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Religion in World Politics




Admissions requirements

Introduction to Globalization and Transnational Politics


Religion has become an increasingly important issue in international relations over the past thirty years. Against the expectations of secularisation theorists, religion has not only remained socially strong in many parts of the world, but has become increasingly politically assertive. But in what ways does religion intersect with world politics? Is there anything distinctive about religious politics? What implications might there be for central institutions and values of modern political life? And how is the intersection of world politics and religion best managed in the twenty-first century? This course will explore these questions through focusing on the central controversies around the place and role of religion in contemporary world politics, including its relation to secularism, democracy, societal identity, and violence. Understanding of these debates will be deepened and nuanced through study of relevant cases from major religious traditions.

Course objectives


  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of competing theoretical approaches to the study of religion in world politics.

  • Describe the major positions in key debates about religion and contemporary political life.

  • Understand the most important issues raised by the case studies covered.

  • Demonstrate understanding of the complexity and diversity of religious politics around the world.


  • Apply conceptual and theoretical tools to analyse the role religion plays in world politics.

  • Relate empirical cases to broader conceptual and theoretical debates about religion in world politics.

  • Think critically about existing theories and narratives of religion in political life.

  • Communicate arguments effectively, orally and in writing.

  • Develop the capacity to learn independently.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. Students will be expected to participate in both large and small group discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; and take part in group projects. The instructor will facilitate and ensure the efficient running of the discussion, but students are responsible for shaping its direction. Each seminar has a ‘required reading’ list that must be read in advance of each seminar. Students are also recommended to read some of the items listed under ‘suggested reading’ prior to each seminar and use the extended list as a starting point in their preparation for essay writing.


  • Seminar participation: 15%

  • Group presentations: 15%

  • Book review: 30%

  • Individual research essay: 40%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

There is no core text. Recommended texts indicative of the course content include:

  • Ted G. Jelen and Clyde Wilcox (eds.), Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective¬ (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002).

  • Timothy Samuel Shah, Alfred Stepan and Monica Duffy Toft (eds.), ¬Rethinking Religion and World Affairs (Oxford: OUP, 2012).

  • Monica Toft, Daniel Philpott, and Timothy Shah, God's Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics (New York: Norton, 2011).

  • Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, The Politics of Secularism in International Relations (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007).


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr Edmund Frettingham