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.

A-term and Fall 2023


A-Term 2023

RELG 2991P: Sacred Stuff
Dr. Susie Andrews

What does stuff do for us? This question lies at the heart of our RELG 2991 course. Combining the hands-on study and analysis of diverse objects (clothing, statuary, musical instruments, and talismans, for example) with the examination of key scholarship, class members will explore relations between material culture and religion.

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Fall 2023 

CENL/RELG 1001: 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 1641: Religion, the Body, and Sexuality
Instructor TBA

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 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 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.

RELG 3601: Christianity
Dr. Andrew Wilson

This course examines in detail the enormous breadth and richness of the Christian tradition, beginning with its historical and theological roots in the Jewish tradition and ending with some of the challenges faced in the contemporary world. It traces a path through key topics including theological thought, mystical experience, devotional practice, artistic expression, and ideological influence. The aim is to represent Christianity in its many facets and forms so as to appreciate its fundamental and ongoing significance in shaping Western cultural identity. Format: On-Campus Lecture 3 Hours Prereq: 3 credits from RELG 1600 series; 3 credits from RELG at the 2000 level; or permission of the Department

RELG 3941: Religion, Revolution, Violence
Dr. Fiona Black

This course examines the development and historical manifestations of ideologies of violence and nonviolence within the major world religions, with special attention to how these ideologies continue to play themselves out in contemporary global and national conflicts.  Format: On-Campus Lecture 2 Hours Prereq: 3 credits from RELG 1600 series; 3 credits from RELG at the 2000 level; or permission of the Department. Exclusion: RELG 3231.

RELG 3971: Religion in Film
Dr. Andrew Wilson

This course examines the cultural legacy and/or influence of various religious traditions and scriptural texts in the modern medium of film. It begins, with an examination of some great religious "epics", and then considers more recent cinematic treatments of religious themes and figures. Format: Lecture 2 Hours, Laboratory 2.5 Hour Prereq: RELG 3901; 3 credits from RELG 1600 series; 3 credits from RELG at the 2000 level; RELG 2811, 2821 recommended; or permission of the Department.


RELG 4421: Eastern Religions & Modernity
Dr. Barbra Clayton

This course examines the contemporary state of Eastern Religions. It discusses the recent histories of Eastern Religions, and looks at the challenges of science, consequences of colonialism, movements of political independence, and issues of poverty and social justice. It studies particularly these traditions' encounter with the West, and their responses to the cultural exchange that ensues from this encounter. (Format: Seminar 3 Hours) Prereq: 3 credits from RELG 1621, 1681, 2401, 2411, 2521; 3 credits from RELG 3001, 3101, 3301, 3311; or permission of the Department.

Winter 2024

RELG 1621: Death 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
Dr. Andrew Wilson

This course examines various points at which religion and culture collide. Various media will be utilized (film, music, fashion, literature) in order to interpret some of the complex relationships that form and maintain contemporary Western identity. Topics covered will 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 2411: Mother Earth, Father Sky
Dr. Barb 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 2821: Intro to the Bible II: The New Testament
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 3001: Hinduism
Dr. Barb Clayton

A study of Hinduism, examining its origins, history, philosophy, and culture. The course will treat ancient, classical, medieval and modern periods, and conclude with a discussion of the challenges facing contemporary Hinduism. Format: Lecture 3 Hours Exclusion: RELG 3261 Prereq: 3 credits from RELG 1621, 1681, 2401, 2411; 3 credits from RELG at the 1/2000 level; or permission of the Department.

HIST/RELG 3481: Religious Traditions in Canada
Dr. Hannah Lane

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. [Note: This course is cross-listed as RELG 3481 and may therefore count as 3 credits in either discipline](Format: Lecture 3 Hours) (Exclusion: Any version of HIST/RELG 3481 previously offered with a different title) Prereq: 6 credits from HIST, RELG at the 1/2000 level; or permission Department.

RELG 3901: Approaching the Ultimate
Dr. Andrew Wilson

This course examines various kinds of religious phenomena, including mystical experience, sacred texts, religious ethics, and ritual, and explores the different ways the discipline of Religious Studies understands and interprets them. It explores major theoretical approaches, including text-historical, phenomenological, gender-critical, philosophical, and cultural-critical, and assesses them critically for their value in the study of religion. [Note 1: This is a required course for all Majors and Honours students in Religious Studies and is recommended for those taking a Minor.] Format: Lecture 3 Hours Prereq: 3 credits from RELG 1600 series; 3 credits from RELG at the 2000 level; or permission of the Department.
​​​​​Exclusion: Any version of RELG 3901 previously offered with a different title

RELG 3961: Artefacts and Archives
Dr. Fiona Black

This course explores religion's trace's on the lives of practitioners through material and archival culture. Working with a variety of theoretical approaches, students will explore a range of artefactual and archival materials, including material remains, relics, art, graffiti, jettisoned religious paraphernalia, community rules and records, educational materials and correspondence. This course pursues the question of how what is materially left behind might help us to understand religion's impact on personal and community identities, and on cultural and political systems. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) Prereq: 3 credits from RELG, 3 credits from RELG at the 2000 level; or permission of the Department.

RELG 3981: Religious Ethics and the Environment
Dr. Barbra Clayton

This course investigates the role that various religions play in human interaction with the environment and explores how religions are responding or not responding to environmental problems. It examines various religious perspectives on nature and examines critically scholarship which applies religious perspectives to issues in environmental ethics. It also considers the religious basis of contemporary environmental thinkers and movements and examines the worldview assumptions and values that underlie so-called secular approaches to environmental issues. (Format: Seminar 3 Hours) Prereq: 3 credits from RELG 2411, PHIL 2701; 3 credits from RELG 1600 series; or permission of the Department.