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Sociology of Religion


Admission requirements

Students should have some basic knowledge of the sociology of religion.

Students who have not followed a BA level introduction course on the sociology of religion are required to contact the lecturer for information about what to read before the course starts.


In this course each student chooses a book to review within one of three fields in the sociology of religion: non-institutional religion, multiculturality and religion, and methodological debates in the sociology of religion. The course has thus two main aims: that students acquire extensive knowledge about a particular field within the sociology of religion, and that they learn how to write a critical, academic review.

The course contains both independent work and peer-group cooperation, and both written assignments and oral presentation. Students will work individually on their review throughout the semester and discuss their ideas, progress and preliminary conclusions with their peers and the teacher at various stages of the work. After two introductory sessions of lectures, the sessions will consist of seminars in which students present and critically evaluate key articles or parts of the book they are reviewing, followed by plenary discussion. We will also discuss how to write an academic review, and students will get feedback on a written draft half-way through the semester. The course will be concluded with a “mini-conference” with presentation and discussion of the final papers.
The course is normally worth 5 ects points, but can be expanded to 10. Students who follow the expanded version of the course are required to read substantially more and write a longer paper (see the section on assessment below). Students who follow the master programme Religion, Culture and Society and plan to write their master’s thesis within the sociology of religion are encouraged to take the expanded course. Expansion of the course must be included in the “individual programme” for the master and needs to be approved by the exam commission. It can also be advisable for students enrolled in other master programmes which work with 10-point courses to take the expanded course. Students who which to take the expanded course should contact the lecturer.

Course objectives

It is the aim of the course that,
• students acquire extensive knowledge on a self-chosen topic within the sociology of religion
• students develop their ability to critically analyse and evaluate the academic work of others
• students develop their skills at academic writing, peer feedback, oral presentation and discussion
• students develop a sophisticated level of sociological questioning and reasoning about late modern religion, appropriate for writing their master thesis


See timetable: http://media.leidenuniv.nl/legacy/ma-rooster.pdf

Meetings: 24h (~1 ects)
Reading assignments: c. 300p (~1,5 ects)
Small tasks: Article presentation, self-evaluation, preparation for conference (~1 ects)
Paper: review of book (c. 200p), 1000-1500 words (~1,5 ects)
(Students who take the course for 10 ects points write instead a major review article of two books, comprising 3200-4000 words, and are required to do two oral presentations.)

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of a combination of lectures, seminars and a final mini-conference.
The course will take off with two introductory lectures on the sociology of religion and the three themes of the course: non-institutional religion, multiculturality and religion, and methodological debates in the sociology of religion.
The bulk of course (sessions 3-10) will consist of tutorials. In most sessions a pair of students will present and evaluate a key article or a portion of the book they are reviewing. This will be followed by plenary discussion. Students will also report on the progress of their papers. The last two sessions will be lumped together as a concluding double session mini-conference mid December. Before the conference, everybody will read the papers of their co-students. At the conference, each student in turn introduce his paper, followed by a plenary discussion of it.

Assessment method

The final mark will be a weighed average of two marks:
(1) Oral presentation and evaluation of article, self-evaluation of paper draft, contribution to the discussion in class and at the final mini-conference: 30%.
(2) Final paper: 70%.
Oral presentation and evaluation of article
At one point during the semester, students are required to present an article (or a part of the book they are reviewing). Depending on the number of students enrolled in the course, students will do this alone or in pairs.
The main assignment in the course is an individually written paper which takes a different form depending on whether the course is done as a 5 or 10 ects course.
Book Review. Students who take the course in the 5 ects version are required to write a book review of a recent book within one of the course’s three themes: non-institutional religion, religion and multiculturality, or methodological debates within the sociology of religion. Students should choose a book of around 150-250 pages. See blackboard for a list of book examples. The review should be 1000-1500 words long.
Review essay. Students who take the course in the 10 ects version are required to write a longer review essay of two books (or one long book) within one of the course’s three themes. The review essay should be 3200-4000 words long.
Students who also do their master’s thesis on the sociology of religion are encouraged to write a book review or review essay within the same field as their thesis.



Reading list

Master copies of the required readings can be found on the course plank in the university library.
Most readings will be journal articles which students can easily download themselves via the university library.


Via uSis
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.

Contact information

Exchange students are particularly encouraged to enroll for the course.
Students who which to specialise in the sociology of religion within the master track Religion, Culture and Society should contact M.A. Davidsen well in advance before the semester to discuss interests and competences and formally agree on an individual master programme.

Drs. M. Davidsen


The course will be taught in English.