World Religions/Religious Worlds

RELS 131/6.0

Introduces religion in India, China and Japan; also the movements of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Humanism.


Welcome to Religion 131, World Religions/Religious Worlds. In this introductory online religious studies course, I will present some of the global world religions to you, with the expectation that you will use these building blocks as the foundation for later, more specialized research into religions, philosophy, anthropology, science, politics--really, the list is endless!

There are certain things that this course isn’t, so let’s get that out of the way first. This course is not a complete and thorough history of all world religions. This is only one course and we must work within the limits of time and space. I will present to you a sampling of religious traditions, all of which contribute to that larger category of world religions, and hope that by introducing the history, beliefs, and practices of some of these traditions that you will be prepared to study the global world in a more critical and expanded way.

This course is also not a place for personal religious reflection. While I encourage you to take the material from the lecture notes, readings, or discussion groups and apply it to other areas of your life (because isn’t that in part what an education is supposed to do?), the goal of this course is to introduce the academic study of world religions. To this end I request that you do not use your assignments or discussion groups as a place to engage in personal religious dialogue.

So what is this course? It is a way for you to become familiar with Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. You will be introduced to each of these religions through their history, literature, world views, and ritual lives. You will gather information on each religion’s past and present, as we consider each of these traditions as histories and as lived traditions (which means that religions are made up of more than the ancient texts that we sometimes find at their centre). We take this time to encounter these world religions, because we live in a global world populated by millions of people whose world views are often informed by these very religions. We engage in the study of religion because we want to see the world with bigger eyes.


Discussion Forums20%
Contemporary Issue (Podcast) Reflection10%
Essay Assignment 115%
Essay Assignment 220%
Final Take-Home Exam35%


Introduction to Studying World Religions

Religions of India

  • Hinduism
    • Introduction
    • Religions of India
    • Dharma & Moksha
    • Discipline, Action & Devotion
  • Buddhism
    • Introduction, Objectives, Readings 
    • The Buddha
    • Theravada Buddhism 
    • Mahayana Buddhism 
    • Vajrayana, Tibetan and Western Buddhism

Religions of China

  • Introduction, Readings, Objectives
  • Daoism
  • Confucianism
  • Buddhist Traditions


  • Introduction, Objectives, Readings Biblical Judaism
  • Rabbinic Judaism
  • Judaism in Modernity  
  • Judaism: In practice


  • Introduction, Objectives, Readings
  • Jesus and the Early Church
  • The Roman Empire, and the Orthodox Church
  • Protestant Reformation and Global Christianity
  • Contemporary Christian Practices


  • Introduction, Objectives, Readings
  • Life of Muhammad and Foundations of Islam
  • Developing Traditions
  • Islam and Modernity


 Instructor PictureMy name is Danielle LaGrone and I have been teaching at Queen’s University since 2005. I did my undergraduate degree in Religion at Queen’s (2000) and then continued with my M.A. in religion at the University of Alberta (2003). I am currently a Ph.D Candidate at the Centre for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. I am most interested in studying how religions redefine their boundaries and reinterpret themselves in the face of contemporary challenges, such as feminism and globalization. My particular areas of research include contemporary Buddhism, feminism, and motherhood. In my graduate work I have studied ancient India and East Asia, including Sanskrit and Tibetan languages. I have published research on gender and Buddhism and co-edited a large volume of essays on women and religion. In addition to this introductory course on world religions, I have also taught courses in women and religion, and Buddhism. I am impressed by the opportunities that online learning affords students and I am eager to develop new ways of both presenting course material and supporting an interactive online community. In my courses I emphasize the value of learning to think critically about religion and using these critical perspectives as a springboard from which to engage with the world. I live near Toronto with my husband and two young daughters. When I am not teaching or writing, you will probably find me somewhere chasing after my children.

Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend, on average, about 10 - 12 hours per week on the course.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.


Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows XP/Vista/7, Pentium III, or Mac OS X 10.5, G4 or G5 processor, 256 MB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, and microphone, and up-to-date versions of free software (Explorer/Firefox, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Dates and Deadlines section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
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How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
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Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.