Office of the Registrar
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (2022/2023)
16.26 Religious Studies

A tentative list of upcoming Religious Studies course offerings can be found at

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


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: the former RELS 4905


Sanskrit Language Study II

is a continuation of Sanskrit Language Study I. On successful 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: the former RELS 4906



is a study of the Christian tradition, its development and variety. The course will include an examination of the beliefs and practices of both Eastern and Western Christianity and a study of the main differences among the major Western denominations.

CR: the former RELS 2130, 2140


Jesus at the Movies

(same as the former RELS 1022) 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.

CR: the former RELS 1022


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.


Philosophy of Religion

(same as Philosophy 2070) explores the philosophical aspects of religious belief, religious language, and theology.

CR: Philosophy 2070, the former Philosophy 3500, the former Religious Studies 3500


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.


History of Medieval Philosophy

same as Philosophy 2205, Medieval Studies 2205) examines and traces the historical developments of a number of philosophical themes, questions, and ideas throughout medieval philosophy by reading, analyzing, and discussing selected primary texts from philosophers and theologians from the 4th to 14th centuries. Authors may include Augustine, Proclus, Boethius, Al-Farabi Ibn Sina, Anselm, Ibn Rushd, Maimonides, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Scotus, and Ockham, among others.

CR: Philosophy 2205, Medieval Studies 2205



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


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, and 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

- inactive course.


Introduction to Religious Ethics

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

CR: the former RELS 2600 and the former RELS 2601


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

- inactive course.


Religion and Science

is an historical examination of the dynamic interaction of religion and science in modern Western culture. In addition to classic case studies such as the Galileo affair, Darwin’s evolutionary theory, and the 1925 Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’, the course asks whether science and religion are inherently at ‘war’ with each other or whether they have points of contact and perhaps even integration.


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

analyzes the portrayal and treatment of religion in popular culture and the ways in which religious and mythic themes are communicated through a variety of media forms including television shows, films, music, mass-market fiction, and material culture.


Religion and Popular Music

- inactive course.


Religion and the Law in Contemporary Canada

examines contemporary legal debates on the place and contours of ‘religion’ in Canada. Through consideration of a number of post-Charter Supreme Court of Canada decisions, as well as sociological research on different religious communities, we delve into the changing meanings of religious diversity in Canada.


Intermediate Language Studies: Special Subjects

provide students with intermediate training in languages necessary for studying ancient religious texts. The languages presently offered through the Department are Mandarin Chinese, Biblical Hebrew, and Sanskrit. All sections of these courses follow the Language Study Course Guidelines available at

CR: the former RELS 4902-4910 and 4311 in the corresponding language: Mandarin Chinese, Biblical Hebrew, or Sanskrit

PR: 6 credits at the first year level of study in the corresponding language: Mandarin Chinese (RELS 1040 and 1041), Biblical Hebrew (RELS 1050 and 1051), or Sanskrit (RELS 1060 and 1061)


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. Topics include the Greek gods, religious rituals, sacred sites and temples, regional and temporal variations in religious practices, and the role of religion in society. The course may also compare ancient Greek religious practices and modern conceptions of religion.

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

PR: there is no prerequisite for this course but students are strongly advised to have successfully completed at least one 1000- level or 2000-level Greek and Roman Studies course before registering in any 3000-level or higher Greek and Roman Studies course


Roman Religion

(same as Classics 3020) is a study of the role of religion in the private and public life of the Roman world. Topics include the Roman divinities, sacred sites and temples, the role of religion in politics and society, the interaction with and assimilation of foreign religious practices, and the rise of Christianity. Students may also compare Roman religious practices with modern conceptions of religion.

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.


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.


Christianity and the Roman Empire

(same as Classics 3270, History 3270, Medieval Studies 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, Medieval Studies 3270


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 Buddhist psychology in Tibetan and Zen Buddhism and compares that to modern Western understandings.


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.


Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism

(same as the former Religious Studies 2415) examines myth, iconography and ritual of Hindu gods and goddesses from the ancient to the contemporary period. The course explores fundamental assumptions of Hindu theistic traditions in popular practice and in the religious institutions of bhakti and tantra.

CR: the former Religious Studies 2415


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

- inactive course.


Religion From Left Field

examines modern, left-leaning (Marxist, anarchist, socialist) understandings, adaptations, and critiques of Jewish and Christian thought. We consider religion not simply as an object of political analysis and critique, but as a contributing factor to the emergence in Europe of an influential body of post- Enlightenment emancipatory thought and political theology, as found in currents of Western Marxism.


Christianity and Ritual Sacrifice

introduces students to the thought of René Girard. Girard engages with anthropology, literature, the biblical tradition, and Christian thought in developing a conflict theory of social origins in sacrificial rites, examining the close relationship between violence and the sacred. The course considers applications of Girard’s work to contemporary cultural dynamics, war, international affairs, and democratic processes.


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: edieval 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 learn to integrate knowledge of physical remains with 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

examines religious perspectives on social justice issues, which may include environmental ethics, ecofeminism, gender and racial equity, pacifism, civil disobedience, economic justice, and post-colonial reconciliation.


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.


What is Islamophobia?

explores the historical roots and contemporary manifestations of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim discrimination globally. Broadly, we ask: what accounts for the “irrational” fear of Islam and the ascendance of “the Muslim” as the defining racial and religious “other” of our time?


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 in historic and contemporary contexts. 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 Spiritualism, and may also include Neo-paganism, the New Age Movement, and/or UFO spirituality as relevant.


Religion and Disney Films: 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, Disney animated films, and other Disney entertainment products. Theoretical models drawn from the field of Religion and Popular Culture will provide the lens through which the religious dimensions of Disney films will be explored.

PR: successful 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.


From Elvis to the Undertaker: Religion Outside the Box

explores the idea that religion, the sacred, and/or spirituality can manifest outside the confines of conventionally defined religious spaces. In particular, this course draws upon a variety of theoretical models to examine the idea that religion is found within popular culture, and within popular culture fan communities.


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.


Religious Texts and Traditions

is an advanced seminar course that 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 that examines 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 on specialized topics in religious traditions, texts, and histories.

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

4801-4830 (Excluding 4812)

Religion, Ethics, and Modern Culture: Special Subjects

are courses which will be offered at the discretion of the Department on specialized topics in religions and modern cultures.

PR: permission of the Department


Religion in Disney Parks

will introduce students to a variety of theoretical concepts, and provide students with the opportunity to apply these concepts in the field at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida or other Disney theme park. Concepts to be explored include civil religion, hyper-real religion, and religious consumerism; Disney's constructed pasts, futures and the global village will also be explored. AR: attendance is required in a field trip outside of Canada for which students incur the financial costs. Normally the field trip is held during the Winter semester break.

AR: attendance is required in a field trip outside of Canada for which students incur the financial costs. Normally the field trip is held during the Winter semester break.

PR: RELS 2812, RELS 3812, or RELS 3860, or permission of the instructor


Comprehensive Examination

prepares students to write a comprehensive examination at the end of the term, on a chosen area of specialization in Religious Studies. To complete the Honours Program in Religious Studies, students must successfully complete either the Honours Essay (RELS 4999) or the Comprehensive Examination.

PR: enrollment in the Honours program and 6 credit hours in Religious Studies courses at the 3000 level


Honours Essay

develops independent research and writing skills through regular meetings with a supervisor, the preparation of an approved research proposal, and the completion of the final Honours essay by the end of the semester. Prior to enrolling, ideally a semester in advance, students must contact the Head of the Department to identify a potential supervisor. To complete the Honours Program in Religious Studies, students must successfully complete either the Honours Essay or the Comprehensive Examination (RELS 4998).

PR: enrollment in the Honours program and permission of the Head of the Department

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).