Religious Studies explores the many ways in which religion shapes culture and history, forms values, and authorizes human action.
The study of religion deals with the deepest and most basic questions of human existence: the meaning and purpose of life, relations with a divine presence and power, interpersonal relations and ultimate human destiny.
At a Glance
At Mount Allison, the Religious Studies program adopts a scholarly and analytical approach to the study of religious traditions — as such, it is open to students from all backgrounds, secular and religious.
Courses in Religious Studies at Mount Allison are divided into three streams:
- Eastern traditions — Hinduism, Buddhism, East Asian religions
- Western traditions — Judaism, Christianity, Islam
- Religion and culture
In Religious Studies you'll examine important texts, practices, cultural phenomena, and ideas, looking at them from the perspective of history, literature, philosophy, and culture.
Introductory courses lay the foundation for focused study of particular traditions and for upper-year courses that explore how religion relates to themes in the wider culture, such as in the arts, gender issues, and ethics.
Given the program’s interdisciplinary nature, you may also explore the connections between religion and subjects like:
- film and media studies
- contemporary politics
- literature, music, and art
- gender issues
- the environment
Religious Studies is available as:
- BA major (60 credits)
- BA honours (72 credits)
- Minor in any degree (24 credits)
RELG 1621 — Death and the Afterlife in Asian Religions
This course examines the practices and beliefs concerning death and the afterlife in six religious traditions: Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, 'folk' or 'popular' religion, Shinto, and Hinduism. It compares beliefs and practices related to death and the afterlife in these traditions and examines the diversity that exists both between and within these religions.
RELG 1661 — Religion and Popular Culture
This course examines various points at which religion and culture collide. It utilizes various media (film, music, fashion, literature) in order to interpret some of the complex relationships that form and maintain contemporary Western identity. Topics include cultural uses of religious symbolism and story, the power of popular piety, and the Western tendency towards consumption and commodification of religious traditions.
RELG 2521 — Food Practice and East Asian Religions
This course examines the practices and beliefs associated with food in five East Asian religious traditions: Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, 'folk' or 'popular' religion, and Shinto. It introduces religious prescriptions and prohibitions related to food cultivation, storage, distribution, preparation, and consumption. Topics include connections between food practices and hierarchy and the roles that food plays in creating and sustaining relationships such as those between humans, living and dead, and non-humans.
RELG 2841 — The Apocalyptic Consciousness
This course studies the apocalyptic consciousness in ancient documents and in modern thought, particularly with reference to ideas about the Day of Judgment and Second Coming. In addition to biblical and non-biblical texts, it reflects on contemporary portrayals of the apocalyptic image in art, literature and film, and explores the apocalyptic cult with specific reference to cults of expectation.
RELG 3481 — Religious and Spiritual Traditions in Canada
This course surveys the history of early religious and spiritual traditions in Canada from before the early global era to the mid twentieth century. It focuses on Indigenous, Christian, and Jewish traditions, but others are also included. Topics include influential individuals, writings, and institutions in relation to the state and public life, as well as newer themes from cultural and social history.
RELG 3911 — Contemporary Ethical Issues in Western Religions
This course considers the nature of ethics and explores some of the most prominent contemporary ethical issues, such as abortion, euthanasia, ecology, gay rights, racism, and sexism.
RELG 4611 — Reinventing the Sacred: Christianity in the Post-Secular West
This course considers the relationship between the Christian tradition and contemporary Western culture and looks at contemporary re-articulations of Christian beliefs, practices, and understandings. It examines from a cultural- critical perspective how thinkers have been forced to reformulate and modify traditional positions and beliefs in order to accommodate what are often vastly differing or at least unpredictable circumstances. This course considers how such innovations may reveal new ways forward in terms that are social, political, ethical, spiritual, and possibly even conventional. Ultimately it invites students to reflect on how these perspectives might enable the West to re-imagine its future possibilities in ways that are challenging and transformative for both the Christian tradition and Western identity.
Find a full list of religious studies courses in our Academic Calendar — Religious Studies.
Dr. Susan Andrews ('01)
Associate professor, Religious Studies
Whether you're entering the job market or continuing your education, your Mount Allison degree will stand out.
Mount Allison has been recognized by Maclean's as the top primarily undergraduate university in Canada more times than any other university.
With experiential learning and career development opportunities available in every degree, you'll also graduate with hands-on learning and on-the-job experience.
Our graduates also boast extraordinarily high acceptance rates to top graduate programs and professional schools such as law and medicine.
Popular career paths for Religious Studies graduates include:
- art dealer
- human resources specialist
- community development officer
- human rights advocate
- international development/aid worker
- foreign affairs specialist
- religious education administrator
I have been given some excellent opportunities for hands-on learning through research projects and interdisciplinary collaboration. I would recommend the English and Religious Studies programs to students who are interested in pushing the boundaries of their learning, and who want to challenge themselves to examine the literature and culture that surrounds them.
It wasn’t only the opportunity to challenge my previously held beliefs about religion, and either justify them or change them in the face of new and overwhelming evidence that drew me to the [Religious Studies] program, but the opportunity to learn from dedicated, passionate, and experienced academics in the field.
Religious Studies students have many opportunities to extend their learning outside the classrooms, including paid internships, research, teaching assistants, summer work, and field trips.
Arthur J. Ebbutt Memorial Trust for Religious Studies
The Department of Religious Studies benefits from the Arthur J. Ebbutt Memorial Trust, which sponsors:
- Ebbutt Reading Room — houses Religious Studies library resources
- Visiting lecturers
- Scholarships for upper-year students in Religious Studies
- Field trips