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Module Code: POU44271

Module Name: Religion and Politics 2020-21

  • ECTS Weighting: 5
  • Semester/Term Taught: Semester 1
  • Contact Hours: One two-hour seminar per week
  • Module Personnel: Dr Gizem Arikan
  • Office Hours: TBA

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • identify and explain the major theoretical approaches to the study of religion in multiple fields,
  • evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different theoretical approaches to the study of religion and politics,
  • discuss the institutional, social, and psychological dynamics linking religion to social and political conflict and cooperation.

Module Learning aims

Critically evaluate the role of religion in public life using concepts and theories from multiple disciplines; assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of different approaches in the study of religion and politics; explain how and why religion often has contradictory effects on political outcomes.

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Module content

This module examines the relationship between religion and various political outcomes from multiple perspectives. It surveys classical and recent approaches to the study of religion and social and political organization from multiple disciplines including sociology, psychology, economics, and political science to understand and explain the enduring effect of religion on political life at individual, communal, and global levels. Religion is often a double-edged sword: On the one hand, it is associated with pro-social and cooperative outcomes; on the other hand, religion often underlies prejudice, violence, and conflict. The major goal of the module is to explain the social, institutional, and psychological dynamics linking religion to cooperation at certain times and to conflict at others. 

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Module Reading List

  • Appleby, R. Scott. 2000. The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield
  • Durkheim, Emile. 2001. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. New York: Oxford University Press
  • Gill, Anthony. 2007. The Political Origins of Religious Liberty. Cambridge University Press
  • Norenzayan, Ara. 2013. Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict. Princeton University Press
  • Fox, Jonathan. 2015. Political Secularism, Religion, and the State. Cambridge University Press
  • Toft, Monica Duffy, Daniel Philpott, and Timothy Samuel Shah. 2011. God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics. W. W. Norton & Company
  • Weber, Max. 2001. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Routledge

Assessment Details

Response papers - weighted 5%

Essay 1 - weighted 35%

Final Essay - weighted 60%

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