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Study Science of Religion at Otago

    Pursue scientific explanations for religious beliefs and behaviour

    Are you interested in how science can help us understand religion? Have you ever wondered why some people are religious, and others aren’t? Or whether religion affects a person’s mental and physical health?

    The scientific study of religion examines topics that are important locally and globally. A minor in the Science of Religion will allow you to explore experimental, cross-cultural and survey-based research design and learn how scientific methodologies can help us understand religious beliefs and behaviour.

    Why study The Science of Religion?

    Religion is a fundamental feature of human nature and exists in all human societies. Understanding religion will also be critically important in helping to solve many of the world's most pressing social issues. A scientific approach to the study of religion can increase our understanding of key aspects and concerns of human life.

    The Science of Religion minor will give you a general ability to understand and appreciate scientific research. The papers in this minor introduce hypothesis testing through a range of experimental, comparative and survey-based research designs. You'll discover what cutting-edge psychology experiments reveal about religious belief. You'll learn about the place of religion on diverse scales, from the context of human evolution to contemporary New Zealand. And you'll examine the future of religious belief and unbelief.

    This subject is a valuable addition to degrees across all university disciplines – Arts, Science, Health Sciences and Business.

    The Science of Religion at Otago

    Teaching style

    Students attend lectures and small-group tutorial sessions. For those who cannot study on campus, it is possible to take all Religion papers by distance study, regardless of where you live.

    Background required

    There are no prerequisites for this minor. All students are welcome.


    Science of Religion as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BCom, BEntr, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

    Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree


    RELS 110 Introduction to the Scientific Study of Religion
    One of:
    BIOA 101 Introduction to Biological Anthropology
    PSYC 111 Brain and Behaviour
    PSYC 112 Human Thought and Behaviour
    SCOM 109 Communicating Science: an Introduction
    STAT 110 Statistical Methods


    Above 100-level

    At least three papers from the following list, including at least one at 300-level:              HIST 229, RELS 217,  RELS 225, RELS 237, RELS 238, RELS 240, RELS 317, RELS 325, RELS 337, RELS 338, RELS 340





    More information

    Contact us

    Religion Programme
    School of Social Sciences

    Studying at Otago

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    Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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