It was a real pleasure working with three students over the UNIQ week, in which I tried to give them a taste of an Oxford tutorial. I expected them to research, write, present, and defend an essay, much like an undergraduate. I was concerned that my expectations for the students were too high, but they exceeded them. Positive discussions were had, both in their written work and during the tutorial.
Our question was, ‘what are likely to be some of the main differences between the books which Jesus regarded as the scriptures and the books in the Old Testaments of Christianity today?’
We debated topics with real importance to Christian theology: which are the biblical books? Is the canon closed? What was Jesus’ attitude towards the nature of scripture? In a short space of time we worked through key issues and noted areas for future discussion.
From my perspective, the students were given an active experience of a real academic discussion with wider spiritual implications for those with faith commitments, and they responded well. I can really see the value of UNIQ, for it grants students who wouldn’t normally apply to Oxford the chance to see what is on offer and that such is actually within their reach. In addition, I have personally experienced the value of UNIQ as a chance for DPhil students like myself to hone our work, make it accessible, and gain valuable time teaching. It has further sparked in me a passion for my subject and for teaching; and, I hope, sparked an interest in Theology and Religion in my UNIQ tutorial students too.
I look forward to participating again next year.