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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

THEO2251 Sociology of Religion

20 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Dr Aled Thomas

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Throughout much of its history, sociology, more than any other academic discipline, encouraged us to believe that the world was becoming an increasingly secular, less religious, place. Today, this belief looks mistaken: religion has not disappeared, and has, if anything, tightened its grip upon the hearts and minds of people throughout the world. This does not mean that sociology is no longer important for the study of religion, however. In fact, if we return to the 'classical' founders of the discipline, we can see that their interest in religion is more complex, sensitive and thorough than that of many of their later followers. Furthermore, it is also clear that, for many of them, the idea of a world without religion makes no sense at all, and that sociology, the study of society, must also, necessarily, be the study of religion. Consequently, one aim of this module is to look at these classical theorists again, alongside the work of more modern theorists, and rethink what sociology might offer to the contemporary analysis of religion, culture and society. The module is taught through lectures and seminars, and students do not need a background in sociology or religious studies.


The objectives of this module are to introduce a broad range of theoretical and methodological issues central to the sociological study of religion; to assess the significance of recent developments in social theory for the study of modern religion; and to enable students to reflect critically on the interrelationship between religion and society in the context of modernity. A major concern of the module is to explore how a number of influential theories of religion are related to broader theories of society, particularly with regard to debates about the indispensability of religion to the construction and maintenance of social orders, and counter-arguments about the secularisation of modern societies. The module is concerned principally with the place and character of religion in the theories of the major 'classical' figures in sociology and the work of those who build on their legacy.


After an introduction to key concepts in the sociology of religion the lectures will cover key figures in the sociology of religion (including, for example, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Peter Berger) and their influence in some of the key current debates and issues in the field (including, for example, secularization theory, modernity and postmodernity, globalization post-secularism and pluralism).

The seminars will provide the opportunity for a close reading of some of the key texts in sociology of religion including, for example:
Auguste Comte: Positivism and the Religion of Humanity
Emile Durkheim: The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
Max Weber: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Peter Berger: The Sacred Canopy
Seminars will also be used as an opportunity to discuss assessment tasks.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Preparation for lectures
Preparation for seminars
Essay preparation

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Discussion of concepts and ideas in office hours and during seminars; opportunity to submit a 1,000 word essay plan for written feedback.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3000 Words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)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: 29/04/2024 16:19:43


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