Current Course Offerings

2023 - 2024 Course Offerings

The following undergraduate courses are planned for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Full Year Courses

RELS 131 World Religions/Religious Worlds **Offered through Arts and Science Online**

In this course students will study some of the world’s major religions, all the while keeping in mind the challenges that come with critically engaging the category “religion.” Studying religion allows students to engage with philosophy, history, literature, politics, fine art, and sociology, and this course gives students the opportunity to begin, at an introductory level, the process of understanding how world religions have both been shaped by and continue to shape global cultures. This course will examine six of the world’s religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, the religions of China, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It will primarily consider these religious traditions in their historical context, looking carefully at their origins, sacred literature, and ritual life, though at times we will consider selected contemporary issues that highlight different religions’ response to modernity. Please note that this course does not include all world religions on account of time and space. Instead the course examines six of the major world religions and introduces a critical framework with which to further study religion in future courses.Students will engage with the course material through online course notes, readings, and multimedia resources.A major advantage of this course is that it fosters learning through both independent study and through small-group learning activities. Students will have access to the instructor and teaching team for individual questions and support.

RELS 131 World Religions/Religious Worlds 

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


Fall 2023 Courses

RELS 140/3.0 Religion and Science

This course examines the categories of both science and religion and attempts to explore the possible relationships between them. Case studies involve: medicine and health, relationships with other animals, concepts of human nature, super/natural ontologies, and science-and-technology-based religions.

RELS 202/3.0 Traditions in Religious Studies - Mindfulness

This course offers a comprehensive exploration of mindfulness within the context of Buddhism and Hinduism. Combining theoretical knowledge and experiential practices the course delves into understanding current applications of stress management, self-awareness, loving kindness, and compassion. Furthermore, the course will explore integration of mindfulness into daily life, work-life balance and overall wellbeing.

RELS 209/3.0 Radical Jews

This course examines the life and work of Jewish radical thinkers: analysts, anarchists, communists, feminists, environmentalists, and anti-nationalists. We will be interested both in the ways they created difficulties for dominant cultural and political institutions, and traditional Jewish authorities.

RELS 240/3.0 Magic, Witchcraft, and the Supernatural

Studies the differences between the categories of religion, magic, witchcraft, the supernatural, etc., as constructed in scholarship, popular culture, and practice. Focuses on examples such as New Religious Movements, depictions of magic in film and TV, and moral panics over alleged occult practices, and the histories that let us make sense of them.

RELS 242/3.0 Objects in Global Indigenous Spirituality

The course addresses the sacred or profane status of objects in Indigenous cosmologies. What they are, mean, and do, and how Indigenous persons position themselves in relation to them. This leads to reflections on the object/subject division, the condition of materiality and immateriality, and the resulting nature of spirits in Indigenous worlds.

RELS 321/3.0 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 326/3.0 Religion and Politics in Muslim Societies

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

RELS 342/3.0 Indigeneity and Nature

The seminar deals with the knowledges and practices through which Indigenous peoples conceptualize and approach what the West calls "Nature". Applying their underlying principles, we further analyze contemporary initiatives to promote interspeciesism, and to grant rights to Nature and legal personhood to different elements of the environment.

RELS 354/3.0 Theory in Religious Studies

An introduction to major theoretical approaches to the study of religion, and training in the critical reading and writing techniques needed for religious studies.

RELS 398/3.0 Jewish Cultural and Political Thought

The development of modern Jewish 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.


Winter 2024 Courses

RELS 137/3.0 Religion & Film

This course will explore how religion is portrayed in film, noting particularly the depiction of religious belief, practices, practitioners, and institutions, and the use of religious symbols and metaphors.

RELS 201/3.0 Topics in Religious Studies I - Leonard Cohen and Religion 

This course explores how Leonard Cohen’s songs reflect his lifelong interest in an array of religious and mystical texts and ideas from Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim traditions. NOTE: This course is repeatable for credit under different topic titles.

RELS 205/3.0 Religion Meets Empire: Global Perspectives **Offered through Arts and Science Online**

Religion and other belief systems played a crucial role in governing empires, ranging from homogenization to accepting diversity - and even to both approaches or strategies in the same empire. This course critically assesses constructions of "religion" as a category and concerning inequality and diversity in global history. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100-level in RELS.

RELS 206/3.0 Drugs and Religion

This course explores the role of mind/body-altering substances in religions; as things claimed to be of spiritual significance; and as the objects of a fervor (today's "psychedelic renaissance") that we religion scholars can analyze as a new religious movement. It attends to western appropriation of plants and fungi sacred to Indigenous peoples.

RELS 223/3.0 Buddhism

Buddhism in India, the life and teaching of Gautama the Buddha, and the growth of the Theravadin and Mahayanist traditions.

RELS 236/3.0 Religion and Sex

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.

RELS 255/3.0 Research Methods in Religious Studies

An investigation into the techniques of critical reading and writing for research in Religious Studies.

RELS 257/3.0 Indigenous Sages and Wisdom

Following the specific roles usually associated with the category "shamanism", this course examines empirical accounts on the knowledges and practices of various types of spiritual specialists, such as sages, healers, diviners, priests, sorcerers, and mediums in Indigenous traditions in Canada and various regions of the world.

RELS 301/3.0 Themes in Religious Studies - Understanding Rituals

A topic of current interest in Religious Studies not covered in other available courses.
NOTE This course is repeatable for credit under different topic titles.

RELS 322/3.0 Yoga in India and the West

Surveys the history and philosophy of yoga in India and the West.
NOTE Yoga Practicum: estimated cost $90.

RELS 331/3.0 Religion and Violence

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

RELS 340/3.0 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 401 - Honours Seminar

Advanced seminar providing detailed reading of one contemporary theme or thinker in religious studies.