Sylalabus of “Introduction to Religious Studies”

Introduction to Religious Studies

Course description

Introduction to Religious Studies is designed as a course that acquaints students with how religion is an essential part of human life. It is undeniable that religion is everywhere and is manifested extensively in various realms of the human experience. The study of religions therefore could not be more pertinent to our understanding of the world and be more apropos to our search for the meaning of our existence.

The course is intended to inform and to provide food for thought rather than to indoctrinate. It investigates not only the history, beliefs, and practices of the major religions considered, but rather to present religion as a dynamic force that provides meaning and direction to the lives of individuals and that constructs the collective experience of societies. It also explores how religion is perceived and approached, and provides the contours and issues of the contemporary religious studies.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, a student is expected to have acquired the following:

  • Understanding of the language of religion and of the historical development and the dynamics of religious studies.
  • Learning how religions are perceived and approached, and the relationships of religions with various realms of human life.
  • Acquiring knowledge of various religious traditions and their transformation as well as contemporary issues in religious studies.
  • Developing an attitude of critical self-awareness about the possibilities of our intellectual tools and methods for understanding religion both in the social and personal dimensions.

Course Requirement

The course is composed of considerable material both in the lectures and in the readings. It is assumed that students who register in the course will be obliged to fulfil minimum requirement of attendance and will be required to prepare all the readings before they arrive in class. To further motivate the preparation, there would be quizzes, class homework, group presentations, and group discussions to be conducted during the semester. The course can be expected to be highly appreciative of active participation and effective engagement demonstrated by sedulous students.

Assessment

The assessment for Introduction to Religious Studies is determined to be based on the following:

Attendance 10%
Presentation and participation 20%
Mid term essay 35%
Final term essay 35%

Course Policies

The course holds to the belief that excellence in learning can be achieved in an intellectual environment where academic integrity is highly valued and carefully upheld. Consequently, all assignments, projects, reports, papers and examinations submitted to this course are expected to be the student’s own work. Students should always take great care to distinguish their own ideas and knowledge from information derived from sources. Students are responsible for educating themselves about plagiarism and will be held accountable for any consequences arising from deriliction and non-observance.

Methods of instruction

In this course the methods of instruction will be composed of: lecture presentation, group presentation, group discussions, interactive dialogues, and audiovisual presentations.

Consultations

The course made provision for consultations on academic issues pertaining to the lectures, the readings, and the course. Two hours in each week are allocated for this particular purpose. It will be made available on one hour before and one hour after the lecture. Students are welcome to contact the lecturer during working hours or through electronic means.

Required Readings

The required readings necessary for the course are composed of primary references, secondary references, audiovisual materials, and online resources. Students who enrol in this course are assumed to be internet literate and are expected to be able to take maximum advantage of online resources made available by the college. Secondary references are listed separately and be made available upon request.

Audiovisual materials during the duration of this course will be presented in the class and are consisted of the following film documentaries:

  • Joseph Campbell: message of the myth (extraction)
  • Karen Armstrong: the History of God (extraction)
  • The Network (extraction)

The primary references are methodologically prepared to provide perspectives and to allow students to work towards becoming independent readers that acquire rudimentary knowledge and understandings of the course. They are the following:

  • Alles, Gregory D. (ed), 2008, Religious Studies: A Global View, London: Routledge
  • Corrywright, Dominic and Morgan, Peggy, 2006, Get Set for Religious Studies, Edinburgh: Ediburgh University Press
  • Hinnells, John (ed), 2005, The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion, New York: Routledge
  • Mawson, T.J., 2005, Belief in God: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Nye, Malory, 2006, Religion: The Basics, 2nd Ed, New York: Routledge
  • Segal, Robert A. (ed), 2006, The Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion, London: Blackwell
  • Super, John C. and Turley, Brian K. (eds), 2006, Religion in World History: The Persistence of Imperial Communion, London: Routledge
  • Woodhead, Linda (ed), 2002, Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations, London: Routledge

Course Content

The content of the course represented various topics discussed which are arranged as follows:

Part I. Defining religion

What is and definitions of religion

Study of religion

Study of religion in historical perspectives

Part II. Perspectives and Approaches to Religion

Theology

Philosophy of religion

Phenomenology of religion

Anthropology of religion

Psychology of religion

Comparative studies of religion

Sociology of religion

Economics of religion

Part III. Contour of Religion

Religion and culture

Religion and power

Religion and gender

Religion and belief

Religion, myths, and ritual

Religion, texts, and authority

Part IV. Tradition and Transformation of Religions

Abrahamic religions:   Judaism, Christianity, Islam

Indian religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism

Chinese and Japanese religions

New Age and New Religious Movements

Part V. Contemporary issues

Secularisation and desecularisation

Modernity, postmodernity, globalisation

Orientalism, pluralism, nationalism

Religious experience, fundamentalism

Science, cognition, and geography

Course schedule

The schedule of the course is arranged as follows:

Week

Description

Readings

1 Introduction

Part I.

Defining religion:

What is and definitions of religion

Study of religion

Study of religion in historical perspectives

Nye: ch. 1

Corrywright et al: ch. 1-2

Hinnells: ch. 1-2,6

2 Part II.

Perspectives and Approaches to Religion:

Theology

Philosophy of religion

Corrywright et al: ch. 3,5

Hinnells: ch. 3-5

Segal: ch. 9,6

3 Phenomenology of religion

Anthropology of religion

Corrywright et al: ch. 4,6

Hinnells: ch. 10,8

Segal: ch. 5,1

4 Psychology of religion

Comparative studies of religion

Corrywright et al: ch. 8

Hinnells: ch. 9,11

Segal: ch. 7,2

5 Sociology of religion

Economics of religion

Corrywright et al: ch. 7

Hinnells: ch. 7

Segal: ch. 8,3

6 Part III.

Contour of Religion

Religion and culture

Nye: ch. 2

Hinnells: ch. 28

Super et al: ch. 1-2

7 Religion and power Nye: ch. 3

Hinnells: ch. 24

Super et al: ch. 5-7

8 Religion and gender Nye: ch. 4

Hinnells: ch. 12

Segal: ch. 10

9 Religion and belief Nye: ch. 5

Segal: ch. 11,12,14

Mawson: ch. 1

10 Religion, myths, and ritual Nye: ch. 6

Hinnells: ch. 20

Segal: ch. 19,23

11 Religion, texts, and authority Nye: ch. 7

Hinnells: ch. 21,22

Segal: ch. 15

Super et al: ch. 33

12 Part IV.

Tradition and Transformation of Religions

Abrahamic religions:

Judaism, Christianity,  Islam

Woodhead: ch. 6-8

Alles: ch. 1-4

13 Indian religions:

Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism

Chinese and Japanese religions

Woodhead: ch. 1-5

Alles: ch. 5-7

14 New Age and New Religious Movements

Part V.

Contemporary issues

Secularisation and desecularisation

Woodhead: ch. 11-12

Hinnells: ch. 17-18

Segal: ch. 18,21

Nye: ch.8

Hinnells: ch. 16

Segal: ch. 24

Woodhead: ch. 13

15 Modernity, postmodernity, globalisation

Orientalism, pluralism, nationalism

Woodhead: ch. 14

Segal: ch. 17

Hinnells: ch.14

Hinnells: ch. 15,23

Segal: ch. 20

16 Religious experience, fundamentalism

Science, cognition, and geography

Hinnells: ch. 13,19

Segal: ch. 13

Hinnells: ch. 26,27,25

Segal: ch. 22

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