BA Comparative Religion and Social Anthropology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to the Study of Religions and Theology

Course unit fact file
Unit code RELT10311
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Religions & Theology
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course will introduce students to key concepts in the study of Religions and Theology through an examination of a range of religious figures across traditions. The first weeks of the course introduce key theoretical elements to the study of religion, as well as providing a grounding in important academic skills. Subsequent lectures examine significant themes such as religion and politics, religious conversion, suffering, and the idea of selfhood, through studies of the life and thought of influential figures from different traditions. Students will have the opportunity to learn about a range of approaches and traditions, and the course is delivered by a number of lecturers, each teaching on their specialist subject.


  • To introduce students to a selection of influential thinkers and their works in religious thought.
  • Introduce students to key questions and problems that arise from the academic study of a range of religious traditions.
  • Enable students to make the transition into higher education by developing their study and other transferable skills (finding information, efficient reading, learning to think critically, working in groups, etc.).
  • Provide a range of methods of teaching in recognition of different learning styles and experience.
  • Help students to learn how to stand back from their own positions in trying to understand others and to enable them to reflect on their own learning.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students should be able to:

  • Be aware of some of the intellectual history of religious ideas.
  • Understand and articulate some key concepts, questions and problems which are raised by religious thought.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of key thinkers across a range of religious traditions.
  • Think critically about issues surrounding the study of different religious traditions

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students should be able to:

•          Provide analyses of primary sources from a range of religious traditions.

•          Use existing knowledge to assess the cogency and coherence of the arguments of others.

•          Develop and present a coherent argument with appropriate use of evidence and awareness of a range of alternative views.        

•          Have developed written and oral skills of communication in starting to structure essays, listening and putting forward students’ own view.


Practical skills

By the end of this course students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with library and other information resources at Manchester.                                                                  
  • Evaluate, organise and present complex material, both primary and secondary.                                                                                          
  • Demonstrate consistency and rigour in method and argument.
  • Exercise some autonomy in the management of your own learning.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students should be able to:

•          Communicate clearly in written and oral forms.

•          Evaluate your own position in trying to understand others and reflect on your own learning.

•          Participate appropriately in a learning group.

•          Display an understanding of diverse religious viewpoints.

Employability skills

Group/team working
¿ team work ¿ recognising and identifying views of others and working constructively with others
¿ capacity for self-appraisal, reflection and time management

Assessment methods

Essay Plan 0%
Presentation 20%
Essay 80%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written Feedback on Essay Plan


Written Feedback on Presentation


Written Feedback on Essay




Recommended reading

Willi Braun and Russell McCutcheon (eds), Guide to the Study of Religion (London: Continuum, 2000).

Scott G. Brown, A Guide to Writing Academic Essays in Religious Studies (London: Continuum, 2008).

John Hinnells (eds), Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion (London: Routledge Press, 2009).

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Holly Morse Unit coordinator

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