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BA Politics and Modern History

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Religion in Modern South Asian History

Unit code SALC10222
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Religions & Theology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit explores the religious traditions of South Asia in the context of developing modernity, with a particular focus on the region that is now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Rather than being focused on one religion, it looks at a range of Hindu, Islamic and Sikh traditions, asking how they were shaped by the colonial encounter with Britain in the 19th Century, and how they have developed in the post-colonial, contemporary period.  In the course of this historically- situated enquiry, key elements of these religious traditions will be examined, so that students will acquire a sound foundational knowledge of some of the key concepts that underpin Hindu, Muslim and Sikh worldviews as they have emerged in modern South Asia.  In the process, students will also gain knowledge and understanding of the modern history and culture of this critical area of the world, home to approximately a quarter of the world’s population.



  • To examine some key concepts in the development of modern South Asian religious traditions
  • To consider the significance of historical context to an understanding of these concepts
  • To develop skills of critical analysis through the examination of specific texts/events and their meanings
  • To develop skills of research and critical enquiry appropriate to the University learning environment


Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this unit students will

  • Have gained an understanding of some key concepts related to modern South Asian religious traditions
  • Be able to locate the development of these concepts in the context of social and political history


Intellectual skills

By the end of this unit students will

  • Have developed a critical awareness of the relationship between texts and contexts
  • Have developed an appreciation of the significance of conceptual interpretation as a feature of academic work
  • Have had experience of generating research questions as an integrated feature of the research process


Practical skills

By the end of this unit students will

  • Have developed skills of note-taking on the basis of critical engagement with academic texts
  • Have practiced discussion in small groups as a feature of the learning process


Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this unit students will

  • Have gained skills of critical analysis
  • Have gained a critical awareness of the development of religious traditions as a feature of the modern world


Employability skills

¿ Communication skills ¿ Research skills ¿ Political and cultural awareness

Assessment methods

Essay 0%
Essay 70%
Exam   30%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on the formative assignment


Written feedback on summative essay and exam


Oral feedback on summative essay question and plans




Recommended reading

  • Davis, R. (1995), ‘Introduction: A brief history of religions in India’, in D. Lopez (ed), Religions of India in Practice (Princeton: Princeton University Press)
  • Fuller, Christopher (2004), The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India (Princeton: Princeton University Press)
  • Hirst, Jacqueline, and John Zavos (2011), Religious Traditions in Modern South Asia, London: Routledge
  • King, Richard (1999), Orientalism and Religion (London: Routledge)
  • Knott, Kim (2016), Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
  • Mittal, S. and G. Thursby (eds) (2006), Religions of South Asia: an Introduction, New York: Routledge


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ketan Alder Unit coordinator

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