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; and 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: AR9000T

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Religious Studies

Proposing College: Trinity College Theological School

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Learning outcomes


Critically assess the role religion has played in shaping Australian society to the present day.


Articulate an in-depth understanding of a specific religious or secular phenomenon and its relationship with Australian society.


Enumerate comprehension of socio-cultural theory in relation to religion and secularism, and ability to apply this to issues in Australian society.

Unit sequence

Postgraduate elective in Religious Studies. 24 points in either AH, AP, CH or CT. No prohibited combinations


Lectures, seminars, tutorials.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Bouma, Gary. 2006. Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the Twenty-First Century. Port Melbourne, VIC: Cambridge University Press.
  • Daly, Mary. 1985. Beyond God the Father: Towards a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation. London: The Women’s Press.
  • Djiniyini, Gondarra. 1988. Father you gave us the Dreaming. Darwin: Uniting Church in Australia.
  • Durkheim, Emile. 1976 [1912]. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Translated by J.W * Swain. London: Allen & Unwin.
  • Kierkegaard, Søren. 1992 [1846]. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments. Edited and translated by H.V. Hong and E.H. Hong. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich. 2007 [1887]. On the Genealogy of Morality. Translated by C. Diethe, edited by K. Ansell-Pearson. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nongbri, Brent. 2013. Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept. New Haven and New York: Yale University Press.
  • 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.
  • Taylor, Charles. 2007. A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press
  • Weber, Max. 2001 [1905]. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and other writings. London: Routledge.
  • Zaehner, R.C. 1969. The Bhagavad-Gītā with a commentary based on the original sources. Oxford: Clarendon Press.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
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 / Zoom 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.

2000 30.0
Tutorial Paper/Seminar Paper - Seminar 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.

2000 30.0
Essay - Essay 3500 40.0

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

Unit record last updated: 2021-09-27 14:55:04 +1000