The Religious Studies Department offers undergraduate students the option of taking a minor, major, or honours. Up-to-date information about program requirements and course prerequisites can be found in the Academic Calendar.


MINOR in Religious Studies is 24 credits earned as follows:


from the Humanities 1600 Series


from Religious Studies at the 2000 level


from Religious Studies at the 3/4000 level, chosen in consultation with the Program Advisor


MAJOR in Religious Studies is 60 credits earned as follows:


from the Humanities 1600 Series


RELG 2401, 2411, 2521, 2801, 2811, 2821, 2831, 2841


RELG 3901


from RELG 3001 or 3101


from RELG 3301 or 3311


from RELG 3501, 3601,3701


from 3/4000 level Religious Studies courses, with at least 6 from 4000 level Religious Studies courses


credits from complementary courses in Arts and Letters, Humanities and Social Sciences (which may include upto 6 additional credits from 2000 level Religious Studies courses if the Humanities 1600 series courses above are from other Humanities disciplines), chosen in consultation with the Program Advisor


An honours program is available in religious studies. The program is an opportunity to do a sustained and in-depth research project in an area of student interest while being supervised by a faculty member. This involves writing a thesis in the final year of study and is the equivalent of taking two 3-credit courses.

Eligible students in their third year of a religious studies major must meet the following criteria:

  • maintain an average GPA of 3.0
  • consult with the program advisor
  • consult with the supervising faculty member

In their third year, interested students should reflect on their studies to date and come up with their own idea for a project. They may choose from a broad range of possible subjects. Students should then approach their preferred faculty supervisor for guidance. A written proposal is due at the end of the winter term of the third year. Research might begin as early as the summer before fourth year.

Program advisor

A program advisor meets with current and potential students to explain different course options. The program advisor for Religious Studies is Dr. Barbra Clayton.


Courses in religious studies cover a wide range of areas, from in-depth study of specific traditions (e.g., Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity) to focused exploration of religion’s intersections with culture, history of religious thought, environmental ethics, material culture, and more.

Introductory courses (at 1000 and 2000 level) lay the foundation for later, more advanced study of particular traditions. These introduce students to broad themes that are encountered in many Humanities disciplines, such as sexuality or death (the 1600-level humanities courses). 2000-level courses begin conversations for students with the key methods and approaches that we use in our program (e.g., philosophy of religion, textual study, material culture). Advanced courses at the 3000 and 4000 level allow students to explore more focused areas that often connect with a number of traditions, such as film, religion and violence, pilgrimage, environmental ethics, theological thought, postcolonialism, and mythologies and sacred space.

In recent years, the Department has also developed a new program in Community-engaged learning. This allows students to explore some of what they have been learning around the themes of equity, diversity and social justice in an applied way in our local communities. Many Faculty from the religious studies program also teach in this area, running long term projects in such areas as sustainable communities, climate change education, literacy and educational reform.

See the Academic Calendar for specific course requirements or Self Service for class times. The focus of this year’s individual courses can be found below. All courses are worth 3 credits.

Visit the Community Engaged Learning webpage for CENL course descriptions.

Fall 2024 Courses

CENL/RELG 1001: Intro to Compassionate Communities
Dr. Leslie Shumka
​​​​What does a compassionate community look like and could it become a model for addressing social injustices such as the poverty, housing insecurity, and loneliness in our midst? We’ll discuss how understanding compassion more fully and using it as a driver of social action we are able to transform our communities for the benefit of all members. 

RELG 1611: Global Religions II
Dr. Fiona Black

This course pursues answers to the question: Why does learning about religion matter for daily life, academic study, travel, careers within one's home community or far beyond? It does so through the study of texts, beliefs, stories and practices connected with the so-called Abrahamic traditions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as New Religious Movements and Indigenous ways of knowing. This course explores how the phenomenon of religion infuses our lives, shaping the ways we interact, informing how we view of each other and of the world around us. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) (Exclusion: RELG 2201, 2801)

RELG 1661: Religion and Popular Culture
Dr. Andrew Wilson

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. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours)

RELG 2411: Mother Earth, Father Sky 
Dr. Barbra Clayton

This course employs experiential and project-based learning to explore the deep roots of the environmental crisis in the western religious and scientific worldviews, and then looks at alternate ways of conceiving and acting on the human relation to nature, focusing on Asian and indigenous views.


RELG 2811: Intro to the Bible I: Hebrew 
Dr. Fiona Black

This is not your old-fashioned Bible course! If you are interested in understanding the historical backdrop of the Bible's creation, its amazing literary features and the way it has been used by different groups over time in politics, culture and various faith communities--then join us. The course combines lecture with tutorials that train students in the complexities of interpretation.

RELG 3101: Buddhism
Dr. Barbra Clayton

How does Buddhist philosophy look in practice? What can we learn about Buddhism today by comparing medieval Chinese and Indian Buddhism? In this course students will explore these questions by taking on the persona of someone in the community of Nalanda University in 7th century India. Nalanda represents a peak centre for Buddhist education in medieval India. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) (Exclusion: RELG 3271)

RELG 3701: Islam

This course traces Islam from its origins in the life and activities of Mohammed through to contemporary world Islam and its diverse responses to the challenges of "modernity" and the West. The world view, institutions, rituals, and practices of Islam will be studied within these changing historical and cultural contexts. Effort will be made throughout to gain insight into the religious, spiritual impulses which animate Islam and unite devout Muslims. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) (Exclusion: RELG 3291)

RELG 4611: Reinventing the Sacred
Dr. Andrew Wilson

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. [Note 1: Permission of the Department is required.](Format: Seminar 3 Hours)

Winter 2025 Courses

RELG 1641: Religion, the Body, and Sexuality

This course investigates the role the human body plays in the world's Western religious traditions (predominantly Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), namely, how the body affects or facilitates worship of the divine and what the related rites, practices, and texts have to say to us as physical beings. It considers such issues as bodily functions, gender roles, and sexual orientation. The course pays considerable attention to the intersections of religion and culture as they inform what it means to be an embodied believer. It also considers why the human imagination seems to need to conceive the divine in bodily form. Format: Lecture 3 Hours Exclusion: Any version of RELG 1641 previously offered with a different title.

RELG 1681: The Quest for Enlightenment: The Search For Perfection in Asian Religions
Dr. Barb Clayton

What is the best life one can live? And what roles do yoga, meditation, Qigong, and other contemplative bodily practices play in this context? Learning with experts from within and beyond our community, members of this experiential learning course will pursue these questions as we work together to understand diverse Asian religions' imaginings of the good life.

RELG 2541: Sacred Stuff

This course explores relationships between material culture and religion. It is built around the hands-on study and analysis of diverse objects and the exploration of scholarship investigating the ways "sacred stuff" matters to religious practice and belief. These include jewelry, woodblock prints, musical instruments, and icons. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) (Exclusion: RELG 2991 Sacred Stuff)

RELG 2831: Faith and Doubt
Dr. Andrew Wilson

This course introduces the disciplines of theology and philosophy of religion within the Western theistic (Jewish/Christian) tradition. It considers the sometimes ambivalent relationship between reason and religious experience. Topics include rational proofs for the existence of God, religious self-understanding, the problem of evil, and the relationship between religious belief and scientific reason. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) (Exclusion: RELG 2501)

RELG 3301: Religions of China

This course will study the religious traditions of China, examining the basic ideas and concepts underlying Chinese religion and the ways in which these ideas were implemented. The course will look in detail at both Confucianism and Daoism, at Chinese folk religion, and at the adaptation of Buddhism to China. It will conclude with an evaluation of the current state of religion in China. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours)

RELG 3411: Gender Issues in Eastern Religions
Dr. Barbra Clayton

This course examines the role that gender plays in the context of myths, scriptural texts, rituals and doctrine, in the major religious traditions of the East. It examines such matters as sexuality and sexual orientation, the body, feminism and other critical approaches, political rights and responsibilities, access to religious experience, and spiritual leadership. (Format: Seminar 3 Hours)

RELG 3681: Identity and the Maker
Dr. Andrew Wilson

This course examines religious and cultural notions of identity via the creative arts and cultural practices of making and crafting. The course presents typical ways that theology and philosophy attempt to account for human experience and self-understanding, contrasting them with the radical and often marginal transformations that might be explored through creative material and cultural practice. Through scholarly discourse as well as concrete creative applications students will have the opportunity to consider the many ways in which the human experience and the quest for meaning and expression are paralleled and mediated by traditions, practices and materials associated with craft. (Format: Seminar 3 Hours)

RELG 3811: Gender Issues in Western Religions
Dr. Fiona Black

This course examines the role that gender plays in the context of myths, scriptural texts, rituals and doctrine, in the major religious traditions of the West. It examines such matters as sexuality and sexual orientation, the body, feminism and other critical approaches, political rights and responsibilities, access to religious experience, and spiritual leadership. (Format: Seminar 3 Hours)

RELG 4411: Advanded Studies in Eastern Thought
Dr. Barbra Clayton

This course focuses on the philosophical traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. It examines both classical systems of thought and their modern interpretations. [Note 1: Permission of the Department is required.] (Format: Seminar 3 Hours)