School of Religion

School of Religion

School of Religion

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Twelve-month M.A. Program in Religious Studies

The program requires a total of 24 units, including RELS-801 and RELS-802 (Core Courses) and RELS-898 (Master's Essay). At least 6 units must be taken from the lists of Elective Courses and Reading Courses. Of these, at least 3 units must be chosen from the list of Elective Courses. Of the 24 units taken for the degree, no more than 6 units may be selected from the Reading Course list.

Students who have not completed in their undergraduate programs the equivalent of the Queen's University course RELS-854 "Theory in Religious Studies" will be required to take RELS-854 in addition to the required 24 units.

Not all of these courses are offered in any given year. Find out about our current courses and about requirements for the Master's Essay.

Language Requirement

Before completing the M.A. degree, students are required to give evidence of a reading knowledge of at least one language, in addition to English, elected from the languages of modern scholarship and/or necessary source languages. Normally, this requirement will be satisfied by undergraduate standing in a 6 unit course or equivalent, Ontario Academic Credit, or the equivalent.

Course Requirements

Required Courses

RELS-801 Core Course I: Religion and Modernity

Examines the nature of religious transition in response to various pressures for religious change.

RELS-802 Core Course II: Theory and Method in Religious Studies

Looks at recent articulations and applications of theories and methods in Religious Studies.

RELS-898 Master's Essay

The Master's Essay must demonstrate appropriate competence in the application of theoretical and methodological approaches to religion with respect either to a suitable research topic in the study of religion. The Master's Essay will not be subject to an oral defence but will normally be read by one member of the department in addition to the essay supervisor.

Elective Courses

Two of these courses will be offered each year.

  • RELS-808 Readings in Religion I

  • RELS-809 Readings in Religion II

    Advanced seminar providing detailed reading of one contemporary theme or thinker in Religious Studies.

  • RELS-884 Feminist Studies and Religious Studies

    Examination of feminist theory and its application to the study of religion.

  • RELS-885 Religious Fundamentalisms

    Explores theoretical aspects of religious fundamentalisms as a response to modernity, as well as specific case studies.

  • RELS-886 Religion, Nature and Technology

    Examines the connections between the secularization of religion, the disenchantment of nature, and the rise of technology in the modern period.

  • RELS-887 Problems in Ancient Mediterranean Religions

    An interdisciplinary study of the religions and mystical traditions of Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures from the Bronze Age to Late Antiquity.  Topics will vary according to instructor.  The course will have special regard for, but not be limited to, the Levant, and the Greek and Roman world.

Reading Courses

These courses will be offered concurrently with a linked undergraduate course. A maximum of 6 units from this list is permitted for the M.A. M.A. students will be required to attend classes with the undergraduate students but will have separate course requirements including additional readings and different assignments. They will also meet with the instructor on occasion separately from the undergraduate students.

RELS-806 Directed Special Studies I

Advanced seminar providing detailed reading of one contemporary theme or thinker in Religious Studies.

RELS-807 Directed Special Studies II

Advanced seminar providing detailed reading of one contemporary theme or thinker in Religious Studies.

RELS-810 Modern and Contemporary Christian Thought

Exemplary work in recent and contemporary Christian theology.

RELS-811 Jesus: The Continuing Historical Quest

This course provides an introduction to the methods and premises used in modern quest to understand the historical facts of Jesus life. Particular attention will be given to understanding the historical Jesus in his first-century socio-cultural context.

RELS-812 Christian Feminist Theology

Issues raised by the feminist critique of traditional Christian theology and feminist attempts at theological reconstruction.

RELS-821 Greek and Roman Religions

A study of the development and organization of non-civic religious associations in the Greek and Roman empires using inscriptions, papyri, and literary texts. Insight into religious practices of the Greco-Roman period comes through exploration of groups organized by deity, cult, occupation, or ethnic identity, and the so-called mystery religions.

RELS-822 Yoga in India and the West

Surveys the history and philosophy of yoga in India and the West.

RELS-824 Body, Mind and Spirit in Chinese Culture

Chinese cultural views of the body, mind and spirit and the connections between traditional Chinese medicine, philosophy and religion.

RELS-825 Religions of Japan

Shinto, Buddhism, and new religions in contemporary Japan, examined in terms of their central features and historical development.

RELS-826 Religion and Politics in Muslim Societies

Explores the role of religion in the politics of Muslim societies with a particular attention to the modern period.

RELS-827 Religions of Native Peoples

Features of and theories about religious life in small-scale traditional societies. Includes Canadian Indians and Inuit.

RELS-828 Interpretation of Apocalyptic Literature

The primary focus of the course will be the theological perspectives and social functions of apocalyptic in select religious traditions. The course will also survey the appropriation of apocalyptic themes throughout history in artistic forms such as art, fiction, and film, with particular attention to our modern times and cultures.

RELS-831 Religion and Violence

Links between violence and religious beliefs, practices, and institutions; for example, sacrifice, holy wars, scapegoating, and suicide.

RELS-832 The Goddess

Examination of Goddesses in various religious traditions, both ancient and contemporary.

RELS-834 Jewish Views of the Other

A study of the tensions that come into play as Jews formulated views of the Other to balance co-existence with them. Source materials include authoritative writings of Jewish commentary and law and social scientific views of them.

RELS-840 Religion and Democracy

Deals with the role of religion in the public sphere and its relation to liberal democracy. It examines the (in)compatibility of some tenets of certain religions with modern democratic principles.

RELS-852 The Contemporary Religious Situation

Religion in modernity; traditional groups, newer religious movements, contemporary ideologies and social trends of religious significance.

RELS-854 Theory in Religious Studies

An introduction to major theoretical approaches to the study of religion.

RELS-864 Comparative Religious Ethics

Ethics in religious traditions; how and why systems differ. Both general concepts and specific problems are considered.

RELS-893 Buddhism in the Modern World

Encounter between Buddhism and the West, major movements and thinkers, and socio-politically engaged Buddhism.

RELS-894 Religion and Politics in Contemporary China

Examines Chinese and foreign religions in mainland China from 1949 to the present day. Topics include the status of established religions, the political control of new religious movements and the resurgence of traditional Chinese religion and ideologies including Daoism and Confucianism.

RELS-896 Islam in the Modern World

Exploration of Islamic developments since the 19th century: major thinkers, trends of thought, and contemporary movements as responses to modernity.

RELS-897 Judaism in the Modern Age

The development of modern Jewish religious thought and practice, including the Reform, Orthodox, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements. The consequences of the Holocaust and the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

[Return to MA Program Requirements page]

Master's Essay


All M.A. students must complete a Master's Essay, a research paper of between 40 - 60 pages that demonstrates appropriate competence in the application of theoretical and methodological approaches to a suitable research topic in the study of religion.

Master's Essay Requirements (PDF, 128KB)

Essays Completed by MA Students in Religious Studies


Please see the School of Graduate Studies website for information and policies pertaining to all graduate students at Queen's.