Studies in Religion

The department of Studies in Religion is part of the School of Letters, Art and Media.

About the major

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.

Pathways through the major

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

The units of study for the major can be found in the unit of study table for Studies in Religion. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

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.

Honours

Honours is a stimulating and prestigious way to cap off your undergraduate studies, and involves a methodology seminar and the writing of a thesis in which you personally devise and research a project under the supervision of an academic staff member.

It is possible to do Honours in Studies in Religion if you complete a further 12 senior credit points (including RLST3601 Rethinking Religion) and your average result across the 48 senior credit points of Religion is a Credit average or better (65+).

Refer to the degree resolutions in this Handbook and to the Faculty Admissions Policy for Honours: sydney.edu.au/handbooks/arts/rules/faculty_resolutions.shtml

Please note: from 2015 the minimum requirement for entry into Honours will increase to an average of 70% or above across 48 senior credit points in the intended subject area/s.

Contact/Further Information

Department website: sydney.edu.au/arts/religion/

Undergraduate Coordinator: Professor Iain Gardner
Phone: +61 2 9351 4484
Email:

Honours Coordinator: Dr Jay Johnston
Phone: +61 2 9351 6840
Email: