methods used will encourage students to become aware of the special aspect of the subjects that are included in ‘Religion, Christianity, Life Perspectives and Philosophy’ by discussing existential questions and using teaching methods that stimulate curiosity, provide experiences and offer an opportunity for reflection.

Focus on the teaching practice forms an important part of the students’ work, and students will be provided with the opportunity to discuss and reflect on their teaching practice experiences. Consequently, before students start their period of teaching practice, it is important they practice the teaching methods emphasised in the curriculum which are used in schools.

Hence, the course will focus on group work with discussions regarding subject didactic questions supervised by the subject teacher. Students will be given the opportunity to prepare and introduce discussions focusing on important subject and didactic questions individually or in groups. Consequently, it is expected that students will actively participate in the course. Participation in the form of student presentations, and response to the presentation of other students, is thus a mandatory part of the course. Two seminars regarding information and communications technology, and the aesthetic dimension of the teaching of religion, are also mandatory.

As far as the teaching and learning methods are concerned it is also important to emphasise that the students are responsible for their own learning, and that self-study is necessary if students are to grasp the subject material.

Assessment Methods


Students will receive supervision throughout the course to assist them in developing the personal and professional qualities required in the teaching profession. The supervision will aid students in their evaluation of where they stand in relation to the goals and expectations of the teacher-education programme, thus stimulating their efforts in day-to-day work. Students will be able to arrange supervision throughout the course of the whole study, but it will be of particular use in relation to essay writing and during practice teaching periods.

Final assessment

In order to register for the final assessment, students must have participated in the mandatory parts of the course. See below under organisation. The semester plan distributed at the start of the course will explain which parts of the course are mandatory.

During the course of the study, students must write a development project, which constitutes the written part of the student work to be assessed. This is a take-home examination with no time limit, but with a deadline for submission. Students must receive a passing grade in the development project before they will be allowed to take the oral examination. The development project may be written individually or in groups. Students may select their own topic and project question, but these must be approved by each student’s designated supervisor and subject teacher. While working on the project each student is required to give an oral presentation for the other students, which will be followed by a discussion. The development project counts for 50% of the final grade.

In addition there is an oral examination based on the development project. Students may be examined on the whole syllabus. The oral part of the examination counts for 50% of the final grade.

A single grade will be entered on the diploma, graded from A to F, where A is the highest grade and E is the lowest passing grade. Students must receive a passing grade on each part of the assessment in order to achieve a final passing grade for the course.

Please refer to Telemark University College’s Examination Regulation for further information.

Students taking 30 ECTS in the subject are required to write a more comprehensive development project and must select additional syllabus texts of roughly 600 pages; this selection must be approved by the course teacher before they can take part in the final assessment.

Minor adjustments may occur during the academic year, subject to the decision of the Dean

Publisert av / forfatter Idar Vassli <>, last modified Ian Hector Harkness - 01/04/2011