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Last modified: 28 Jun 2018 10:27

Course Overview

This course helps students to understand critically the phenomenon of religion. There are two main aims. Firstly, four contrasting approaches to religion that have been influential in anthropology and beyond will be introduced. These include religion as a social phenomenon, religion as a cultural phenomenon, Marxist perspectives on religion, and religion as embodied experience. Secondly, students themselves will engage with the question of what religion is, compare and contrast different answers to this question, and develop their own, informed, understanding.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 2
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Johan Rasanayagam

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?


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What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course discusses contrasting theoretical perspectives anthropologists have employed in the study of religion and provides students with the conceptual tools to critically interrogate the topic. To what extent is religion a social or a cultural phenomenon? How might we understand the notion of belief? How might we understand emotion or experience in the context of religion? The course will also question the usefulness of 'religion' itself as an analytical category.

Further Information & Notes

Available to students in Programme Year 2 and above.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

In light of Covid-19 and the move to blended learning delivery the assessment information advertised for courses may be subject to change. All updates for first-half session courses will be actioned no later than 1700 (GMT) on 18 September 2020. All updates for second half-session courses will be actioned in advance of second half-session teaching starting. Please check back regularly for updates.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: 1 two-hour examination (50%), continuous assessment (50%). Resit: 1 two-hour examination (100%).

Formative Assessment

Tutorials, Presentations in tutorials Meetings with the course coordinator and/or tutor in case of need, initiated by the student or coordinator/tutor.


Written feedback will be provided for continuous assessment work. This will normally be provided within three weeks of the submission date. Oral feedback on class presentations will also be provided where appropriate.

Course Learning Outcomes


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