This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
The number of participants is limited to 24.
Please note that passing a Thematic Seminar (10 EC) in the second year, second semester, is an entry requirement for starting your thesis in academic year 2022-2023. You need to have passed a minimum of 100 EC of year 1 and 2 of the International Studies programme as well in order to start your thesis.
Religion permeates our world and remains highly influential across all domains of human society, including politics, culture, and economics. Religion also plays a critical role in everyday life as it provides meaning, motivation, and social support for billions of people. Despite trends of secularisation in some areas, on a global level religious identification is actually growing and a majority of people around the world continue to be affiliated with religious organisations and communities. It is not a stretch to claim that no matter the region, the issue, or the historical period, knowledge of religion is essential for understanding the world. This course will introduce students to today’s major religious traditions and movements and how they encounter modernity and the transnational forces that continue to shape and transform the twenty-first century. In each case, the regional origins of religions will be highlighted, while also paying close attention to how religions have migrated and globalised over the centuries. Students will be given a chance to explore this local-regional-global perspective in-depth within their final research essays.
Beyond being introduced to the histories and modern practices of well-known traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, students will also acquire a basic knowledge of lesser-known traditions such as Neopaganism, New Age, Shintoism, Confucianism, and African Indigenous Religions. Within the course readings, students will read primary texts from each tradition and engage in academic articles related to prominent issues in the study of religion, including issues of violence, gender, sexuality, secularisation, and politics. Outside of the classroom, students will also have opportunities to visit local religious communities and reflect on these encounters using field reports. By the end of the course, students will have a broad knowledge of what religion is, how it is being practiced in the modern world, and how to analyse and understand it as a diverse (human) phenomenon.
The Thematic Seminars for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the multidisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.
Academic skills that are trained include:
Oral and written presentation skills:
1. To explain clear and substantiated research results.
2. To provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course:
in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
using up-to-date presentation techniques;
using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
aimed at a specific audience.
3. To actively participate in a discussion
1. To provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position.
2. To adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.
Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. To collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques.
2. To analyse and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability.
3. To formulate on this basis a sound research question.
4. To design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved.
5. To formulate a substantiated conclusion.
The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the Midterm Exam week. This includes supervised research.
Assessment and Weighing
|Living Religions Field Reports
|Final Research Essay - 5,000 words (between 4,500 and 5,500)
To successfully complete the course, please take note that the End Grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assessment components.
Students who score an overall insufficient grade for the course, are allowed resubmit a reworked version of the Final Essay. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the Final Research Essay and subsequent feedback.
In case of resubmission of the Final Research Essay the final grade for the Essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.
Students who fail to hand in their final essay on or before the original deadline, but still within 5 working days of that deadline, will receive a grade and feedback on their essay. This will be considered a first submission of the final essay, however, the grade will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.
Students who fail to hand in their final essay on or before the original deadline, and also fail to hand in their essay within 5 working days of that deadline, get 10 working days, counting from the original deadline, to hand in the first version of their final essay. However, this first version counts as a resubmitted essay with consequential lowering of the grade, and there will be no option of handing in a reworked version based on feedback from the lecturer.
Retaking a passing grade
Retaking a passing grade is not possible for this course.
Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2021 – 2022.
Exam review and feedback
How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.
No single textbook will be used for the course. Primary texts and academic articles will be made available to students via Brightspace or the university library.
Additionally, the students will work through:
W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, fourth edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2016, or;
W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
Registration occurs via survey only. Registration opens 17 December 2021:
- On 17 December 2021 you will receive a message with a link to the survey.
- Indicate there which are your 5 preferred Thematic Seminars, in order of preference.
- Based on preferences indicated by 3 January 2022 the course Coordinator will assign you to one specific Thematic Seminar by 24 January 2022.
- Students will then be enrolled for the specific groups by the Administration Office.
Students cannot register in uSis for the Thematic Seminar courses, or be allowed into a Thematic Seminar course in any other way.
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Student Affairs Office for BA International Studies
The deadline for submission of the Final Essay is Friday 10 June 2022.