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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Religious Studies

Undergraduate Course: Theories of Religion (REST10041)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryWhat exactly is 'religion'? Are we talking about the same 'thing' in our cross-cultural and comparative studies? This course approaches this key question through close readings of selected theories of religion by living scholars, which restore fully worked out theories of religion at the heart of Religious Studies. We examine each theory in detail and we compare and contrast their presuppositions and conclusions. We also road-test our theories on selected case studies. The aim of the course is to prepare students to identify and defend their preferred theory of religion and to put it into practice.
Course description Academic Description:
This course engages in close reading of selected recent theories of 'religion'. It aims to instill confidence and skill in handling and applying these theories. The overall aim is to compare and assess theories with sometimes very different intellectual approaches and contrasting premises. By the end of the course students should be able to identify and defend their own preferred theoretical approach to explaining 'religion'.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
We begin with the complex debate about the modern category of religion. We then work through a series of theories, which we 'road-test' on case studies. Students are required to identify and to defend their preferred theory of religion in the light of the theories surveyed. The theories are examined in the light of broader paradigms of enquiry in the humanities, social science, and natural science.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The course consists in a two hour combined lecture/seminar in which typically the first hour consists in exposition by the course teacher(s) and the second hour in seminar work by students on prepared readings. Students are required to submit 4 written commentaries, one on each theorist, which will be given a regular mark and feedback by the CM. Assessment is in-course only and consists of an oral presentation and two longer essays on top of the commentaries. This form of assessment feeds the whole course learning outcome: that by the end of the course students will have come to identify and defend their own preferred theory of religion based on those examined, through a cumulative process of oral discussion and written enquiry.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Divinity/Religious Studies courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 170 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment will be based entirely on in-course work in order to develop critical reasoning based on primary source analysis:
Oral presentation = 10%
4 x written commentaries (one on the main text of each of the four theorists covered, submitted in the appropriate weeks, @ 200 words = 800 words) = 20%
Essay 1 (1,500 words) = 25%
Essay 2 (3,000) = 45%
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate understanding of different kinds of definition of religion
  2. Critically assess a selection of modern full theories of religion
  3. Explore simple application of theories to empirical examples of beliefs and practices
  4. Identify and defend their own preferred theory of religion
Reading List
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserMr David Robertson
Course secretaryMs Katrina Munro
Tel: (0131 6)50 8900
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