Office of the Registrar
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (2017/2018)
14.27 Religious Studies

In accordance with Senate's Policy Regarding Inactive Courses, the course descriptions for courses which have not been offered in the previous three academic years and which are not scheduled to be offered in the current academic year have been removed from the following listing. For information about any of these inactive courses, please contact the Head of the Department.

Religious Studies courses are designated by RELS.


The Religions of the World

is an introduction to the beliefs and practices of the world's religions.

CR: the former RELS 2010


Critical Reading and Writing: Religion and Violence

examines the relationship between religion(s) and violence from Religious Studies perspectives. Students learn the principles of scholarly analysis appropriate to the study of religious phenomena, the elements of academic assessment, and the mechanics of academic writing. Emphasis is placed on critical reading and writing, analyzing texts, evaluating sources, framing questions, organizing paragraphs, developing effective arguments, and refining presentation of written work. All sections of this course follow Critical Reading and Writing Course Guidelines available at


Religion in the Modern World

is an introduction to some of the major issues confronting religion in the modern world. The focus will be on such topics as globalization and religion, religious faith and violence, freedom and authority.


Apocalypse: The End Times in Thought, Action, and Imagination

will explore the many ways in which Judaism and Christianity have anticipated and imagined the end times. Attention will be given to Jewish and early Christian notions of the Messiah and his reign, the end of the world, and the impending judgment, as well as how Christianity has coped repeatedly with the delay of the end and how millennial thought and action have affected people during periods of social and natural crises. The role of millennial expectations in our modern era and why the apocalypse is once again a powerful image in religion, film, and literature will also be covered.


Jesus at the Movies

examines how Jesus has been dramatized in film, investigating the reception of select Jesus films and cinematic Christ figures in academic, religious, and popular cultures, and reflecting on the sources and intentions informing the filmmaker's work.


Introduction to Chinese (Mandarin) I

will introduce students to the basics of Chinese vocabulary, characters, and grammar. Mandarin Chinese, the official dialect of China, Taiwan, and Singapore, will be taught. This course is not intended for native speakers. All sections of this course follow the Language Study Course Guidelines available at

CR: the former RELS 4904


Introduction to Chinese (Mandarin) II

is a continuation of RELS 1040. At the end of this course students should know over a hundred Chinese characters, which should enable them to read basic texts and carry on a simple conversation. This course is not intended for native speakers. All sections of this course follow the Language Study Course Guidelines available at

CR: the former RELS 4911

PR: RELS 1040


Introduction to Biblical Hebrew I

is designed to introduce students to the elements of Biblical Hebrew in order to prepare them for reading the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in the original. The emphasis will be upon learning the basic grammar and syntax of Biblical Hebrew. All sections of this course follow the Language Study Course Guidelines available at

CR: the former RELS 3700, the former RELS 4900


Introduction to Biblical Hebrew II

is a continuation of RELS 1050. The emphasis will be upon the reading of selected Hebrew texts. All sections of this course follow the Language Study Course Guidelines available at

CR: the former RELS 3701, the former RELS 4901

PR: RELS 1050


Sanskrit Language Study I

is an introduction to the Sanskrit language, to the (Devanagari) alphabet, basic grammar and foundational vocabulary with a focus on developing skills needed to read and translate Sanskrit texts. All sections of this course follow the Language Study Course Guidelines available at

CR: RELS 4905


Sanskrit Language Study II

is a continuation of Sanskrit Language Study I. On completion of this course, students will have the ability to consult Sanskrit texts for research purposes. All sections of this course follow the Language Study Course Guidelines available at

CR: RELS 4906


The Old Testament

is an introduction to the historical background, literary structure, and content of the Old Testament. Emphasis will be placed on the authorship and dating of the various texts that comprise the Old Testament, as well as on major themes, figures, and events.


The New Testament

is an introduction to the history and literary structure of the documents comprising the New Testament. Emphasis will be placed on the major themes found in these documents and on the distinctiveness of approach of the individual writers.


Early Christianity

explores the history of Christian thought and culture from the era of Jesus to the end of the first millennium. Topics will include the development of key theological ideas, changes to art, architecture, and ritual, the relations between church and state, tensions between Christian and pagan culture, and the growth and spread of Christianity in Western Europe.


Christianity and Modernity

takes a historical and interdisciplinary approach in examining the dynamic tensions between Christianity and modern cultural domains such as politics, the arts, and science. We will also consider Christianity as a secularizing force in the modern world, and the place and future of Christianity in what some theorists term post-secular society.


Jerusalem and the Politics of Sacred Space

takes a social-constructivist approach in examining how narrative, ritual, and architecture are deployed in making a place sacred. The focus is on the city of Jerusalem, its place In the history and symbolism of three religious traditions (Judaism. Christianity and Islam), and the potential tensions and conflicts involved in processes of creating sacred geographies.



is an introduction to central beliefs and practices of the Jewish faith, from its beginnings to the modern era.



examines the tradition in its historical and contemporary manifestations; Muhammad, the Qur'an, Islamic sects, relations with Judaism and Christianity; trends and developments in contemporary Islamic thought and practice.

CR: the former RELS 3340


Religious Institutions

(same as Anthropology 2350) is a contextual study of religious institutions and beliefs, calendrical feasts and solemnities, religious roles and hierarchies, ritual innovation and revitalization.

CR: Anthropology 2350, the former Sociology/Anthropology 2350, the former Sociology 2350



examines the history of Buddhist traditions in Asia, with consideration of the major developments in Buddhist philosophy, institutions, and practices.

CR: the former RELS 3400



examines the history of Hindu religious traditions, their major religious texts, institutions, and practices, and their role in social, political, and cultural movements in India and in Hindu diaspora communities.

CR: the former RELS 3410


Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism

is focused on myth, iconography and ritual of Hindu gods and goddesses from the ancient to the contemporary period. The course will explore fundamental assumptions of Hindu theistic traditions in popular practice and in formal religious institutions.


Chinese Philosophy and Religion

examines philosophical and religious responses to social and political crises in ancient China. Finding ways to answer the crises of prolonged warfare, high unemployment. a vast divide between rich and poor gave rise to the schools of Confucianism, Daoism, Legalism, and others. This introductory course examines the various schools' answers to these crises and how they connect to today.


Contemporary Issues in Chinese Religion and Culture

is an examination of religion in modern China and the Chinese diaspora in Taiwan, Singapore, and North America. Special attention will be paid to religious beliefs, practices, and institutions and the way in which modern attitudes have been framed by the past.

CR: the former RELS 3425


Japanese Religions

is an introduction to the origin, teachings. and development of Shinto, along with the development of Buddhism in Japan. The course also examines the emergence of the "new religions" that bring together Shinto and Buddhism and their phenomenal growth in the 20th and 21st centuries.

CR: the former RELS 3430


Introduction to Religious Ethics

is an introduction to religious ethics through the systematic study of selected writers and issues in biomedicine, human sexuality, and social justice. Possible topics for discussion include euthanasia, abortion, poverty, and unemployment.

CR: students who have successfully completed both the former RELS 2600 and the former RELS 2601 may not receive credit for RELS 2610


Gender and Sexualities in Western Religions

examines attitudes toward, and treatment and construction of gender and sexualities in Western religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and New Religious Movements. Contemporary evaluations of these traditions from gender studies perspectives will be considered.


Gender and Sexualities in Asian Religions

examines gender and sexuality in the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism and folk traditions in Asia. Contemporary evaluations of these traditions from gender studies perspectives will be considered.


Religion and Modern Culture

is an historical examination of the impact of science on religion in Western culture. Particular emphasis will be placed on such developments as the scientific revolution, the rise of modern technology, and the emergence of modern scientific theories.


Contemporary Religious Movements

explores the development and forms of modern, western spiritualties, such as modern witchcraft, Neo-pagan religions, Mother Earth spirituality, UFO religion and the New Age Movement.


Religion and Popular Culture

focuses on the portrayal and treatment of religion in popular culture and the ways in which religious and mythic themes are expressed in such pop culture forums as television shows, films, music, mass-market fiction, and material culture.


Cults and New Religious Movements

- inactive course.


Religion and Popular Music

explores the religious themes and images found in popular music and song, considering the role of music as a vehicle for religious expression.


Religion and the Law: The Secular in Contemporary Canada

examines contemporary legal debates on secularism in Canada. Taking a historical and sociological perspective, it considers how shifts in immigration policy have encouraged a diversity of contemporary religious practice. The course pays particular attention to religion and public policy (related to the Multiculturalism Act) and to changing definitions of accommodation and the secular.


Medieval Books

(same as English 3002, History 3000, and Medieval Studies 3000) is an examination of the development and role of the manuscript book during the Middle Ages. Topics covered will include book production and dissemination; authors, scribes and audiences; and various kinds of books (e.g. glossed Bibles, anthologies, books of hours, etc.) and their uses.

CR: English 3002, History 3000, and Medieval Studies 3000


Greek Religion

(same as Classics 3010) is a study of the role of religion in the private and public life of the Greek world.

CR: Classics 3010, the former RELS 3121, the former Classics 3121


Roman Religion

(same as Classics 3020) is a study of the role of religion in the private and public life of the Roman world.

CR: Classics 3020, the former RELS 3121, the former Classics 3121


The Book of Genesis

introduces students to one of the founding texts of Western culture, the book of Genesis. Special attention will be paid to the role of myth, human origins, values, and political institutions.

CR: the former RELS 3030


Anthropology of Religion

(same as Anthropology 3053) is a critical evaluation of anthropological research on religion, centering on seminal thinkers and major theoretical traditions. Special attention is given to the study of belief systems, and to relationships between belief and ritual.

CR: Anthropology 3053


Topics in Religion and Politics

is a seminar-based course which offers socio-political and philosophical analyses of the impacts of religion in specific political contexts taking a variety of theoretical approaches. The geographical and historical foci of the course will vary by instructor.


The Prophets of Israel

is a study of the prophets through the relevant books of the Old Testament. Problems of text and interpretation will be discussed in relation to selected passages, but the general approach will be to bring out the creative genius and radical implications of the prophetic movement as a whole.


The Problem of Justice in the Old Testament

introduces students to the universal problem of divine justice as it is depicted in various biblical books. Special attention will be placed on the book of Job, but notions of suffering in the Psalms, Jeremiah, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and some apocryphal literature will also be considered.

CR: the former RELS 3090


Jesus of Nazareth

is a study of the historical Jesus. Beginning with an assessment of the relevant source material, this course explores what can be known about the life of Jesus of Nazareth in its historical and cultural contexts.


Paul and His Writings

is a study of the writings of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. and his contribution to Christianity in the cultural and historical milieu in which he lived and was active.


The Gospel of John

is an examination of the Gospel of John and the community which produced it. Special attention will be given to the place of the Gospel in the history of early Christianity.


Christianity and the Roman Empire

(same as Classics 3270 and History 3270) is a study of the relationship between Christianity and the Roman Empire from the first to the fourth century.

CR: Classics 3270, History 3270


Contemporary Issues and the Bible

examines the relevance of the Bible to such issues as climate change, capitalism, and technology and freedom.

CR: the former RELS 3275


Ancient Israel

is an exploration of the religious thought and practices of Israel and Judah in their cultural and historical contexts in the Old Testament period, from their beginnings to the Babylonian Exile of the sixth century B.C.E.

CR: the former RELS 3050


Judaism at the Time of Jesus

will explore the developments in Jewish thought, institutions, beliefs, and practices from the Babylonian Exile of the sixth century B.C.E. to the time of Jesus, King Herod and the Roman Empire of the first century C.E.

CR: the former RELS 3220


Zen, Buddhist Meditation, and Buddhist Psychology

examines the relationship between meditation and theories of human psychology in Buddhism from its origins to its formulation in Zen.


The Ramayana: A Hindu Epic and Performance Tradition

is a study of one of the most influential Epics of Hinduism, the story of Rama, the perfect king of a golden age. The course examines various versions of the narrative, the social and religious values expressed through the story, and the Epic’s place in Indian politics, in dramatic performances, and in visual arts.


Warrior, Wife, Witch: Ideal Females and Female Ideals in Hinduism

is a study of Hindu constructions of ideal or iconic females (e.g., Durga, the warrior goddess; Sita, the perfect wife; the Yoginis, the "witches" of Tantra) and their power in the lives of Hindu women. The course includes critical examination of the history of Hindu goddess traditions, the ideals for females in Hindu law, and Hindu women's interpretations of "ideal females".


Readings in Daoism: The Laozi and the Zhuangzi

is a course in the critical reading of the two most important texts in Daoism, the Laozi and the Zhuangzi.

CR: the former RELS 3420, the former RELS 3422


Confucius and Confucianism

begins with Confucius and China, and explores the growth and impact of Confucianism on East Asian society through an examination of its major writings.

CR: the former Religious Studies 3420, the former Religious Studies 3421


Philosophy of Religion

(same as Philosophy 3500) explores the philosophical aspects of religious belief, religious language, and theology.

CR: Philosophy 3500


Christianity in the Reformation Era

is a study of Christian thought and practice in the Reformation era. This course will examine both Protestant and Catholic efforts at reform from the late Middle Ages to the seventeenth century.


Christianity in the Modern Era

is a study of Western Christianity from the Enlightenment to the twentieth century through an examination of institutional and intellectual developments as well as changes in popular religious consciousness and practice.

CR: the former RELS 3530, the former RELS 3595


Christian Thought in the Middle Ages

(same as Medieval Studies 3003) is a study of the development of Christianity in the West from the eleventh century to the eve of the Reformation, through an examination of its principal thinkers and the most significant societal forces and events: the crusades, the universities, monasticism, religious dissent, and mysticism.

CR: Medieval Studies 3003


Ancient Myth and Cult

(same as Classics 3600) develops the students’ knowledge of myth and material culture by examining specific religious sites in the Greek and Roman world as foci of ritual practice. Students will learn to integrate knowledge of the physical remains with the literary and ritual evidence in order to obtain a more integrated understanding of religious life in ancient Greece and Rome.

CR: Classics 3600


Religion and Bioethics

is an examination of the religious ethics of health care in the light of foundational concepts of bioethics. Topics to be discussed will include the relation of religion and medicine, as well as specific issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and genetic engineering.


Religion and Social Justice

is a study of social justice issues that arise from an investigation of economic and political systems from the perspective of religious ethics. Topics addressed may include environmental ethics, ecofeminism, gender equity, pacifism, civil disobedience, poverty, and social welfare questions.


Religion and the Problem of Evil

is a study of religious approaches to the problem of evil. Attention will be paid to both traditional and contemporary efforts among the world's religions to address the problem.

CR: the former RELS 4800


Re/Presentations of Muslim Women: Gender, Colonialism and Islam

is presented in three parts. Firstly, there will be a grounding theoretically in Islam, Orientalism, feminism and contemporary political implications related to the study of Muslim women. Secondly, there will be a consideration of topics which have served as explanations for the "difference" of Muslim women in various contexts, both in contemporary Muslim majority and minority political situations. Lastly, the course concludes by considering a variety of contemporary ethnographic representations of Muslim women in Egypt, Palestine, France, Turkey, Cyprus and Malaysia.


Religion, Society. and Culture

is a study of modern attempts to analyze, interpret, and reassess the place and significance of religion in human life. Attention will be given to thinkers such as Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, and Durkheim.

CR: the former RELS 3531


Contemporary Alternative Spirituality

is an in-depth examination of one or more forms of contemporary alternative spirituality. Students will study the writings of practitioners of alternative spirituality, as well as social-scientific studies of alternative spiritual groups. Religious movements to be explored include African-American alternative spirituality, Mother Earth and Creation spirituality, Neo-paganism, the New Age Movement, UFO spirituality, and contemporary witchcraft.


Religion and Disney: Not Just Another Mickey Mouse Course

provides an in-depth examination of religious themes and issues arising from and within the philosophies of Walt Disney, the Disney animated films, other Disney feature films, and the Disney theme parks. Theoretical models drawn from the field of Religion and Popular Culture will provide the lens through which the religious dimensions of Disney and Disney fandom will be explored.

PR: completion of RELS 2812 is recommended but not required


Religion and the Arts

(same as Visual Arts 3820) is an examination of the role of art in the expression of religious ideas, together with a study of specific religious themes and concerns in one or more of the following: literature, film, music, painting, sculpture, and dance.

CR: Visual Arts 3820


Rites of Passage

is an introduction to the scholarly study of ritual, focusing on lifecycle transitions: birth and initiation rites, weddings, and funerals. In addition to studying practices from a range of religious traditions, consideration is given to contemporary images, perceptions, and stories of passage, as well as to classical rites of passage theory.


Implicit Religion: The Sacred in Secular Places

is an in-depth examination of the concept of implicit religion. The course will explore the concept of "the sacred" through an examination of the ideas of such theorists as Eliade, Turner, and Bailey and will examine the claims of some Religious Studies scholars that the sacred can be found in secular contexts.


Religion, Worldviews, and the Environment

examines the human connection to the natural world as expressed in traditional religions, indigenous worldviews and contemporary approaches to environmental crises.


Religion in Newfoundland and Labrador: Beginnings

is a study of religion and its role in Newfoundland society from the seventeenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century. Attention will be given to the origin, growth, and consolidation of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Moravian, and Congregational churches.


Religion in Newfoundland and Labrador: The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

is a study of religion and its role in Newfoundland society from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present. The course will include the history of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, United (Methodist), Congregational, and Presbyterian churches in Newfoundland and the establishment and social significance of the Pentecostal movement and the Salvation Army.


Religious Texts and Traditions

is an advanced seminar course which examines religious texts from a variety of religious traditions. Study may involve an exploration of sacred texts, traditions, and their interpreters. Content will vary with instructor.


Religion, Culture, and Society

is an advanced seminar course which concerns religious themes and issues as they affect culture. Study may involve the exploration of institutions, rituals, built environments, and spaces. Content will vary with instructor.


World Religions: Special Subjects

are courses which will be offered at the discretion of the Department. They are designed to provide an opportunity for students majoring in Religious Studies or doing a strong concentration of courses in the area to pursue advanced study under tutorial supervision.

PR: permission of the Department


Folk Religion

(same as Folklore 4460) examines how established global religions and new forms of spirituality manifest themselves and are religion as it is "lived" on a daily basis in a variety of local contexts worldwide. It focuses primarily on forms of belief and spirituality that are informally expressed. Drawing upon various cultural contexts, the course addresses such notions as space and time; metaphysical powers; religious material culture, music, and verbal art; and the role and power of the holy person. All sections of this course follow International Studies guidelines available at

CR: Folklore 4460, the former Folklore 4240


Religion, Ethics, and Modern Culture: Special Subjects

are courses which will be offered at the discretion of the Department. They are designed to provide an opportunity for students majoring in Religious Studies or doing a strong concentration of courses in the area to pursue advanced study under tutorial supervision.

PR: permission of the Department

4902-4910 (Excluding 4904, 4905, 4906)

Language Studies: Special Subjects

provide students with advanced training in languages necessary for studying ancient religious texts. The languages presently offered through the Department are Biblical Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Mandarin Chinese. In addition, courses in Latin and Greek are available from the Department of Classics. All sections of this course follow the Language Study Course Guidelines available at


Comprehensive Examination for Honours Students

will be based on a program of assigned reading related to the general subject area of the student's dissertation.


Honours Essay for Honours Students

may be required as part of the honours program.

AR = Attendance requirement; CH = Credit hours are 3 unless otherwise noted; CO = Co-requisite(s); CR = Credit can be retained for only one course from the set(s) consisting of the course being described and the course(s) listed; LC = Lecture hours per week are 3 unless otherwise noted; LH = Laboratory hours per week; OR = Other requirements of the course such as tutorials, practical sessions, or seminars; PR = Prerequisite(s); UL = Usage limitation(s).