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SAM5110: Religion in the Public Sphere

Time schedule | PDF-version for print

General information | Course requirements | Final assessment | Course objective and content | Literature 

Person responsible for the course:Sturla Johan Stålsett (
Credit points (ECTS):10
Start of studies:Autumn
Study programme:Master's degree (2 years) - Religion, Society and Global Issues
Department:Department of Religion and Society
Examination support material permitted:List F 2

General information

SAM5110 will provide an understanding the role of religion in the public sphere and its ability to create social cohesion and conflict. Religion appears at different levels of the public sphere, the nation, the state, politics, and civil society. Some religions are or have been closely connected to nation states. Various forms of religion challenge the secular state and these challenges are voiced peacefully as well as through the use of violence. The relationship between religion and politics also differs greatly around the world. Whereas some religious movements are described as "fundamentalists" other movements are more moderate. All of these topics will be discussed in light of examples from around the globe.

Course requirements

To be qualified for final assessment he student must
  • be present at 75 % of the teaching.
  • write an essay 1,200 - 2,000 words on a topic given by the teacher. The essay must be approved by the teacher.
  • participate in the evaluation of the course if such evaluation is stipulated in the relevant semester.
When course requirements are not fulfilled, this will count as one examination attempt, unless you withdraw within the set deadline (1 May/ 1 November).

Final assessment

To gain credit for the course SAM5110 the student must fulfill all the requirements and pass the written exam (6 hrs). The exam is assessed with grades A-F.  

Course objective and content

The student has:
  • a thorough knowledge of the varied role of religion in relation to the nation, the state, politics, and civil society in different regions.
  • a thorough knowledge of different theories on the role of religion in the public sphere
  • a good knowledge of key issues in the relationship between religion and politics around the globe
  • a good knowledge of theories on religion as a source of social conflict and social cohesion
The student can:
  • identify dilemmas and challenges concerning the role of religion in the public sphere
  • discuss critically different theories on the role of religion in the public sphere
  • analyse and discuss critically concepts such as fundamentalism, secularisation/secularism and public religion
  • apply theories on the role of religion in the public sphere to different dilemmas and/or controversial issues
  • apply relevant empirical research in discussing the role of religion for social conflict and/or social cohesion


To access electronic literature when you are not at MF:
Log in to Oria, or use "External access" in the library's list of databases.

  • Beckford, J. A. (2012). SSSR presidential address public religions and the postsecular: Critical reflections. Journal for the scientific study of religion, 51(1), p. 1-19. Library. Hentet fra
  • Davie, G. (2015). Welfare and religion in Europe: Making the connections. Theology, 118(1), p. 10-17. Library. Hentet fra
  • Habermas, J. (2006). Religion in the public sphere. European journal of philosophy, 14(1), p. 1-25. Library. Hentet fra
  • Hurd, E. S. (2008). The politics of secularism in international relations. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Library
  • Jenson, J. (2002). Identifying the links: Social cohesion and culture. Canadian journal of communication, 27(2), p. 1-6. Hentet fra
  • Juergensmeyer, M. (2008). Global rebellion: Religious challenges to the secular state, from Christian militias to al Qaeda. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press. Library
  • Nussbaum, M. C. (2012). The new religious intolerance: Overcoming the politics of fear in an anxious age. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap. Library

> PDF version for printing