Study of Religions
This course explores a wide range of religious traditions, from Buddhism to Christianity to Paganism, with a focus on living traditions. The approach taken is open and exploratory, with an emphasis on direct first-hand experience of religious communities
Study of Religions is offered as a Major, Joint or Minor component of a Combined degree. If you want to combine it with Philosophy and Ethics you should take the Religions, Philosophies and Ethics specialised award.
Why study Study of Religions?
The religious traditions studied are diverse, including major traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam or Christianity, and the less well known such as newer religious movements. Included in the programme are contemporary developments such as Paganism and Goddess spirituality. We range from the local, such as religions in Bath and Glastonbury, to the global, such as Japanese Religions. Crucial to the study of religions is direct encounter and experiential learning, and the course includes visits and a one-week placement in a religious community. There are opportunities to follow up your own interests or career plans in a variety of special projects, employment related placements and a dissertation.
Ratio of applications to places
No. of places (2011): Variable number as part of a Combined Award
National student survey results
Overall student Satisfaction with teaching for courses in this subject area (2011): 93%
In Year 1 we offer a core module which explores the meaning of religion and spirituality, examines a variety of methods of studying religions and spiritualities, and illustrates these from a variety of contemporary traditions, from Druidry to the Bahá’í faith. There is also a field visit to Glastonbury. An optional module in global religions and philosophies looks at major traditions and movements, and key thinkers.
The core module in Year 2 focuses on philosophies and religious or non-religious world views in Indian and Chinese traditions. Optional modules include ethics within religious and humanist traditions (on topics such as medical ethics, and social justice); philosophy, religions and the environment; and in depth study of major religious traditions including Global Christianity, life and liberation in the Hindu tradition, saints and soldiers in Sikhism, and the history and teachings of Buddhism.
There is also a Special Project in which you can explore topics of your choice, engage in a placement or project relevant to employment, or take part in a summer school in another country such as Korea.
In the third year, as part of a core module on religion in the contemporary world, you will undertake a fieldwork placement with a religious community such as a Buddhist monastery, a Christian convent, the Hare Krishnas or the Salvation Army. For further details see our website www.livingreligion.co.uk. Optional modules include religion, philosophy and gender; advanced study of pagan, new and alternative religions; and modules studying the Bhagavad Gita, the Muslim world, culture and counter-culture, religion and education internationally, Buddhism, and religion, culture and society in Japan. There is also a special Research Project (current students have been helping run a conference for year 12 students or to digitise an archive on contemporary religions), a Dissertation which allows for in-depth concentration on a topic of your choice, or an employment related project.
NOTE: You will need to study another subject to study with Study of Religions.
Beyond Belief: Introduction to the Study of Religions and Spiritualities (core module);
- Truth and Value: Introduction to Philosophical and Ethical Enquiry (core module);
- Global Religions and Philosophies;
- Philosophy and Thinking in Schools;
- Heritage and Applied History;
- The Business of Heritage;
- Medieval and Renaissance Worlds.
Darshana, Dharma and Dao: Philosophy in the Indian and Chinese Traditions (core module);
- Exploring Global Christianity;
- Power, Duty and Desire: Life and Liberation in the Hindu Tradition;
- Ethics, Religion and Humanism: Contemporary Moral Dilemmas;
- Religion and Heritage;
- Film and Philosophy;
- Special Project;
- Buddhism: Historical and Doctrinal Developments;
- Saints and Soldiers: Mysticism, Militancy and Modernity in the Sikh Tradition;
- Philosophy, Religions and the Environment.
- Studying Religions in the Contemporary World (core module);
- Employment related placement (alternative to Dissertation);
- Buddhism in Practice;
- Religion, Philosophy and Gender;
- Life and Meaning;
- Advanced Special Project;
- The Song of the Lord: Hinduism, Religion, Scripture and the Bhagavad-Gita;
- Spiritual Revolution: Pagan, New and Alternative Religions in the 21st Century;
- Religion, Culture and Society in Japan;
- The Muslim World
- Without Fear or Favour: National and International Perspectives on Religion, Culture and Education;
- Culture and Counterculture: from Orientalism to the ‘Hippy Trail’.
Assessment is mainly by coursework such as essays, reports, projects, presentations, on-line discussion board participation, or even the production of a short film, and there are also some timed elements such as critical analyses or examinations.
We offer excellent teaching with attention to individuals, and staff are active in research and scholarship in their specialist areas. We welcome non-traditional entrants and mature students.
Full time applications are through UCAS
International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.
260–300 UCAS Tariff points.
A popular career for our students is teaching Religious Education and/or Citizenship in secondary or primary schools, where there is a shortage of specialists. The combination of studying religions and philosophy is particularly good preparation for this, and one module is specially designed as preparation for a career in education. Others have gone on to further academic study and university teaching.
It is increasingly important for people in a wide range of careers to be able to mix with people from different religious and cultural backgrounds, for example past students have had careers in the police, hospital administration, social work, and journalism. Study of Religions comes in useful when working overseas whether in tourism or other businesses.
Since 2010, employers such as Global Xchange. Ethicall, Citizens' Advice Bureau and Birmingham University have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Healthcare Assistant, Fundraiser, Children's Home Activities Coordinator and Assistant to the Communications Director.
What students say...
Student Profile: Alex Hyde, Year 3 Study of Religions
I chose my course because I have always been interested in the world and in people. I am fascinated by the thoughts, needs, beliefs and knowledge of others who have been brought up outside of Christianity.
I really like the structure of the course because the first year enables you to study in breadth and then in the second year focus more deeply on some of the religions studied in the first year. I was enthralled by the prospect of going on a placement for a week in a religious community as part of the course in second year. I am soon to find out whether I will be going to live with The Community of the Many Names of God or the Hare Krishnas.
The Department has a friendly ethos, with lecturers who are genuinely willing their students to do well and continually supporting them along the way. It is with thanks to this course that my understanding of people in the world is ever expanding and even when the pressure is on with assignments due, I continue to brim with enthusiasm for the knowledge I gain.