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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Theory and Method in the Study of Religion (REST11012)

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 core course explores key theoretical and methodological issues in the study of religion by reviewing of some of the foundational figures associated with the development of Religious Studies as a discipline, critically examining the relationships between phenomenology, history, philosophy, theology, cultural studies and the social sciences, analysing the significance of the new cognitive science of religion and engaging with pressing issues in the study of religion, such as the insider-outsider problem and the socially engaged scholar of religion.
Course description Academic Description:
This is a postgraduate core course dealing with theoretical issues and methodological approaches relevant to the academic study of religion. It provides an overview of various ways of studying religion, reviews the history of the development of comparative religion, introduces students to recent developments in the study of religion and raises issues that confront scholars of religion. In order to achieve this, the course combines strong theoretical and practical discussion ranging from the historical formation of the discipline, key dates in religious studies, alongside more thematic approaches such as text-historical, narrative studies, anthropological, and cultural. These debates will be carefully considered both in the lectures and the seminar discussions based on readings that are both empirically rich and theoretically innovative.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
The complexity and richness of the course will be illustrated through thematic considerations such as the importance of religious studies both in its historical and contemporary context. It will start by offering a more historical focus on the formation of the discipline, using key texts and thinkers in the field. It will then offer a nuanced approach to some of the ways religious studies have developed ranging from text-historical, and narrative methods, sociological and anthropological ideas of focusing on human societies that examine the role of materiality, economy, and politics, cultural and historical methods that emphasise the centrality of cultural history and memory, to more recent debates on the cognitive science of religion.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The course has a programme of two-hour weekly meetings consisting of one-hour weekly lectures, and one-hour seminar discussions. The meetings will be interactive and will allow students to engage with the topic through lecture and seminar discussion. Through their participation in lectures, seminars, written work, final essays, and feedback offered, students will demonstrate their achievement of the intended learning outcomes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis is a graduate-level course. Please confirm subject prerequisites with the Course Manager.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  10
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 70% - Essay (3000 words)

10% - Oral presentation

20% - Seminar blogs
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Identify the contexts out of which the academic study of religion emerged.
  2. Articulate key components within a variety of methodologies in the study of religion and offer critiques of each.
  3. Clarify if and, if so, how the study of religion constitutes a discipline in its own right.
  4. Evaluate recent developments in the academic study of religion.
  5. Critically analyse principal problems in the study of religion and relate these to other problems in the human and social sciences.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Alysa Ghose
Course secretaryMiss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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