School of Religion

Religious Studies Courses at a Glance

Some courses offered by the School of Religion survey the major religious traditions of Europe, Asia and the Middle East in their cultural context, with in-depth study of traditions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Chinese Religions, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Indigenous Traditions.

Other courses examine the impact of Religion on a wide variety of cultural expressions including literature, film, the environment, violence, gender, politics, sex or sport. 

For a full list of RELS courses and the course description please see below. NOTE: Not all courses are offered every year. Please see the current course offerings page for an up to date timetable.

RELS 131/3.0 World Religions/Religious Worlds

Introduces religion in India, China and Japan; also the movements of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Humanism. NOTE Also offered online. Consult Arts and Science Online.

RELS 137/3.0 Religion and 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. EQUIVALENCY RELS 237/3.0 

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 162/3.0 Religion, News and Media

This course will identify and describe characteristics of religion as they appear in news reports of social, political, and economic aspects of public life and analyze how the news presents, shapes, and creates perceptions of religion in public discourse.

RELS 163/3.0 Religion and Popular Culture

This course will identify and describe characteristics of religion as they appear in popular culture (e.g. fashion; comics; movies; art; music; novels; sitcoms; dramas; video games) and analyze how such depictions present, shape, and create perceptions of religion in public discourse.

RELS 201/3.0 Themes in Religious Studies

A topic of current interest in Religious Studies not covered in other available courses. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100-level in RELS.

RELS 202/3.0 Traditions in Religious Studies

A topic of current interest in Religious Studies not covered in other available courses. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100-level in RELS.

RELS 210/3.0 Hebrew Bible

Introduction in the light of the political, cultural, and religious history of ancient Israel and Judah. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 212/3.0 Mythology of the Ancient Near East

Similarities and differences in the myths of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia will be explored on the basis of material remains (e.g., the pyramids and temple architecture) and texts. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 214/3.0 The New Testament

As religious literature expressing the witness to Jesus; and as source for the history, trends and problems of early Christianity. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 218/3.0 Christianity

Introduction to Christianity as a religious tradition through its texts, its history and its contemporary forms. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 221/3.0 New Religious Movements

All religions were once new, small, and unusual to the cultures around them - often therefore attracting suspicion. This course examines the practices, beliefs, and histories of several NRMs, and why some gain legitimacy while others get derided as "cults." Doing so illuminates broader processes like mythmaking, Othering, and (de)secularization. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 222/3.0 The Hindu World

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). PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

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. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 224/3.0 Taoism

The philosophy, worldview, spirituality and ethics of Taoism, China’s organized indigenous religion, in Chinese history and in the contemporary world. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 226/3.0 Islam

Historical and topical survey of Islam, its development through the study of its rise, institutionalization of its beliefs and practices, formation of its theology, law, mysticism; as well as its modern interpretations and practices. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 227/3.0 Indigenous Traditions in North America

Introduction to the study of Indigenous traditions in North America. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 228/3.0 Sages, Scholars and Rabbis

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. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 229/3.0 Confucianism

The philosophy, worldview, spirituality and ethics of Confucianism in its classical, modern and contemporary forms. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 232/3.0 Religion and Social Movements

This course will examine the field of social movement studies, with a particular focus on how religion has played a role in the rise of social movements, how religious communities have been influenced by social movements, and how mobilization and activism around social justice issues is colouored by religion and culture. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 234/3.0 Judaism

An introduction to the self-definition of Judaism through an analysis of the concepts of God, Torah and Israel past and present. Also, a preliminary study of the struggles facing Jews in Europe, the State of Israel and North America. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 235/3.0 Religion and Environment

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. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

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. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 239/3.0 Religion and Sport

This course will provide an overview of the relatively new and expanding body of research that examines the relationship between sport, spirituality and religion. Topics including play, games, flow, ritual, prayer, sports stars as role models, doping, fandom and miracles in sport will be explored. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

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. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 250/3.0 Mythology of Heroes, Heroines and Saints

Their place in religious consciousness with a variety of examples. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 252/3.0 Mysticism

The academic study of mysticism; mystical movements; and mystics. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 255/3.0 Research Methods in Religious Studies

An investigation into the techniques of critical reading and writing for research in Religious Studies. EQUIVALENCY RELS 355/3.0. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 266/3.0 Religion and Social Ethics

Moral problems and religious responses: e.g., sexual morality; violence; civil disobedience. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 296/3.0 Islam in Canada

This course examines the historical and contemporary expressions of Islam in Canada. Starting from early Muslim migrants to Canada to current issues of media representations, Islamophobia, and gender and sexuality, as they are unfolding in Canadian contexts for Muslims. PREREQUISITE Level 2 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 301/3.0 Themes in Religious Studies

A topic of current interest in Religious Studies not covered in other available courses. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 302/3.0 Traditions in Religious Studies

A topic of current interest in Religious Studies not covered in other available courses. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 312/3.0 Christian Feminist Theology

Issues raised by the feminist critique of traditional Christian theology and feminist attempts at theological reconstruction. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

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. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

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 $85. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

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. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 328/3.0 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. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 331/3.0 Religion and Violence

Links between violence and religious beliefs, practices and institutions; for example, sacrifice, holy wars, scapegoating, and suicide. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 332/3.0 Race, Ethnicity, and Religion

The course will explore the intersection of race, ethnicity, and religion, alongside gender, sexuality, culture and more. It will challenge students to think about how racial identities, theories, and movements implicate(d) the way religious communities construct their own systems and worldviews. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 334/3.0 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. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

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. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 341/3.0 Spirituality, Secularity, and Nonreligion

A study of concepts intended to summarize positions which are necessarily defined in reference to religion but considered to be other than religious. We explore the origins and presents of perspectives and experiences including the secular, spiritual-but-not-religious, atheistic, and other forms of imitation, indifference, and hostility to religion. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 345/3.0 Religion and Art

An examination of discursive, historiographical, and affective aspects of a variety of historical and contemporary artistic expressions (e.g., painting, sculpture, video) through the lens of Religious Studies. NOTE Field trip: estimated cost $38. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 354/3.0 Theory in Religious Studies

An introduction to major theoretical approaches to the study of religion. PREREQUISITE Level 3 and 6.0 units at the 200 level in RELS. EXCLUSION(S) RELS 353/6.0

RELS 367/3.0 Religion and Biomedical Ethics

The aim of this course is to provide an overview of some ethical issues that arise at the intersection of biomedicine and religion. These ethical issues include moral distress, consent, beginning of life issues, indigeneity and healing, medically assisted death, gene editing, and anti-aging interventions. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS EQUIVALENCY RELS 268/3.0

RELS 368/3.0 Religion and Business Ethics

Students will develop background knowledge and analytic skills necessary to identify and negotiate religious commitments in business relationships and resolve ethical issues around the role of religion in business contexts. We will analyze case studies to explore various ways in which business practitioners can and do address questions arising in everyday interactions in the business world. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 385/3.0 Religious Fundamentalisms

Religious fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon not exclusive to any religion. In the past few decades, religious fundamentalist movements have been shaping new social,cultural and political norms in a predominately secular age. The course explores theoretical aspects and examines specific case studies across various religions and cultures. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 393/3.0 Buddhism in the Modern World

Encounter between Buddhism and the West, major movements and thinkers, and socio-politically engaged Buddhism. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 394/3.0 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 religions and ideologies including Daoism and Confucianism. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 396/3.0 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. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 398/3.0 Judaism in the Modern Age

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. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above or 6.0 units at the 100 level in RELS.

RELS 401/3.0 Honours Seminar

Advanced seminar providing detailed reading of one contemporary theme or thinker in religious studies. PREREQUISITE Level 4 and registration in a RELS Major or Medial Plan and a GPA of 2.6 in 24.0 units in RELS. COREQUISITE [RELS 354/3.0 and (RELS 255/3.0 or RELS 355/3.0)] or RELS 353/6.0.

RELS 452/3.0 The Contemporary Religious Situation

Religion in modernity; traditional groups, newer religious movements, contemporary ideologies and social trends of religious significance. PREREQUISITE Level 3 or 4 and registration in a RELS Major or Medial Plan. COREQUISITE [RELS 354/3.0 and (RELS 255/3.0 or RELS 355/3.0)] or RELS 353/6.0. EXCLUSION(S) RELS 451/6.0

RELS 501/3.0 Directed Special Studies I

Reading courses on topics not covered in other available courses, arranged with individual members of the Department. PREREQUISITE Level 4 and registration in the RELS Major Plan and permission of the Department.

RELS 502/3.0 Directed Special Studies II

Reading courses on topics not covered in other available courses, arranged with individual members of the Department. RELS 502/3.0 may be taken independently or as a continuation of RELS 501/3.0. PREREQUISITE Level 4 and registration in the RELS Major Plan and permission of the Department.