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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Undergraduate Course: Religions in Africa (DIVI10040)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis level 10 course studies religious diversity from the perspective of the African continent and in communities with African heritage across the globe. Through comparisons between indigenous religions, Christianity and Islam the course examines both religious traditions and innovations. It analyses the connection between religion, society and politics. It also explores the coexistence, conflict and imbrication of these various traditions and asks how interaction between distinct religious beliefs and practices is understood by religious practitioners to enrich and/or diminish those traditions.
Course description Academic Description:
The course explores: 1) Current themes and historical background to the study of religion in Africa and its diaspora; 2) In-depth case studies from Africa and its diaspora which enable students to draw wide-ranging comparative conclusions.

The course balances cultural interests in the internal working of religions with their social impact on the societies in which they operate. The contemporary social science focus of the lectures is supported by a robust historical understanding of religions in Africa and their study. The course takes a thematic approach to its subject. It uses ethnographic case-studies to explore similar themes which intersect religion and public life and which recur across different religious traditions, in different parts of Africa and the world.

Syllabus Outline/Content:
In the first weeks of this course the subject will be introduced through discussing ideas of religion, Africa, indigeneity, syncretism and global movements. This will include historical background on the study of Religions in Africa and Diaspora. The following weeks will examine a number of themes which intersect religion and public life and which recur across different religious traditions: healing and wholeness, communication and media, gender and sexuality, transnationalism and diaspora, violence, spiritual and political power.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The students will study a selection of textual and visual primary and secondary sources on a relevant topic each week. During the class there will be discussion of the sources and opportunities to raise further questions as well as a more formal lecture to introduce the topic and its sources. Assessment will be through 500 words on a seminar topic/reading, an essay and an exam. The seminar topic/reading and essay will be on a particular aspect of the course. The exam will cover material from the entire course. The last class will allow students the opportunity to ask questions about relevant material.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Religions in Africa (REST10056)
Other requirements Students who have previously taken the following course MUST NOT enroll: Religions in Africa (REST10056)
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of Religions in Africa and its diaspora.
  2. Develop familiarity with scholarship that presently influences the fields of Religious Studies, African Religions and World Christianity.
  3. Apply knowledge gained from the course to interpret a broad range of religious and social phenomena particularly pertinent to religions of Africa.
  4. Critically assess the evidence offered by primary materials, demonstrating awareness of the challenges of collecting and analysing social scientific and historical sources.
  5. Form reasoned arguments (in oral and written work) making use of specific data and theoretical literature.
Reading List
An excellent introduction to the subjects covered in this course is:
Laura Grillo L, Hassan Ndzovu, & Adriaan van Klinken. Religions in Contemporary Africa: An Introduction. (Routledge, 2019).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Personal and Intellectual Autonomy: Students will develop greater religious and social literacy. They will apply their knowledge to interpret new phenomena. They will learn to be self-reflective in responses both in written and oral communication. (Essay, Presentation, and Exam).
- Research and Enquiry: Students will use analytical and critical thinking to research and compose assignments, presentations and exam answers. They will identify and evaluate key information and use clear reasoning in their conclusions. (Essay, Presentation, and Exam).
- (Verbal) Communication: Students will develop oral presentation and communication skills in seminars. They will learn to articulate complex ideas and arguments in a coherent manner and to discuss courteously the ideas of their peers. (Presentations).
- (Written) Communication: Students will develop the ability to explain information effectively and to create coherent arguments from complex ideas. (Essay and Exam).
Course organiserDr Emma Wild-Wood
Tel: (0131 6)50 8977
Course secretaryMiss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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