Faculty of Arts & Science
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Religious Studies at Queen's University

Religious Studies

Location: 
Theological Hall
Room number: 
212
Telephone: 
Department Head: 
R.Ascough

Undergraduate Chair William Morrow
Undergraduate Assistant:
Linda Thomas
Graduate Assistant: Cheryl O'Shea

In today's world, religion is a crucial factor in many social and political situations.  Our programs of study at the School of Religion seek to foster knowledge and understanding of religion in its wide variety of global and local forms. At Queen’s students will learn a variety of approaches to the study of religion: historical, literary, philosophical, ethical and social-scientific. Students are encouraged to appreciate and respect different scholarly viewpoints, and different cultural, religious, and gender perspectives. Religious Studies will introduce students to methods for understanding them in their various cultural settings. Students will have opportunities to examine the status and roles of both women and men in religious contexts.

Approximately 1,500 students are enrolled in religious studies classes at Queen's. They come from every conceivable background, every faculty and every discipline. Religious Studies is at the forefront of humanities and social science education because it is interdisciplinary by nature. Whether you've studied English or Engineering you have something to contribute to our classes.

Degree Options

Bachelor of Arts (Honours) - BAH

Major in Religious Studies
A major is an intensive course of study in one discipline, with approximately half of your courses within the discipline with room for an optional minor in any other Arts and Science discipline.

Medial in Religious Studies
A dual course of study in Religious Studies and any other Arts discipline.

Minor in Religious Studies
A minor is a less intensive course of study in the discipline that must be combined with a major in another discipline.

Bachelor of Arts - BA

General in Religious Studies
A less intense course of study leading to a 3-year degree.

Full list of Undergraduate Degree Plans at Queen's University

Graduate Degree Options

Religious Studies - MA

First Year Courses

  • RELS 131/6.0 World Regligions/Religous Worlds
  • RELS 161/6.0 Contemporary Problems in Religion and Culture

Both courses offer students an introduction to Religious Studies.  Any student may take one or both of these courses irregardless of whether or not the student intends to pursue a Plan in Religious Studies.  Either of these courses is a good elective choice for any student in Arts or Science.  If undecided, choose the course that best suits your interests. 

What it takes to study Religious Studies in your second year >

Job and Career Opportunities for Religious Studies Grads

Religious Studies is increasingly important as awareness grows of the role of religions in a global context. There is a difference between studying religion and being religious. Interest in the study of religion does not presuppose affiliation with any particular religious institution. Concentrators in Religious Studies are introduced to a variety of religious traditions, an understanding of the place of the religious in various cultural settings, and an understanding of the status and roles of both women and men in relation to religious traditions. We present a variety of approaches to studying religion, e.g., historical, literary, philosophical, ethical and social scientific studies of religion. Religious studies is a teaching subject in Ontario schools.

Some of our Religious Studies grads work in in the following industries:

  • Advertising
  • Anthropology
  • Counselling
  • Cultural Studies
  • Ethics
  • Events Management
  • Education
  • Heritage & History
  • Human Resources
  • Human Rights
  • Immigration Services
  • Industrial Relations
  • International Development
  • Law
  • Lobbying
  • Management
  • Media – Electronic & Print
  • Mediation – Family & Labour Relations
  • Midwifery
  • Museology
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Public Administration, Policy & Service
  • Social Work
  • Theology
  • Urban and Regional Planning

Career paths for Religious Studies grads handout from Career Services >

Religious Studies Electives for non-Religious Studies Students

World Regligions/Religous Worlds RELS 131/6.
Introduces religion in India, China and Japan; also the movements of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Humanism.

Contemporary Problems in Religion and Culture RELS 161/6.0
Explores religious issues in social ethics, literature, and culture; e.g., liberation, sexuality and gender, the Holocaust, the environment, and the future of humanity. Topics for 2014-2015 will include religious fundamentalism, new atheism, and new religious movements. 

Hebrew Bible RELS 210/6.0
Introduction in the light of the political, cultural, and religious history of ancient Israel and Judah.

Hinduism RELS 222/6.0
Developments through 3,000 years of Indian history; the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga and Vedanta, mythology of Vishnu and Shiva and recent Hindu thinkers (e.g., Tagore, Aurobindo).

Islam RELS 226/6.0
Historical and topical survey of Islam, its development through study of its rise, institutionalization of its beliefs and practices, formation of its theology, law, mysticism; as well as its modern interpretations and practices.

Sages, Scholars and Rabbis RELS 228/6.0
The religious institutions produced by the Jews from the second to the seventh centuries. This course will explore in critical fashion the principal areas of rabbinic activity including: topics on jurisprudence, philosophy, social and political thinking, the role of tradition and scriptures.

Confucianism RELS 229/6.0
The philosophy, worldview, spirituality and ethics of Confucianism in its classical, modern and contemporary forms.

Religion and Environment RELS 235/6.0
Examines how religious traditions shape human values and behaviours towards the environment and how environmental problems are shaping the evolution of religious and spiritual traditions. This course fullfils the humanities requirements for Environmental Studies students.

Religion and Sex RELS 236/6.0
Views of and attitudes toward sexuality in selected world religions; the place of sexuality in religious traditions; relationship between sex and the sacred; specific topics such as marriage, gay and lesbian issues, contraception will be chosen.

Mythology of Heroes, Heroines and Saints RELS 250/6.0
Moral and religious norms of ethical judgment in bio-medicine; specific issues will be chosen such as population control, abortion, genetic control, experimentation, consent behaviour control, death and euthanasia.

Religious Studies Research at Queen's

The School of Religion is home to innovative research and publications in a wide range of fields. Faculty members have won significant grants from provincial, federal and international granting agencies to carry out leading-edge research on aspects of religion in the modern and ancient world. Our publications have also received critical acclaim and prestigious awards. In addition to the publications of faculty members, our master's students produce research essays on a diverse range of topics, some of them published in peer-reviewed journals.

The award-winning faculty and students at the School of Religion undertake academic research into the religions and cultures of the world and religious issues emerging in the Canadian landscape. Unique to Queen's University, the School houses experts on China, India and the Middle East, and has research links to universities across the world.

See some examples of faculty research and publications...

  • Women and Religious Traditions (Pamela Dickey Young and Leona Anderson, eds., 2nd edition, 2010)
  • Mind Behind the Gospels: A Commentary to Matthew Chapters 1-14 (Herb Basser, 2009)
  • The Way of Highest Clarity: Nature, Vision and Revelation in Medieval China (James Miller, 2008)
  • Protest Against God: The Eclipse of a Biblical Tradition (William Morrow, 2006)
  • Passionate Visonary: Leadership Lessons from the Apostle Paul (Richard Ascough, with Sandy Cotton, 2005
  • Linking Sexuality and Gender: Naming Violence Against Women in The United Church of Canada (Tracy Trothen, 2003)
  • The Lord who is Half Woman: Ardhanarisvara in Indian and Feminist Perspective (Ellen Goldberg, 2002)

Have Questions?

Call us at 613-533-2470 or email us.

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