World Religions

World Religions is a Faculty-wide program coordinated by a Program Director located in the department of Studies in Religion, which is a part of the School of Letters, Art and Media (SLAM).

About the major

World Religions is the study of the history and ideas that characterise those religions that are global, or in some sense present across vast historically and geographically diverse cultures. Traditionally, these religions are said to be the three Semitic monotheisms, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and two religions originating in India, Hinduism and Buddhism. These religions share certain characteristics: written sacred texts, formal institutional structures, specialist religious functionaries (for example, priests and teachers, monks and nuns), and a belief that others should convert to the religion, or at least accept it as superior to other religions.

Units of study in World Religions cover both history and the contemporary world. You will have an opportunity to specialise in two World Religions, or to contrast a World Religion with Indigenous Religions (small, local traditions that are contrasted with World Religions, being orally transmitted, non-proselytising, and pluralist).

Pathways through the major

A major in World Religions requires 36 senior credit points including WREL2001 World Religions in Context, 6 credit points from core units of study and 12 credit points each from two religious traditions. At least 6 credit points must be at 3000 level.

The units of study for the major can be found in the unit of study table for World Religions. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year.

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)

You complete the compulsory unit WREL2001 World Religions in Context, which is paired with another core unit (in sociology or philosophy of religion, for example).

You also specialise in two World Religions, by choosing two units of study from two religious areas listed below:

  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Indigenous Religions

To complete a major at least one of these units must be a senior-advanced (3000 level) unit.

Suggested pathways through the World Religions major

These sample pathways are recommendations only. It is possible to combine units to complete a major in World Religions in a variety of ways.

For a pathway combining Judaism and Bible and Christianity, you complete two RLST junior units (with the option of also taking the two JCTC junior units), the compulsory unit WREL2001, one core unit and four units chosen from the ten Christianity and Judaism and Bible units listed below. It is mandatory that one of these units (from either Core, Christianity, or Judaism and Bible) must be at 3000 level.

  • RLST1002 History of God, Deities and Demons
  • RLST1005 Atheism, Fundamentalism & New Religions
  • WREL2001 World Religions in Context (and another Methodology unit)
  • RLST2624 The Birth of Christianity
  • RLST2612 Ancient Gnosticism
  • JCTC2603 Jews Under the Crescent and the Cross
  • JCTC2604 From Expulsion to Regeneration
  • RLST2605 Christianity and the Medieval World
  • RLST3602 Christianity as A Global Religion
  • BBCL2603 Messianism in Biblical Prophetic Texts
  • BBCL3606 Apocalyptic in the Bible and Beyond
  • BBCL2607 Biblical Poetic Books
  • BBCL2609 From Historical Jesus to Written Gospels
  • BBCL3608 Biblical Wisdom Literature

For a pathway combining Buddhism and Islam, you complete two RLST Junior units (with the option of also taking the two ARIS Junior units), the compulsory unit WREL2001, one core unit and four units chosen from the eight Buddhism and Islam units listed below. It is mandatory that one of these units (from either Core, Islam or Buddhism) must be at 3000 level.

  • RLST1002 History of God, Deities and Demons
  • RLST1005 Atheism, Fundamentalism & New Religions
  • WREL2001 World Religions in Context (and another Methodology unit)
  • ARIS2673 Islam and Muslims in World History
  • ARIS2674 Islam and Politics: Modernity Challenges
  • ARIS2675 Gendering History in the Arab World
  • ARIS3676 Issues and Debates in Arabic Culture Today
  • ARIS3675 Society and Politics in the Middle East
  • BDST3611 Buddhist Philosophical Traditions
  • BDST2612 Buddhist Meditation Practices
  • BDST2615 Buddhism and Contemporary Issues
  • BDST2616 The Buddha’s Words

For a pathway combining Islam and Indigenous Religions, you complete two RLST Junior units (with the option of also taking the two ARIS Junior units), the compulsory unit WREL2001, one core unit four units chosen from the eight Islam and Indigenous Religions units listed below. It is mandatory that one of these units (from either Core, Islam or Indigenous Religions) must be at 3000 level.

  • RLST1002 History of God, Deities and Demons
  • RLST1005 Atheism, Fundamentalism & New Religions
  • WREL2001 World Religions in Context (and another Methodology unit)
  • ARIS2673 Islam and Muslims in World History
  • ARIS2674 Islam and Politics: Modernity Challenges
  • ARIS2675 Gendering History in the Arab World
  • ARIS3675 Society and Politics in the Middle East
  • ARIS3676 Issues and Debates in Arabic Culture Today
  • RLST2638 Indigenous Religions
  • RLST2631 Celtic and Germanic Mythology
  • RLST2636 Ancient Egyptian Religion and Magic
  • ANHS2605 Ancient Greek Religion
Honours

For Honours entry, a total of 48 senior credit points (8 senior units of study) is required from the World Religions table of units of study, with at least 6 credit points (1 unit of study) at 3000 level.. It is recommended that students intending to undertake Honours complete two senior units of a relevant language.

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

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