16.27 Religious Studies

A tentative list of upcoming Religious Studies course offerings can be found at www.mun.ca/hss/courses.php.

Religious Studies courses are designated by RELS.

RELS 1000 The Religions of the World

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

the former RELS 2010
RELS 1001 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 www.mun.ca/hss/crw.

RELS 1040 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 www.mun.ca/hss/ls.

the former RELS 4904
RELS 1041 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 www.mun.ca/hss/ls.

the former RELS 4911
RELS 1040
RELS 1050 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 www.mun.ca/hss/ls.

the former RELS 3700, the former RELS 4900
RELS 1051 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 www.mun.ca/hss/ls.

the former RELS 3701, the former RELS 4901
RELS 1050
RELS 1606 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 www.mun.ca/hss/ls.


the former RELS 4905


the former RELS 1060

RELS 2013 Christianity

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.

the former RELS 2130, 2140
RELS 2022 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.


the former RELS 1022

RELS 2050 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.

RELS 2051 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.

RELS 2070 Philosophy of Religion

explores the philosophical aspects of religious belief, religious language, and theology.


the former Philosophy 3500, the former Religious Studies 3500


Philosophy 2070

RELS 2180 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.

RELS 2205 History of Medieval Philosophy

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.


Philosophy 2205, Medieval and Early Modern Studies 2205, the former Medieval Studies 2205

RELS 2330 Judaism

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

RELS 2340 Islam

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.

the former RELS 3340
RELS 2350 Religious Institutions

is a contextual study of religious institutions and beliefs, calendrical feasts and solemnities, religious roles and hierarchies, ritual innovation and revitalization.


the former Sociology/Anthropology 2350, the former Sociology 2350


Anthropology 2350

RELS 2400 Buddhism

examines the history of Buddhist traditions in Asia, with consideration of the major developments in Buddhist philosophy, institutions, and practices. These developments may include historical and modern forms of mindfulness, the rise of Buddhist nationalist movements, and the history of Engaged Buddhism.


the former RELS 3400

RELS 2410 Hinduism

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.

the former RELS 3410
RELS 2420 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.

RELS 2425 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.

the former RELS 3425
RELS 2430 Japanese Religions

- inactive course.

RELS 2606 Sanskrit Language Study II

is a continuation of Sanskrit Language Study I, while progressing to advanced grammatical forms and to reading passages from classical Sanskrit texts. On successful completion of this course, students will have the ability to consult Sanskrit texts for research purposes as well as to translate with support. All sections of this course follow the Language Study Course Guidelines available at www.mun.ca/hss/ls.


the former RELS 4906


the former RELS 1061


RELS 1606, or the former RELS 1060, or permission of the instructor

RELS 2610 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.

the former RELS 2600 and the former RELS 2601
RELS 2800 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.

RELS 2801 Gender and Sexualities in Asian Religions

- inactive course.

RELS 2810 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.

RELS 2811 Contemporary Religious Movements

explores the development, beliefs, and practices of a variety of contemporary religious movements, including Wicca, Druidry, Heathenry, the Afro-Caribbean religion of Vodou, New Age, and UFO spiritual traditions.

RELS 2812 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.

RELS 2830 Religion and Popular Music

- inactive course.

RELS 2900-2930 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 www.mun.ca/hss/ls.


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


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 1606 or the former 1060) and (2606 or the former 1061))

RELS 3000 Medieval Books

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.


English 3002, History 3000, Medieval and Early Modern Studies 3000, the former Medieval Studies 3000

RELS 3010 Greek Religion

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.


the former RELS 3121, the former Classics 3121


Classics 3010


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

RELS 3020 Roman Religion

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.


the former RELS 3121, the former Classics 3121


Classics 3020

RELS 3031 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.

the former RELS 3030
RELS 3053 Anthropology of Religion

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.


Anthropology 3053

RELS 3058 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.

RELS 3060 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.

RELS 3200 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.

RELS 3210 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.

RELS 3270 Christianity and the Roman Empire

is a study of the relationship between Christianity and the Roman Empire from the first to the fourth century.


Classics 3270, History 3270, Medieval and Early Modern Studies 3270, the former Medieval Studies 3270

RELS 3305 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.

the former RELS 3050
RELS 3310 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.

the former RELS 3220
RELS 3385 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.


Law and Political Policy 3385, Political Science 3385, the former RELS 2850

RELS 3401 Zen, Buddhist Meditation, and Buddhist Psychology

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

RELS 3411 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.

RELS 3414 Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism

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.


the former Religious Studies 2415

RELS 3431 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.

the former RELS 3420, the former RELS 3422
RELS 3432 Confucius and Confucianism

- inactive course.

RELS 3520 Religion From Left Field

examines modern, left-leaning (Marxist, anarchist, socialist) understandings, adaptations, and critiques of Jewish and Christian thought. The course considers 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.


Political Science 3170

RELS 3540 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.

RELS 3560 Christian Thought in the Middle Ages

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.


Medieval and Early Modern Studies 3003, the former Medieval Studies 3003

RELS 3600 Ancient Myth and Cult

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.


Classics 3600

RELS 3606 Intermediate Studies in Sanskrit

moves beyond learning the fundamentals of Sanskrit grammar and into reading and translating prose and metric texts, with supports from print and online resources.


the former RELS 2905


RELS 2606 or the former RELS 1061, or permission of the instructor

RELS 3640 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.

RELS 3650 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.

RELS 3680 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.

the former RELS 4800
RELS 3800 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.

RELS 3805 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?

RELS 3810 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.

the former RELS 3531
RELS 3811 Contemporary Spiritualism

is an in-depth examination of the religion of Spiritualism in historic and contemporary contexts. Students will study the origins, beliefs, practices, and reformist tendencies of Spiritualism from the 19th century to the present day. In particular, the suffragist and abolitionist emphasis of 19th-century Spiritualism and the influential role of Black Spiritualists in the development of the modern-day movement will be explored.

RELS 3812 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.

successful completion of RELS 2812 is recommended but not required
RELS 3820 Religion and the Arts

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.


Visual Arts 3820

RELS 3840 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.

RELS 3860 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.

RELS 3880 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.

RELS 4001 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.

RELS 4002 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.

RELS 4300-4330 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.

permission of the Department
RELS 4385 Religion and Politics

examines the relationships between religion and politics in modernity. Topics may include: secularism and secularization theory; civil religion; religion as a variable in politics, party formation and voting patterns; the role of religion in colonization/decolonization and reconciliation; religion in public spheres; political theologies; religious factors informing extremism, social polarization, and authoritarianism; religious freedoms, tolerance, accommodation, and the law; war and terrorism; religion in foreign policy and international relations theory.


Political Science 4385


3 credit hours in Political Science or Religious Studies or the instructor's permission

RELS 4460 Folk Religion

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 www.mun.ca/hss/IS.


the former Folklore 4240


Folklore 4460

RELS 4606 Advanced Studies in Sanskrit

develops reading and translation abilities in Sanskrit Epics, Puranas, Shastras, Tantras, and/or literary genres with supports from print and online resources.


RELS 3606 or permission of the instructor

RELS 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.


permission of the Department

RELS 4812 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.


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.


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

RELS 4998 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.

enrollment in the Honours program and 6 credit hours in Religious Studies courses at the 3000 level
RELS 4999 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).

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

AN = Additional notes.

AR = Attendance requirement as noted.

CH = Credit hours: unless otherwise noted, a course normally has a credit value of 3 credit hours.

CO = Co-requisite(s): course(s) listed must be taken concurrently with or successfully completed prior to the course being described.

CR = Credit restricted: The course being described and the course(s) listed are closely related but not equivalent.  Credit is limited to one of these courses.  Normally, these courses cannot be substituted, one for the other, to satisfy program requirements.

EQ = Equivalent: the course being described and the course(s) listed are equal for credit determination.  Credit is limited to one of these courses.  These courses can be substituted, one for the other, to satisfy program requirements.

LC = Lecture hours per week: lecture hours are 3 per week unless otherwise noted.

LH = Laboratory hours per week.

OR = Other requirements of the course such as tutorials, practical sessions, or seminars.

PR = Prerequisite(s): course(s) listed must be successfully completed prior to commencing the course being described.

UL = Usage limitation(s) as noted.

The information on this site has been extracted from the Official 2023-2024 University Calendar. While every reasonable effort has been made to duplicate the information contained in the official University Calendar, if there are differences, the official Memorial University of Newfoundland Calendar will be considered the final and accurate authority.

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