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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

THEO1920 Religion, Politics and Society in the Modern World

10 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Professor Sean McLoughlin

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

Module replaces

Though this module will not be a direct replacement, THEO1165 is no longer being taught.

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

How does religion intersect with politics and society in the modern world? To what diverse ends are religious values and ideologies used by more or less powerful political actors, from governments to ordinary members of society? This module draws upon perspectives from anthropology, sociology and political science to introduce students to the contentious role of religion in public settings at different scales from the local to the national and the international. Students will have the opportunity to learn about the relationship between religion, individuals, communities and their governance, key questions about secularity, liberal democracy and human rights, as well as pressing concerns associated with globalisation, development, ecology and multiculturalism. They will also explore how relationships between religion, politics and society can play out quite differently across traditions such as Christianity, Islam and Indian religions, as well as in diverse regional contexts, including the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South / South East Asia.


The objectives of the module are:
- To introduce students to the key concepts, scales and actors associated with social scientific approaches to the study of religion, politics and society, as well as to selected themes and debates.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module students will have acquired:
- Foundational knowledge and understanding of the inter-relationships between religion, politics and society, grounded in key approaches and concepts drawn from across political science, sociology and anthropology.
- Core knowledge and understanding of key themes and debates in the study of religion, politics and society, e.g. nationalism, democracy, human rights, development, fundamentalism, multiculturalism and ecology.
- An ability to recognise the complex intersection of religion, politics and society across different traditions, in different regional contexts, at local, national and transnational scales, as well as among different types of actors (e.g. citizens, movements, governments).
- Enhanced academic skills in terms of reading, listening, thinking and writing critically and effectively.
- A sound academic basis for more advanced modules studying intersections of religion, politics and society at Levels 2 and 3.


The module consists of 11 lectures and 5 seminars.

Indicative Lecture themes:
1. Introduction: Religion, Politics & Society in the Modern World
2. Concepts, Actors & Scales: Anthropological approaches
3. Concepts, Actors & Scales: Sociological approaches
4. Concepts, Actors & Scales: Political Science approaches
5. Themes & Debates: Religion, Nations and Empires
6. Themes & Debates: Religion, Democracy and Civil Society
7. Themes & Debates: Religion, Human Rights and Gender/Sexuality
8. Themes & Debates: Religion, Global Development and Ecology
9. Themes & Debates: Religion, Fundamentalism and Conflict
10. Themes & Debates: Religion, Diasporas and Multiculturalism
11. Module Overview and Revision Exercises

Indicative Seminars:
1. Key Concepts + Introduction to Assessment
2. Comparing Disciplines/Actors/Scales + Assessment Q&A
3. Case Study 1 - Wks 5-6 Themes/Debates + Tradition/Region/Actor
4. Case Study 2 - Wks 7-8 Themes/Debates + Tradition/Region/Actor
5. Case Study 3 - Wks 9-10 Themes/Debates + Traditional/Region/Actor

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Private study hours82.00
Total Contact hours18.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

This will be used by students to prepare for lectures, seminars and assessment:
- Preparation for lectures: 11 x 2 = 22 hours
- Preparation for seminars: 5 x 3 = 15 hours
- Preparation of short essay: 17 hours
- Exam preparation: 30 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress is monitored through attendance and contributions/feedback during seminars, as well as opportunities for other face-to-face and/or electronic exchanges including office hours.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 500 words25.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)25.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)1 hr 30 mins75.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)75.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 25/03/2019


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