This unit will introduce a sequence of scientific attempts to explain the phenomenon of religion. Using a comparative approach, this unit will address the different aspects of religious phenomena. This unit will also introduce students to the history, teachings and practices of the major world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and regional native traditions. In its conclusion, this unit will address the issue of religious fundamentalism and New Age Movements.

Unit code: AR8109A (Approved)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Religious Studies

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Explain the main theories related to the origin and nature of religion


Demonstrate knowledge of the history and teachings of the major world religions


Compare different religious teachings


Analyse the relationship between religion, politics and conflict/violence


Lectures, classroom discussion, guided reading from set texts, additional reading resources and notes

Indicative Bibliography

  • Kessler, Gary E.Studying Religion: an Introduction Through Cases, 3rd ed. New York : McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2008. (recommended for purchase)
  • Ridgeon, Lloyd, ed. Major World Religions: From Their Origins to The Present. Routledge, 2003. (recommended for purchase)
  • Eliade, Mircea. A History of Religious Ideas, Vol. 1-3. University of Chicago Press, 1978, 1984, 1988.
  • Eliade, Mircea. The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987.
  • House, Wayne H. Charts of World Religions. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.
  • Kinnard, Jacob N. The Emergence of Buddhism: Classical Traditions in Contemporary Perspective. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011.
  • Pals, Daniel L. Seven Theories of Religion. Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Reynolds, Gabriel Said. The Emergence of Islam: Classical Traditions in Contemporary Perspective. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012.
  • Sarma, Deepak, ed. Hinduism A Reader. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008.
  • Smith, Wilfred Cantwell. The Meaning and End of Religion. Fortress Press, 1991.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Written Assessment task – Essay 3000 words

3000 50.0

Written Assessment Task – Essay 1500 words

1500 25.0

Written Assessment Task - Exercises 1500 words

1500 25.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 30 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2019-10-22 15:28:39 +1100