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).


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 http://bit.ly/1Kx7y4f 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..

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.

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: https://philosvids.wordpress.com/tag/hm6502/ . 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

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.