BASS Politics and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Anthropology of Religion

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOAN20812
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


  • The Anthropology of Religion.
  • Definitions.
  • Religious knowledge and experience.
  • The making of religious subjects
  • The practice of religion
  • Debates in the anthropology of religion.


  1. To introduce students to the main anthropological approaches to the analysis of religion.
  2. To work with key anthropological texts on the topic of religion.
  3. To explore the production of religious subjects and subjectivities.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, successful students will be equipped with sufficient knowledge and skills to:

  1. Understand and engage with debates and literature in the anthropology of religion.
  2. Explore the place of religious practice and belief in social life.
  3. Undertake comparative analysis of ’religious’ phenomena, knowledge and practice.
  4. Engage critically with the ways in which religious subjects and subjectivities are produced and matter/are made to matter.

Teaching and learning methods

The course is ethnography-led with a strong focus on anthropological monographs (each student will read two monographs) to critically engage concepts and frameworks in the anthropology of religion - belief, ritual, practice, and materiality. There will be short lectures on the conceptual themes and discussions grounded in ethnographic texts.

NB. Every student will be required to read two monographs in full. The first will be read by the whole class in the first half of the semester. Student will choose one monograph from 3 choices to read in the second half of the semester.


Assessment methods

  • Mid-term assessment (voice/presentation based) - worth 30%;
  • Assessed essay at end of semester: 2500 words - worth 70%;

Feedback methods

Feedback will be available on Blackboard.

Recommended reading

These are general and introductory texts, which provide a good overview of the field:

Orsi, R A (ed). 2012. The Cambridge Companion to Religious Studies. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge

Lambek, Michael (ed.). 2002. A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion. Oxford: Blackwell

Morris, B. 2006. Religion and Anthropology: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Eller, Jack. 2007. Introducing the Anthropology of Religion. London: Routledge

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 9
Independent study hours
Independent study 171

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Soumhya Venkatesan Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Length of course: 12 weeks

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