Faculty of Arts & Science
A place to learn, discover, think and do.
Religious Studies at Queen's University

Religious Studies

Theological Hall
Room number: 
Department Head: 

Undergraduate Chair R. Ascough (July-Dec), W. Morrow (Jan-June)
Undergraduate Assistant:
Cheryl O'Shea
Graduate Assistant: Cheryl O'Shea

Religious Studies involves understanding the core values and beliefs that shape the world's cultures today. This involves examining the history of religious traditions, comparing the ideas and values of different religions, and understanding the function of religion in society. Students of religion use theories from anthropology, sociology, literary studies, and cognitive science to investigate why people are religious, where religion comes from, and how it should be defined and understood. Religious studies is multi-disciplinary in nature, global in scope, and uniquely focussed on one of the most intriguing aspects of the human experience.

We offer Minor, Medial and Major Plans for undergraduate students, a wide range of popular elective courses and a unique and innovative one-year MA Program in Religious Studies. We welcome students in our mission to advance knowledge of the world's religions and cultures at one of Canada's leading research universities.

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.

For a full list of Degree Plans, see the Academic Calendar

Graduate Degree Options

Religious Studies - MA

Courses Available to First-Year Students 2015-16

RELS131: World Religions/Religious Worlds (Full-year)
Introduces religion in India, China and Japan; also the movements of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Humanism.

RELS161: Contemporary Problems in Religion and Culture (Full-year)
Explores religious issues in culture, literature, politics and social ethics.

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.

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

  • Education
  • Commerce
  • International development
  • Public relations
  • Cultural affairs
  • Foreign service
  • Journalism
  • Work in religious communities
  • Social services

Career paths for Religious Studies grads handout from Career Services >

Religious Studies Electives for non-Religious Studies Students

First Year Students

The Department offers to first-year students two courses without prerequisite: RELS 131A&B World Religions/Religious Worlds and RELS 161A&B Contemporary Problems in Religion and Culture. Both have been devised with first-year students in mind, either as an elective or as the initial course in a Plan in Religious Studies.

All Other Students

Students in second, third or fourth level (including those in Faculties other than Arts and Science) are also welcome in the courses numbered RELS-131A&B World Religions/Religious Worlds and RELS-161A&B Contemporary Problems in Religion and Culture, but you should note that many courses in the Department have no prerequisites excepting second-year or third-year standing in the University. Very often these courses will prove to be better suited to the needs of upper-level students than the first-level courses. Students should note that work done in other departments often prepares them adequately for advanced courses in religious studies.

Religious Studies Research at Queen's

The School of Religion comprises eight tenured faculty who hold PhDs in religious studies or theology from top-ranked institutions. Most courses are taught by this core faculty, including introductory level courses. The School also employs adjunct faculty whose expertise supplements the core faculty. From time to time the school draws on expert faculty from other university departments for some courses. Teaching is supported by a team of well-trained and hard-working Teaching Assistants.

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 at the School of Religion undertake academic research into the religions and cultures of the world and religious issues emerging in the Canadian landscape, and have research links to universities globally.  Teaching and research range over some of the major religious traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, and focus on key geographic regions such as China, Europe, India, the Middle East, and North America.

In the past few years, faculty research and publications have included...

  • Gurus of Modern Yoga (edited by Ellen Goldberg and Mark Singleton, 2013)
  • Shattering Illusions: Child Sexual Abuse Policies and Canadian Religious Institutions (Tracy Trothen, 2012)
  • Associations in the Greco-Roman World: A Sourcebook (Richard S. Ascough, Philip A. Harland, and John S. Kloppenborg, 2012)
  • Women and Religious Traditions (Pamela Dickey Young and Leona Anderson, eds., 2nd edition, 2010)
  • 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)
  • Islam, Democracy and Religious Modernism in Iran 1953-2000: From Bazargan to Soroush (Forough Jahanbakhsh, 2001)

Have Questions?

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

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