Faculty of Arts


Religion and Violence

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for THEOREL 305.


Is religion inherently violent? The complex relationship between religious traditions and violence has become particularly acute in the first decades of the Twenty-first Century. Some voices identify religion in general, or specific religious traditions, as inherently violent. Others seek to dissociate the two, either arguing that “true” expressions of religion are not violent, or by pointing to counter-examples of religious peacemaking or secular violence, or by arguing that it is impossible to single out religion from a complex of related causes that lead to violence.

This course approaches the relationships between religion and violence historically and theoretically, looking at the complex attitudes towards violence within a range of religious traditions and texts, as well as scholarly debate about how to define “religion,” which is sometimes said to be a unique cause or agent of violence.We will approach these issues through a series of historical case studies selected from different religious traditions and ranging from antiquity to the present.

By the end of the course, students will

  • Have developed an understanding of the concepts of violence and religion and some of the ways that these concepts are articulated and understood within a number of religious traditions, texts and communities throughout history.
  • Be able to have an informed discussion about contemporary issues surrounding religion and violence within religious traditions, texts and communities, including debates or controversies surrounding these issues.
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of and ability to engage critically with different methodological approaches to researching religion and violence.
  • Have been exposed to some of main scholarly literature and be able to engage with it in an informed and critical way.
  • Have been shown some of the skills required in academic writing and guided through the process of composing a well-argued, well-written and engaging essay.

Availability 2018

Not taught in 2018


Lecturer(s) Dr Caroline Blyth
Dr Nicholas Thompson


THEOREL 305: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage II



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