Studies in Religion


In Studies in Religion we train you to analyse the concepts that people and communities privilege in their lives to explain their existence. This analysis includes religions, philosophies, life-justifications, and popular mythologies. To do this we introduce you to a range of methodologies including sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, philosophy, and history. Together we shall study the profound aspects of the essence of what it means to be human. We will examine how dramatic narrative structures and pwerful inner experiences propel the individual and social constructions of reality.

The Studies in Religion Major allows you to investigate the ways in which humans have ascribed value to their lives, societies, and other important ideals from family to nation, individuality, and the afterlife. You will get to examine how these constructions have been formalised into communal essences and powerful institutions throughout history. You will also develop a deep critical awareness of the skills used in the academy to assess the vast narrative, ethical, legal, and institutional structures we use to keep our societies functioning and which we call sacred.

In our Major you will have a fantastic opportunity to develop your own scholarly interpretations of the contested phenomena of religious experience and practice.

Study plan

A major in Studies in Religion requires at least 36 senior credit points, including at least 6 credit points from 3000 level.

Junior units of study (1000 level)
You complete 12 junior credit points taken from RLST1002 and RLST1005. These junior units introduce you to foundational knowledge and to current debates in the discipline.
Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

Senior units of study include senior-intermediate (2000 level) units and senior-advanced (3000 level) units. You must complete at least 6 credit points at 3000 level and entry into these units requires completion of 12 credit points at 2000 level.

Suggested pathways through the Studies in Religion major

There are three significant pathways through the Studies in Religion major.

The first pathway 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.

RLST1002 History of God, Deities and Demons
RLST1005 Atheism, Fundamentalism & New Religions
RLST2630 Taoism: Potency and Immortality
RLST 2624 The Birth of Christianity
RLST2612 Ancient Gnosticism
RLST2631 Celtic and Germanic Mythology
RLST2611 Monotheism: Judaism and Islam
RLST2605 Christianity and the Medieval World
RLST2603 Classical Hinduism
RLST3602 Global Christianity

The second pathway 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.

RLST1002 History of God: Deities and Demons
RLST1005 Atheism, Fundamentalism & New Religions
RLST2620 Religion and Violence: Faith and Blood
RLST2625 Creativity, Spirituality and the Arts
RLST2628 Religion and Film
RLST2635 Religion and Television
RLST2626 Witchcraft, Paganism and the New Age
RLST2635 Sex, Desire and the Sacred
RLST3603 Contemporary Australian Religion

The third pathway directs students to 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.

RLST1002 History of God, Deities and Demons
RLST1005 Atheism, Fundamentalism & New Religions
RLST2613 Philosophy of Religion: East and West
RLST2614 Philosophy of Religion: Reason and Belief
RLST 2629 Confucian Spirituality
RLST 2617 Australian Aboriginal Religion
RLST2636 Ancient Egyptian Religion and Magic
SCLG2626 Sociology of Religion
RLST3601 Rethinking Religion

The different emphases of the three pathways do not diminish the range of skills (both generic and discipline-specific) offered to you.

These pathways are not compulsory, you can still complete a Studies in Religion major by choosing units from across the three pathways.

Graduate opportunities

Sydney Arts and Social Sciences graduates work in government departments at all levels, and major private sector consultancies and corporations, locally and overseas. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences offers a range of subject areas that prepare graduates for careers in administration, education, business research, marketing, media, management consultancy, public relations, gallery and museum curatorship, hospitality and tourism, community and welfare. Our graduates are proficient in research and inquiry, and demonstrate personal and intellectual autonomy, and ethical, social and professional understanding, qualities sought after by leading employers all over the world.

Further study for major

Eligible candidates may proceed to an Honours year in the Bachelor of Arts, or apply for admission to a rich postgraduate program in the humanities and social sciences, comprising advanced learning and professional courses. Master degrees include capstone projects ranging from internships with government and non-government organisations in Australia and overseas, the gallery and museum sector, and leading media organisations, to opportunities for independent research projects which prepare students for higher degrees by research.

Related subject areas

Biblical Studies, Jewish Civilisation, Thought and Culture, Arab Worlds, Islam and the Middle East, World Religions

Our courses that offer this major