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Topics in the Sociology of Religion


Admission requirements

Students should have some basic knowledge of sociology of religion, preferably from a BA level sociology of religion course.
Students who have not followed a BA course in sociology of religion, but have taken similar courses (e.g. in comparative religion, anthropology, or sociology) may be admitted to the course on that basis. These students should contact the teacher in advance and be prepared to study some extra literature before the course starts to get up to speed.
A maximum of 20 students can follow the course.


In this course each student chooses one or two books to review within one of three fields in the sociology of religion: (1) method and theory, (2) religion and society, and (3) lived religion. The course has two main aims: that students acquire extensive knowledge about a particular field within the sociology of religion, and that they learn how to write a critical, academic review essay. The course includes independent work and peer-group cooperation, written assignments and oral presentation. Students work individually on their review essay throughout the semester and discuss their ideas and preliminary conclusions with their peers and the teacher at various stages of progress. Most sessions are seminars in which students present and critically evaluate key articles, followed by plenary discussion. We will also discuss how to write an academic review essay, and students receive feedback on a written draft half-way through the semester, both from the teacher and from their fellow students. The course is concluded with a “mini-conference” with presentation and discussion of the final reviews.

Course objectives

It is the aim of the course that,

  • students acquire an overview of the current state-of-the-art of the sociology of religion

  • students acquire extensive knowledge on a self-chosen topic within the sociology of religion

  • students develop their ability to critically analyse and evaluate the academic work of others

  • students develop their skills at academic writing, peer feedback, oral presentation, and discussion

  • students develop a sophisticated level of sociological questioning and reasoning about religion, appropriate for writing their master thesis



Mode of instruction


The first eight sessions consists of a combination of (a) lectures introducing the course and the three themes, (b) seminars in which students present and evaluate key articles followed by plenary discussion, and © tutorials on writing reviews. Students also report on the progress of their papers. Following a writing break, two sessions are then devoted to giving feedback on a first draft of the review. The course is concluded by a mini-conference mid-December. Before the conference, everybody reads the papers of their co-students. At the conference, each student in turn gives a presentation which is followed by discussion.

Course Load

10 ects x 28 h/ects = 280 hours
Time spent on regular meetings: 10 × 2 = 20 hours
Time spent on shared reading assignments: c. 402 pages / 7 p/h = 56 hours
Time spent preparing brief oral presentation: 8 hours
Time spent on small tasks, including preparing presentation of chosen book, preparing initial bibliography, preparing giving feedback on other students’ drafts = 16 hours
Time spent attending conference in September = 12 hours
Time spent attending final mini-conference, preparing own oral presentation, and reading the final papers of (some of) the other students = 28 hours
Time spent studying two chosen books (each c. 245 pages) or one long book: c. 490 pages / 7 p/h = 70 hours
Time spent writing review article: 70 hours

Assessment method

The final mark will be a weighted average of two marks:
(1) Oral presentation of article, active participation in class, self-evaluation of review draft, quality of peer review, and participation at mini-conference: 40%.
(2) Final review: 60%.

To pass the course, students must obtain at least a sufficient mark (6,0) in both sub-tests.


The course makes use of Blackboard. All communication will take place via Blackboard, additional information about the course will be available via Blackboard, and assignments must be handed in via Blackboard.

Reading list

No text book will be used for the course. Master copies of articles and book chapters for the course will be made available for students to copy individually. More information about the readings follows on Blackboard in August.


Via uSis
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in Blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


The course is taught in English.