Undergraduate Program

The Department of Studies in Religion offers units of study at both Pass and Honours level. Units of study can be taken as part of a major in Studies in Religion or a major in World Religions or as stand alone units (electives).

Studies in Religion is an academic discipline that is open, serious, scholarly and critical. Studies in Religion equips students with the necessary skills in critical thinking to understand and interrogate the central role of religion - overtly and covertly - in broader socio-cultural practices. The discipline draws on a wide range of methodologies, including (but not limited to) history, philosophy, sociology, textual studies and cultural studies. We aim to enable students to master a body of academic knowledge, facilitated by cross-disciplinary tools, needed to comprehend the particular nature of religion (both through texts and engagement with living communities). This includes consideration of ways in which students can take leadership roles in the global community of scholars of religion. Studying Religion also develops in students a necessary awareness of those problematic issues that pertain to the study of concepts of ultimacy and transcendence held by individuals and communities, whether they involve gods, ideals, holy people and places, texts and practices, or sacralised versions of ‘secular’ phenomena (self, sport, consumerism etc).

Studying Religion facilitates student development of sensitivity when approaching the religious, and a deep consideration of ethical issues that arise when examining religious phenomena (ritual, new religious movements, primary sources), as well as a clear understanding of the difference between the academic study of religion, public commentary on religion (for example media and political discourses), and the confessional discipline of theology. In this way, studying Religion stresses a profound ethical and social understanding of the need for both scholarly rigour and ethical sensitivity when approaching any phenomenon that might be labelled 'religious'.

The chief outcome is the ability of the student to use his or her acquired knowledge and skills in a variety of academic and non-academic situations. These include the understanding of important methodological thematics behind the teaching of the discipline at primary and high school level, contributing to public policy, and generally being aware of the role religion plays in other fields of study, and in the diversity of religions and ultimate goals that add to both the diverse nature and the cohesion of the modern multi-ethnic, multi-faith state.

Units of Study

A description and timetable of all units of study on offer through the department is available by selecting from the menu on the left.

Major in Studies in Religion

A description of the major for students commencing their degree in or after 2014 can be found here.

Students who commenced their degree prior to 2014 should refer to the description of the major in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Handbook from the year they commenced.

Pathways Through the Major

There are three significant pathways through the Studies in Religion Major:

  • historical development: focuses on ancient polytheisms, the emergence of monotheism, and ‘world religions’ such as Hinduism; this pathway concentrates on the student’s mastery of a body of knowledge about religious traditions
  • contemporary religious phenomena: introduces contemporary themes in the study of religion and concentrates on the student’s understanding of what religion, myth and spirituality say about the contemporary world
  • methodology and theory: focus on methodological issues, models and theories of religion, and includes religious manifestations of religion that fall outside of both the ‘traditional’ and the ‘contemporary’ models of religion.

These pathways are not compulsory, and a student can still complete a sound Religion Major by choosing units from across the three pathways to construct their Major.

Major in World Religions

A description of the major for students commencing their degree in or after 2014 can be found here.

The Major in World Religions is administered from the Department of Studies in Religion but is an inter-disciplinary program. If you are interested in a Major in World Religions, please contact the Program Coordinator.

Honours Program

An Honours degree with Studies in Religion is a statement of significant achievement. It can be the final accomplishment of your undergraduate degree, or the preparation that allows you to go on to enrol in a postgraduate research degree. Either way, it is a year that requires rigour, commitment, enthusiasm, and stamina. It involves seminars that focus on the concepts and methods that underpin the critical study of religions and focused case studies, along with large research project.

It is a highly rewarding year, and many of our graduates report that it was the year that ‘made everything click’. They also report that an Honours year in Studies in Religion was the completion of their preparation for a workforce that demands flexibility and the ability to operate independently under pressure. There should be no mistake; Honours with Studies in Religion is hard, in fact we think it is the most rigorous undergraduate program in religious studies in the world, but it will also leave you prepared for any research or project challenge.

From 2014, the Honours in World Religions will also be on offer.

An honours degree is available to students who undertake an extra year of research based study. Eligibility and application details are available here.

For further information, please contact the Honours Coordinator.