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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Religions in Africa (DIVI11038)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis level 11 course examines the variety of religious expressions found on the African continent and in communities with African heritage across the globe. It studies the diversity of traditions and of innovations through comparisons between indigenous religions, Christianities and forms of Islam. 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:
To enable students to comprehend African religious diversity and draw wide-ranging comparative conclusions 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.

The course takes a thematic approach to its subject demonstrating the variety of approaches to healing, gender, and so on. It uses ethnographic case-studies to explore similar themes which intersect religion and public life and examines the diversity of lived approaches across different religious traditions, in different parts of Africa and the world.

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.

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 a long essay and a choice of seminar presentation or fieldwork/interview assessment. The two assessed elements will be on a particular aspect of the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking African Religious Diversity (REST11027)
Other requirements Students who have previously taken the following course MUST NOT enroll: African Religious Diversity (REST11027)
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 sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the diversity of religions in Africa and its diaspora.
  2. Build-upon prior knowledge of the scholarship that presently influences the fields of Religious Studies, African Religions and World Christianity.
  3. Gain advance skills in applying knowledge gained from the course to interpret a broad range of religious and social phenomena particularly pertinent to religions of Africa.
  4. Assess critically and in detail the evidence offered by a variety of primary materials, demonstrating awareness of the challenges of collecting and analysing social scientific and historical sources.
  5. Form complex, reasoned arguments - in oral and written work - making detailed 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 enhance their 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/Assignment).
- Research and Enquiry: Students will develop their analytical and critical thinking to research and compose essay and assignments or presentations. They will identify and evaluate key information and use sophisticated reasoning in their conclusions. (Essay, Presentation/Assignment).
- (Verbal) Communication: Students will improve their oral presentation and communication skills in seminars and with the public (for those taking the assignment option). They will articulate complex ideas and arguments in a coherent manner and discuss courteously the ideas of their peers. (Presentations/assignments)
- (Written) Communication: Students will develop the ability to explain information effectively and to create coherent arguments from complex ideas. (Essay and Presentation/Assignment)
Course organiserDr Emma Wild-Wood
Tel: (0131 6)50 8977
Course secretaryMiss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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