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SAM2270: Sociology of Religion

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

Person responsible for the course:Espen Gilsvik (
Credit points (ECTS):10
Start of studies:Autumn
Study programme:Bachelor's degree programme - Bachelor of Theology
Bachelor's degree programme - Bachelor in Religion and Society
Bachelor's degree programme - Bachelor in Theology, Religion and Society
Department:Department of Theology and Ministry
Examination support material permitted:List F 2
Prerequisite knowledge equivalent to:SAM1210

Examination dates/written assignment deadlines

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1 Final deadline to withdraw from examination

Examination typeDate / DeadlineWithdrawal deadline 1
Written school exam2021-12-07 7. Dec 20212021-11-01 1. Nov 2021
Start time:09:00
Duration:4 hours
Release date for results: 5. Jan 2022

General information

This course presents a broad overview over classical and contemporary perspectives in the sociology of religion. It covers various processes of religious change in contemporary society, and addresses contentious issues such as secularization and secularism, and radicalization and fundamentalism. The course opens for discussions around the role of religion in a world of globalization, cultural diversity and religious pluralism. It raises critical questions about gender and sexuality in religion. The course also investigates post-colonial perspectives on religion.
Theoretical perspectives will be combined with current debates and research on religion. The lectures in this course provide a space for debate and deliberation around contentious issues concerning religion in global society. Discussing and thinking analytically about religious phenomena will strengthen the students’ ability to distinguish between insider and outsider perspectives on religion.
The course is a core subject in the study program Bachelor in Theology, Religion and Society. SAM1210 Introduction to the Social Sciences is a recommended qualification.

Course requirements

The student will:
  • attend at least 60 percent of the lectures.
  • submit and have approved an essay of 1200-1500 words on a subject covered in the course.
  • Participate in the electronic evaluation of the course if such evaluation is stipulated in the relevant term.
  • When course requirements are not fulfilled, this will count as one examination attempt, unless the student withdraws before the set deadline (1 May/November).

Final assessment

The final evaluation is a 4-hour written exam. The exam is assessed with grades (A-F).
In order to receive a final assessment, the students must fulfill the course requirements within the set deadlines.

Course objective and content

The student has:
  • a good knowledge of major trends in religious change in contemporary societies
  • a good knowledge of sociological concepts and theories used in studying religion
  • knowledge of classical sociological accounts of religion
  • knowledge of perspectives on religion and gender
  • knowledge of relations between religion and gender, ideology, globalization and conflict
The student can:
  • Use relevant concepts, theories and empirical knowledge in analysis of religion
  • Present a critical analysis of different theories in the sociology of religion
  • Write an analysis in the sociology of religion, following the basic rules of scientific inquiry
  • Think analytically about religious phenomena
  • The ability to distinguish between personal perspectives, and knowledge based on academic study


To access electronic literature when you are not at MF:

  • Aldridge, A. (2013). Religion in the contemporary world: A sociological introduction (3. ed., p. 165-180, 208-226). Cambridge: Polity Press. Library
  • Appiah, K. A. (2014). Is religion good or bad?: TED talk.. Hentet fra
  • Berger, P. L. (1999). The desecularization of the world: A global overview. I P. L. Berger (Ed.), The Desecularization of the world: Resurgent religion and world politics (p. 1-18). Washington D.C: Ethics and Public Policy Center. Library (Compendium)
  • Berger, P. L. (1969). The sacred canopy: Elements of a sociological theory of religion (p. 3-101). New York: Anchor Books / Doubleday. Library
  • Davie, G. (2013). The sociology of religion: A critical agenda (2. ed., p. 207-229). London: Sage. Library (Compendium)
  • Davie, G., Woodhead, L. & Catto, R. (2016). Secularization and secularism. I L. Woodhead, C. H. Partridge & H. Kawanami (Ed.), Religions in the modern world: Traditions and transformations (3. ed., p. 551-570). London: Routledge. Library (Compendium)
  • Dawson, A. (2011). Sociology of religion. London: SCM Press. Library
  • Furseth, I. & Repstad, P. (2006). An introduction to the sociology of religion: Classical and contemporary perspectives. Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate. Library. Hentet fra
  • Gullestad, M. (2007). Picturing pity: Pitfalls and pleasures in cross-cultural communication: Image and word in a North Cameroon mission (p. 1-33). New York: Berghahn. Library (Compendium)
  • Knott, K. (2016). How to study religion. I L. Woodhead, C. H. Partridge & H. Kawanami (Ed.), Religions in the modern world: Traditions and transformations (3. ed., p. 15-40). London: Routledge. Library (Compendium)
  • Pals, D. L. (2015). Nine theories of religion (3. ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. Library
  • Pew Research Center, . (2017). The changing global religious landscape. Hentet 2020-05-29 fra
  • Spickard, J. V. (2018). The sociology of religion in a post-colonial era: Towards theoretical reflexivity. Religions, 10(1). Hentet fra
  • Spickard, J. V. (2017). Alternative sociologies of religion: Through non-western eyes (p. 45-80). New York: New York University Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Vasquez, M. (2016). Religion, globaliation and migration. I L. Woodhead, C. H. Partridge & H. Kawanami (Ed.), Religions in the modern world: Traditions and transformations (3. ed., p. 431-452). London: Routledge. Library (Compendium)
  • Woodhead, L. (2016). Religion and gender. I L. Woodhead, C. H. Partridge & H. Kawanami (Ed.), Religions in the modern world: Traditions and transformations (3. ed., p. 493-510). London: Routledge. Library (Compendium)

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