BA History / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to Judaism

Course unit fact file
Unit code RELT10192
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course introduces you to the study of the beliefs and practices of Judaism alongside non-religious Jewish identities, linking it to questions of ethnic and gender identity, tradition, religious communities and remembered history.


· To explore the main historical characteristics of Judaism, including its “religious” dimension, some of its practices and interactions with other cultural traditions· To introduce and critique various ways in which the academic discourse approaches Judaism and other culture

Teaching and learning methods

In the lecture the main topics and academic methodologies will be introduced and discussed. The readings relating to each lecture topic are discussed in the seminar of the week. You should prepare the lecture materials (available on Blackboard) and the reading in the days before the seminar. You will have an opportunity to introduce the seminar reading at group meetings, and contribute critically to the of every weekly theme. The reading assignments require regular work outside classes and in advance of the seminars, practicing a number of skills, including close study of assigned texts, note taking, summarizing and excerpting, and the creation of texts in note form. I will guide you through your preparation of the assessed Essay in a number of ways, including a formative exercise for which you will have feedback, formal advice in the lecture, a seminar meeting devoted to this, and documents on Blackboard.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Distinguish critically key trends and stages in of the historical development of Judaism
  • Provide a critical account of ways in which there is unity and diversity within Judaism
  • Consider the meaning of key ideas, and the texts and practices in which they function
  • Discuss critically how Judaism has related to other cultures
  • Identify and evaluate various approaches to the academic idea of “religion”

Intellectual skills

Students will have:

  • developed their ability to provide accurate accounts of information
  • enhanced their skill in assessing arguments critically
  • developed the skill to assess progress in their own learning
  • enhanced their skill in finding, evaluating, summarising technical information

Practical skills

  • listening and taking notes in lectures
  • time planning
  • using internet and physical information resources

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • communicate clearly in written and oral forms
  • participate appropriately in a learning group
  • self-motivation

Employability skills

Project management
· practise effective expression of ideas, as well as appropriate and accurate communication of information; · enhance their ability to recognise different perspectives while assessing critically the evidence for positions and arguments; · improve their ability find, evaluate, synthesize technical information from a variety of sources; · gain an awareness of the social and community contexts of the academic field of study.
Students will: · practice skills in the critical analysis of real world situations within a defined range of contexts; · demonstrate a degree of professionalism, including creativity, motivation, accuracy and self-management;

Assessment methods

Essay plan 0%
Essay 60%
Exam 40%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on the draft of an introduction


Written feedback on the Essay


Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour, or by making an appointment)


Written feedback on Exam




Recommended reading

  • P.S. Alexander, Textual Sources for the Study of Judaism (1984)
  • J.R. Baskin and K. Seeskin (eds), The Cambridge Guide to Jewish History, Religion, and Culture (2010)
  • D. Cohn-Sherbok, Judaism: History, Belief and Practice (2003)
  • N. De Lange, An Introduction to Judaism (2000, 20102
  • E. Segal, Introducing Judaism (2009)
  • N. Solomon, Judaism: A Very Short Introduction (1996, 20002)
  • A. Unterman, Jews: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices (1981)

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Alexander Samely Unit coordinator

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