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

Traditionally referred to as the ‘big five’ world religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism continue to be practised by large portions of the global population. As these religions have thrived in diverse cultural settings, and through different historical periods, the World Religions major offers the unique opportunity to choose two religious traditions to study in great depth. Whether you select (for example) Islam and Buddhism or Christianity and Judaism, this major will immerse you in the rich history of these globalised traditions, while providing you with a strong methodological grounding through which to interpret them.

As the five religions that are grouped into the ‘world religions’ category are classified in opposition to ‘indigenous’ religion, it will also be possible to study some of the many religions that have been labeled ‘indigenous’ as one of your two focal areas. As you develop your methodological skills, you will be encouraged to reconsider the function of the terms ‘world religion’ and ‘indigenous religion’ and to assess the impact of such categorisations.

The close study of two religious traditions combined with the methodological components of this major will balance specialisation with analytical skills that can be applied to the study of other religious phenomena.

Pathways through the major

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

The units of study for the major can be found in the unit of study table for World Religions.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

You complete 12 junior credit points taken from RLST1002 A History of God, Deities and Demons and RLST1005 Atheism, Fundamentalism & New Religions. 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 together with a second core unit on theory and methodology (sociology or philosophy of religion, for example).

You also specialise in two world religions of your choice, by selecting two units of study each from two of the religious areas listed below:

  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Judaism and Bible
  • Indigenous Religions and Local Traditions.

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

Suggested pathways through the World Religions major

These sample pathways are examples only. It is possible to combine units to complete a major in World Religions in a variety of ways. Please discuss your options with the Program Director.

For a pathway combining Judaism and Bible and Christianity, you complete the two RLST junior units listed above (with the option of also taking two Jewish Civilisation, Thought And Culture Junior units), the compulsory unit WREL2001, one other core unit on theory and methodology, and four units chosen from the various Christianity and Judaism and Bible units offered during your years of study. It is mandatory that one of these units (whether from the core, Christianity or Judaism lists) is at 3000 level.

For a pathway combining Buddhism and Islam, you complete the two RLST Junior units listed above (with the option of also taking Junior units on Buddhism and Arabic and Islamic Studies), the compulsory unit WREL2001, one other core unit on theory and methodology, and four units chosen from the various Buddhism and Islam units offered during your years of study. It is mandatory that one of these units (whether from the core, Islam or Buddhism lists) is at 3000 level.

For a pathway combining Islam and, Indigenous Religions and Local Traditions, you complete the two RLST Junior units listed above (with the option of also taking Junior units on Arabic and Islamic Studies), the compulsory unit WREL2001, one other core unit on theory and methodology, and four units chosen from the various Islam and Indigenous Religions units offered during your years of study. It is mandatory that one of these units (whether from the core, Islam or Indigenous Religions lists) must be at 3000 level.

Honours

Honours entry requires an average of 70percent or above across 48 senior credit points (eight senior units of study) in World Religions, with at least 6 credit points (one unit of study) at 3000 level. It is recommended that students intending to undertake Honours complete two senior units of study of a relevant language. Please discuss this with the Program Director.

Contact/further information

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

Associate Professor Jay Johnston
Phone: +61 2 9351 6840
Email: