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RELS415 Method and Theory in the Study of Religion

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Theories of religion in relation to society and the human mind; approaches to religion through cross-cultural study of some of its major elements such as myth, ritual and symbol.

This paper aims to equip students with a knowledge of the major theoretical approaches in the study of religion and an understanding of some of the principal topics that have defined the cross-cultural study of religion. The paper is required for Honours and is intended also to assist with selecting an approach to the topic studied for the dissertation.

Paper title Method and Theory in the Study of Religion
Paper code RELS415
Subject Religious Studies
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2020 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,142.40
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,661.93

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18 300-level RELS or RELX points
RELX 415
Limited to
BA(Hons), PGDipArts
Teaching staff
Lecturer: John Shaver
Paper Structure
The paper will proceed by discussion of selected readings, which will in part be chosen to reflect the interests of the students in the paper.

  • Class participation (10%)
  • Presentation (20%)
  • Two presentation responses (15%)
  • Essay (55%)
Teaching Arrangements
Weekly seminars (two hours) for both on-campus and distance students (via Zoom).
There is no textbook for this paper. Readings will be made available in class.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper should have a sound knowledge of
  • Key themes in the study of religion, such as sacrifice, magic, myth, ritual, symbol
  • Representative theories of religion arising from the anthropological and sociological study of religion
  • Debates surrounding the issue of objectivity in the study of religion

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Not offered in 2020

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