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Unit information: Approaches to the Study of Religion in 2021/22

Unit name Approaches to the Study of Religion
Unit code THRS10030
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. David Leech
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


In this unit, students will encounter a variety of disciplines, key theories and core approaches to the study of religion, examining in particular theological, sociological, anthropological, psychological, philosophical and comparative approaches. These disciplinary approaches will be illuminated by relevant examples drawn from the disciplines of the specialists lecturers who are teaching the unit. John R. Hinnels, The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion (2009; also available as an ebook), will provide the core reading material for the unit. The aim of this unit is to equip students of religion and theology with a sound theoretical understanding of the key disciplines and approaches which shape their study of this discipline.

Students will practise their close reading skills in small groups, and will work together on a group presentation.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the main approaches to the academic study of religion today;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical ideas that have shaped the various scholarly approaches to religion(s);
  3. analyse and evaluate some of the main scholarly approaches to religion(s);
  4. identify pertinent data in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument appropriate to level C/4.

Teaching details

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Details

1 x 1000 word portfolio (formative) [ILOs 1-4] 1 x 2000 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-4]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. THRS10030).