Studying Religion: An Introduction


The course introduces students to some of the central issues, questions and debates in the contemporary study of religion. It guides students through a series of case studies, each focusing on a particular topic pertaining to religion, and introduces them ways of thinking about these topics in an informed and critical way.

Students will learn skills to analyse these issues critically and to develop responses to them that are both informed and well-articulated. The course will be organised around five main topics – each topic will be introduced and discussed firstly in wider terms, with main issues and questions highlighted and explored. A case study will then be used to allow students to focus more closely on the topic and to learn the processes of critical analysis and response. These topics may include: religion and violence; religion, gender and sexuality; religion and popular culture; religion and (new) atheism; religious tolerance/intolerance; sacred texts – fact or fiction?; and religion and science.

Throughout the course, students will:

  • Learn to recognise the complexities of defining religion as a historical, philosophical and sociocultural concept, and begin to formulate their own definitions.
  • Become familiar with some of the central issues, questions and debates within the contemporary study of religion.
  • Analyse a number of these issues, questions and debates in depth and develop skills to formulate clear and well-argued responses to them.
  • Become more confident about participating in informed discussions (both written and oral) about these issues, questions and debates.
  • Become familiar with a range of relevant scholarly literature within the field of religious studies, produced by both national and international scholars and develop skills in searching for resources on a particular topic within religious studies.
  • Learn the skills required to compose an informed, well-argued and well-written essay about a particular issue within religious studies.
  • For full course information see the Digital Course Outline for THEOREL 102.

    Digital Course Outlines are refreshed in November for the following year. Digital Course Outlines for courses to be offered for the first time may be published slightly later.

Availability 2024

Not taught in 2024




Craig Martin, A Critical Introduction to the Study of Religion (Abingdon, Routledge, 2012).


Coursework + exam


THEOREL 102: 15 points