In this unit, we will examine the relationship between Australian society and religion through socio-cultural studies, religious studies and history. Firstly, a historical and socio-cultural approach will uncover the ways that religion has shaped Australian society. Secondly, we focus on religious phenomena in Australia, including Aboriginal Spirituality; Christianity; Buddhism; Islam; Judaism; Bahá'í; Hinduism; Pentecostalism; as well as the absence of religious faith (sometimes, but erroneously, called secularism). Students will present on issues that they may encounter in practice, and how these may be negotiated. Finally, we will envision the future of religion in Australian society.

Unit code: AR3000T

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Religious Studies

Proposing College: Trinity College Theological School

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Learning outcomes


Outline the at times hidden role of religion in shaping Australian society from colonisation to the present


Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between selected religious movements and Australian society


Articulate an awareness of the role of Indigenous spiritualities to Australia's First Peoples

Unit sequence

Elective unit in Religious Studies. 18 points in AH, AP, CH or CT required. No co-requisites. No prohibited combinations


Lectures, tutorials, online resources

Indicative Bibliography

  • Asad, Talal. 1993. “The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category.” In Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam, 27–54. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
  • Bouma, Gary. 2006. Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the Twenty-First Century. Port Melbourne, VIC: Cambridge University Press, 1–30 (ebook – available online).
  • Bouma, Gary D., and Anna Halafoff. 2017. “Australia’s Changing Religious Profile— Rising Nones and Pentecostals, Declining British Protestants in Superdiversity: Views from the 2016 Census.” Journal for the Academic Study of Religion. 30(2): 129–143.
  • Djiniyini, Gondarra. 1988. Father you gave us the Dreaming. Darwin: Uniting Church in Australia.
  • Hudson, Wayne. 2016. Australian Religious Thought. Clayton, VIC: Monash University Publishing, 1–60.
  • Micklethwait, John and Adrian Wooldridge. 2009. God is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith is Changing the World. New York: Penguin Press, 55–78.
  • Nongbri, Brent. 2013. Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept. New Haven and New York: Yale University Press, 15–24 (ebook – available online).
  • Pattel-Gray, Anne (2014). “Spirituality.” In Another World is Possible: Spiritualities and Religions of Global Darker Peoples, 64–74. Edited by D.N. Hopkins and M. Lewis. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Saeed, Abdullah. 2003. Islam in Australia. Sydney: Allen & Unwin (ebook – available online).
  • Tacey, David J. 1995. Edge of the Sacred: Transformation in Australia. Blackburn North, VIC: Harper Collins, 148–176.
  • Turner, Bryan S. 2007. “Globalization, Religion and Empire in Asia.” In Religion, Globalization and Culture, edited by P. Beyer, and L.G. Beaman, 145–165. Boston: Brill, (ebook – available online).


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Essay - Essay 2500 40.0
Seminar or Tutorial - Presentation

Students will conduct their own research into this topic, and present their findings during a mini conference day. External students can choose to participate via Skype in real time, or pre-record and upload their presentations. Presentations should be no more than 12–15 minutes, with around 5–10 minutes for questions and discussion. Students should discuss topics with the coordinator, and will have license to pursue their own interests, within reason and the confines of the above topics.

1500 30.0
Tutorial Paper/Seminar Paper - Tutorial Paper

Following the presentations, students will be asked to compose a brief report. The report will contain the content of their presentation, and also make a note of the feedback and critique received from fellow students and the lecturers, and how this has been synthesised by the student into their conclusions.

1000 30.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 27 Sep, 2021

Unit record last updated: 2021-09-27 14:53:12 +1000