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: AR2100A (Approved)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

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


Describe the history and teachings of the major world religions


Demonstrate an understanding of the religious belief, sacred text and major figures of major world religions


Compare different religious teachings


Discuss the relationship between religion, politics and conflict/violence


Face-to Face: 12 weekly sessions, required reading and additional resources.

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 2 (2000 words)

0 50.0

Written Assessment Task Essay 1 (1500 words)

0 30.0

Written Assessment Task Reading reflections (1000 words)

0 20.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Nov, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2019-02-05 11:27:07 +1100