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RELS101 Introduction to Judaism, Christianity and Islam

An introduction to the three major religions which originated in the Middle East.

The paper aims to acquaint students with the key beliefs, practices and communities of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. We first examine the origins and historical development of the three religions, culminating in their encounters with modernity. We then explore a range of issues confronted in different ways by Jews, Christians and Muslims, including: views of the afterlife and End Times; interpretations of sacred texts; reasons for violence and fundamentalism; roles of women; Māori encounters with Christianity; and islamophobia.

Paper title Introduction to Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Paper code RELS101
Subject Religious Studies
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Semester 2 (Distance learning)
Semester 2 (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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RELX 101
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology

Dr Deane Galbraith:

Teaching staff

Dr Deane Galbraith

Paper Structure

After a brief methodological introduction, the first section of the paper outlines the origins and history of each of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, discussing and analysing key beliefs, practices and communities. The second, longer section of the paper offers a topical analysis of the three religions, critically examining their differing engagements with such issues as the afterlife, sacred texts, violence and fundamentalism, the role of women, Māori and Christianity, and Islamophobia.


  • Essay (1,500-2,000 words) 20%
  • Report 15%
  • Final exam 65%
Teaching Arrangements

The Distance Learning offering of this paper is taught remotely.

Campus: Lectures are held twice weekly (50 minutes each). In addition, there are six 1-hour tutorial sessions, which are conducted in small groups.

Distance: Recordings of the lectures will be available via Otago Capture. In addition, six online discussions will be set up so that distance students can converse about the materials and to allow monitoring and feedback of progress.


There is no textbook. A course outline will be available in print and PDF form. All readings for the paper will be made available on eReserve, which may be accessed via Blackboard.

Course outline
View sample course outline for RELS 101
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
Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to
  • Identify and discuss the principal beliefs characteristic of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
  • Identify and discuss the most common practices associated with each religion
  • Identify and discuss key moments in the historical development of all three traditions
  • Discuss some of the ways in which the adherents of each religion have responded to the challenges of modernity

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Semester 2

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

Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 11:00-11:50 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40