Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

RELS237 Psychology of Religion

An introduction to the psychology of religion, with emphasis on what research in contemporary cognitive and evolutionary psychology says about human religious belief and behaviour.

Can religious belief and behaviour be explained by science? What does cognitive and evolutionary psychology tell us about belief in god? Is religion universal? Is religion a product of human evolution? How does religious belief develop in childhood? What social functions does religion serve? Combining scholarship on religion and psychology, this paper introduces students to the important interdisciplinary field of psychology of religion. In addition to the above questions, students will learn both about the latest research on the psychology of terrorism, the psychology of atheism and the psychological effects of religion on prejudice/tolerance. No background experience in religion or psychology is required.

Paper title Psychology of Religion
Paper code RELS237
Subject Religious Studies
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) First Semester, First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $851.85
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,585.00

^ Top of page

Prerequisite
36 points
Restriction
RELS 337
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
Notes
May not be credited together with RELS 231 or RELS 331 passed in 2016.
Contact
john.shaver@otago.ac.nz
Course outline
View the sample course outline for RELS 237
Teaching staff
Lecturer: Dr John Shaver
Paper Structure
This paper is divided into three modules:
  • The cognitive foundations of religious belief
  • The social functions of religious belief
  • Explaining modern forms of belief: from fundamentalists to atheists
Assessment:
  • Quizzes (20%)
  • Essays (50%)
  • Midterm and Final Examinations (30%)
Teaching Arrangements
For on-campus students there is one 2-hour lecture per week.

For distance students there are fortnightly tutorials (via Zoom).
Textbooks
No textbooks required. A course book has been developed for this paper and will be available in print and PDF form.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Communication, Ethics, Information Literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to
  • Understand psychological theories of religion and evaluate research that tests these theories
  • Understand the different methods employed in the psychology of religion and their relative strengths and weaknesses
  • Evaluate arguments based on empirical data
  • Write a clear, persuasive and original commentary about an evidence-based argument

^ Top of page

Timetable

First Semester

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system
Blackboard

First Semester

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system
Blackboard

Lecture

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
L1 Monday 14:00-15:50 9-15, 17-22

An introduction to the psychology of religion, with emphasis on what research in contemporary cognitive and evolutionary psychology says about human religious belief and behaviour.

Can religious belief and behaviour be explained by science? What does cognitive and evolutionary psychology tell us about belief in god? Is religion universal? Is religion a product of human evolution? How does religious belief develop in childhood? What social functions does religion serve? Combining scholarship on religion and psychology, this paper introduces students to the important interdisciplinary field of psychology of religion. In addition to the above questions, students will learn about the latest research on the psychology of terrorism, the psychology of atheism and the psychological effects of religion on prejudice/tolerance. No background experience in religion or psychology is required.

Paper title Psychology of Religion
Paper code RELS237
Subject Religious Studies
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Second Semester, Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for 2018 have not yet been set
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

^ Top of page

Prerequisite
36 points
Restriction
RELS 337
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
Notes
May not be credited together with RELS 231 or RELS 331 passed in 2016.
Contact
john.shaver@otago.ac.nz
Teaching staff
Lecturer: Dr John Shaver
Paper Structure
This paper is divided into three modules:
  • The cognitive foundations of religious belief
  • The social functions of religious belief
  • Explaining modern forms of belief: from fundamentalists to atheists
Assessment:
  • Quizzes (20%)
  • Essays (40%)
  • Midterm and Final Examinations (40%)
Teaching Arrangements
For on-campus students there is one 2-hour lecture per week.

For distance students there are fortnightly tutorials (via Zoom).
Textbooks
A coursebook containing lecture notes and readings is available for this paper. Printed copies will be provided for distance students and are also available through the printshop. The coursebook is also available as a PDF through Blackboard.
Course outline
View the sample course outline for RELS 237
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to
  • Understand psychological theories of religion and evaluate research that tests these theories
  • Understand the different methods employed in the psychology of religion and their relative strengths and weaknesses
  • Evaluate arguments based on empirical data
  • Write a clear, persuasive and original commentary about an evidence-based study

^ Top of page

Timetable

Second Semester

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system
Blackboard

Second Semester

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system
Blackboard

Lecture

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
L1 Monday 10:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41