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2013/14 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

THEO1180 Varieties of Religion in Modern African Society

10 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Adriaan Van Klinken

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2013/14

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module introduces African society, where religion, whether Christian, traditional or Islamic, is very much part of the public domain, and is central to the understanding of many aspects of political and social life.It looks at issues such as the celebration of life, attitudes towards sickness and death, magic and sorcery, the role of religion in liberation struggles, religion and social changes.


To introduce students to the study of religion in a very different environment from that of modern Europe. Whereas here religion has been, to a considerable extent, privatised and pushed to the margins of a predominantly secular culture, in Africa religion is very much part of the public domain, and is central to the understanding of many aspects of African political and social life. The module will help students to understand the functions of religion in this milieu, and will introduce students to the three great traditions present in Africa: African traditional religions, Islam and Christianity. It will show how Africa has for centuries existed in a pluralistic religious climate, and how religions co-exist and influence each other. The study will aim to show students that traditional African religions are not 'primitive', nor locked in a purely local 'tribalism', not unchanging, but inherently adaptable and developmental. It will also present Islam and Christianity as genuinely African religions which have been creatively appropriated by African men and women.


- The religious geography of Africa, both continentally and locally.
- The three traditions: traditional religions, Christianity and Islam.
- The celebration of life
- Coping with sickness and death, magic and sorcery
- The role of religion in liberation struggles and relations with the state of independent Africa
- African spirituality movements of revival and renewal in the three traditions
- Religion and social change

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours89.00
Total Contact hours11.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

As this is a 10 credit module, students are expected to devote 100 hours to it over the semester. 11 hours will be taken up in class time.

This leaves 89 hours, which works out at 6 hours per week, which should be used in preparing for the seminars, and a further 29 hours for reading more widely and preparing for module assessment (the examination at the end of the module).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Attendance monitoring.

Methods of assessment

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)100.00

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: 14/03/2014


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