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RELS241 Religion, Conflict and Conspiracy Theory

The role of conspiracy theories in contemporary religious conflicts. Antisemitic conspiracies, Holocaust denial, Muslim conspiracies, Satanic panics, occult societies, alien overlords, the End Times and ISIS Apocalypse, flat-earthers, climate-change deniers.

We examine today's major conspiracy theories, and the role of societal conflict and religion in conspiracist belief, flat-earthism, climate skepticism, conspirituality, Illuminati and New World conspiracies, Holocaust denial, QAnon, Great Replacement conspiracies and other conspiracies.

Paper title Religion, Conflict and Conspiracy Theory
Paper code RELS241
Subject Religious Studies
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Semester 1 (Distance learning)
Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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36 points
RELS 341
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology

Open to all students with an interest in contemporary conspiracy theories.
May not be credited together with RELS 341. ​


Dr Deane Galbraith:

Teaching staff

Dr Deane Galbraith

Paper Structure

After an introduction to modern conspiracies, the paper explores what determines belief in conspiracy theories, and their relationship with religion and societal conflict.  Then we examine flat-earthism, climate skepticism, esotericism and conspirituality, Illuminati and the New World Order, New Zealand political and religious conspiracists, giants and aliens, antisemitism and Holocause denial, QAnon and Satanic Panics, white supermacist conspiracies, and the role of social media.

Teaching Arrangements

The Distance Learning offering of this paper is taught remotely.

Two one-hour lectures per week.

All lectures can be viewed either on-campus or by live streaming or lecture recording, each option available to both distance and on-campus students.


There is no required textbook for this paper. All readings are provided online.

Course outline

Click the link for a sample RELS241 course outline

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, RELS 241 students should be able to:

  1. describe and analyse roles that religion plays in various situations of social conflict;
  2. understand and explain the historical and social contexts of major contemporary conspiracy theories;
  3. acquire theoretical knowledge of major approaches to the study of religion, conflict, and conspiracy theory.

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system

Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 11:00-11:50 9-14, 16-22
Wednesday 11:00-11:50 9-14, 16-22