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Core Course: Introduction to Religious Studies


Toegangseisen / Admission


Beschrijving / Description

The introductory course in Religious Studies will consist of two parts. In part one students will learn how the academic study of religion developed from the 19th century up till the present day. We will look at evolutionists like Tylor and Frazer, to the work of phenomenologists such as Van der Leeuw and Eliade, but most of all to the work of anthropologists as Malinowski, Evans-Pritchard, Clifford Geertz, Pierre Bourdieu, Pascal Boyer and others. At the same time students will see how theoretical ideas of classical scholars as Marx, Durkheim and Weber have influenced the study of religion up till now.
In part two we will study a few themes and case studies that are prominent in Religious Studies today. Next to magic and ritual, we will look into modern witchcraft and paganism. We will also study religious symbols and specialists, religious violence, secularism, and religious movements or cults. In all cases it will become clear that the study of religion is the study of society as well. In both parts of this course it will be made clear that the scientific study of religion focusses on questions concerning origin, function and meaning of religion; not on the truth of the different doctrines. At the same time it will become clear that studying the diversity between religions, the diversity within religions, and the integration of religion with its surrounding culture provides one with knowledge that might be useful to understand many of what is happening in today’s world.


Onderwijsvorm /Format


Studielast / Weight

2 × 12 = 24 hs.
Ca. 600 pp. = 116 hs.
Total: 140 hs. = 5 ects.

Toetsing /Examination

Written mid-term exam (40%), and written end-term exam (60%). Both exams consist of ten essay-questions each. Examples of the questions will be posted on Blackboard in due time.

Resit: A written exam with essay-questions.


In the course Blackboard will be used for presenting relevant study information, study materials, summaries, and announcements.


Jack D. Eller, Introducing Anthropology of Religion (New York & London, 2007)
Daniel L. Pals, Eight Theories of Religion, 2nd ed. (New York & Oxford, 2006)


Students are required to register through uSis.