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SAM5010: Theoretical Perspectives: Religion in Contemporary Society

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

Person responsible for the course:Lars Åsmund Laird Iversen (
Credit points (ECTS):10
Start of studies:Autumn
Study programme:Master's degree (2 years) - Master in Religion in Contemporary Society
Department:Department of Education, Religion and Society
Examination support material permitted:ALLE

Examination dates/written assignment deadlines

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1 Final deadline to withdraw from examination

Examination typeDate / DeadlineWithdrawal deadline 1
Home exam2021-12-02 2. Dec 20212021-11-01 1. Nov 2021
Hand-out date:29. Nov 2021
Time for hand-out:09:00
Submission date: 2. Dec 2021
Submission deadline:09:00
Duration:3 dayER
Release date for results:22. Dec 2021

General information

SAM5010 Theoretical Perspectives: Religion in Contemporary Society aims to provide an introduction to theoretical perspectives, themes and debates in the interdisciplinary academic study of religion. Pursuing a selection of seminal theory formations and debates, the course will enable an enhanced understanding of academic research on religion.
SAM5010 Theoretical Perspectives: Religion in Contemporary Society consists of two parts.
Part A (5 ECTS), “Approaching Religion”, addresses perspectives and debates of importance for all academic study of religion, whether historical or in contemporary society. Part A is designed to be a shared component with HIS5010 Theoretical Perspectives: Religion in History.
The areas explored are:
  • theories and definitions of religion: major turns
  • key concepts in the study of religion
  • categorizations and religion: gendering, racializing, othering
  • present usages of the past
Part B (5 ECTS), “Researching Contemporary Religion,” is a specialized component where the focus will be on perspectives and debates of particular importance for the study of religion in contemporary society.
The areas explored are:
  • secularization and secularities
  • global and post-colonial outlooks
  • cognition, emotions and practice
SAM5010 Theoretical Perspectives: Religion in Contemporary Society is an obligatory course in the Master’s program Religion in Contemporary Society.

Overlapping courses

SAM5010 Theoretical Perspectives: Religion in Contemporary Society overlaps partly with HIS5010 Theoretical perspectives: The historical study of religion:
  • Students who have already completed HIS5010 will receive 5 credit points (ECTS) for SAM5010 on their transcript of records or diploma.

Course requirements

In order to receive a final assessment, the student must:
  • take active part in a minimum of 75% of the formal teaching activities
  • pass a written assessment task (800-1000 words)
  • participate in the electronic evaluation of the course if such an 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 grade will be based on a three day home exam (2500-3500 words). The course is assessed with grades A-F.
To gain credits for the course the student must fulfill the course requirements.

Course objective and content

The student has:
  • thorough knowledge of key theories and definitions of religion
  • thorough knowledge of how religion may interact with other categorizations, including gender and ideas about race and ethnicity
  • thorough knowledge of theories of secularization beyond the west
  • thorough knowledge of theories of everyday religion
  • good knowledge the use of religion in present usages of the past
  • good knowledge and critical awareness of the ways in which conceptions, theories and debates shape academic knowledge about religion
  • good knowledge of debates about media and religion
The student can:
  • participate in discussions and other classroom activities, displaying awareness of her/his positionality within the larger guild of academic studies of religion
  • apply academic concepts and theories to analyze, interpret and discuss religion


To access electronic literature when you are not at MF:

  • Buell, D. K. & Hodge, C. J. (2004). The politics of interpretation: The rhetoric of race and ethnicity in Paul. Journal of Biblical Literature, 123(2), p. 235-251. Library. Hentet fra
  • Bush, S. S. (2012). Are religious experiences too private to study?. The Journal of Religion, 92(2), p. 199-223. Library. Hentet fra
  • Gorski, P. (2018). The origin and nature of religion: A critical realist view. Harvard Theological Review, 111(2), p. 289-304. Library. Hentet fra
  • Mahmood, S. (2001). Feminist theory, embodiment, and the docile agent: Some reflections on the Egyptian Islamic revival. Cultural Anthropology, 16(2), p. 202-236. Library. Hentet fra
  • McCutcheon, R. (1995). The category "religion" in recent publications: A critical survey. Numen, 42, p. 284-309. Library. Hentet fra
  • McCutcheon, R. T. (2015). The category "religion" in recent publications: Twenty years later. Numen, 62(1), p. 119-141. Library. Hentet fra
  • Meeks, W. A. (2004). A nazi New Testament professor reads his Bible: The strange case of Gerhard Kittel. I H. Najman & J. H. Newman (Ed.), The idea of biblical interpretation: Essays in honor of James L. Kugel (p. 513-544). Leiden: Brill. Library (Compendium)
  • Nye, M. (2019). Race and religion: Postcolonial formations of power and whiteness. Method and theory in the study of religion, 31, p. 210-237. Library. Hentet fra
  • Pals, D. L. (2015). Nine theories of religion (3. ed., p. 15-48, 81-184). New York: Oxford University Press. Library
  • Schilbrack, K. (2020). A metaphysics for the study of religion. Critical research on religion, 8(1), p. 87-100. Library (Compendium).
  • Sharf, R. (1998). Experience. I M. C. Taylor (Ed.), Critical terms for religious studies (p. 94-116). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Touna, V. (2017). Fabrications of the Greek past: Religion, tradition, and the making of modern identities (p. 116-139). Leiden: Brill. Library (Compendium)
  • Woodhead, L. (2012). Gender differences in religious practice and significance. Travail, genre et sociétés, 1(27), p. 33-54. Hentet fra


  • Abraham, I. (2021). Decolonization and the sociology of Christianity. Journal of sociology and Christianity, 11(1), p. 62-69. (Compendium).
  • Ammerman, N. T. (2020). Rethinking religion: Toward a practice approach. The American journal of sociology, 126(1), p. 6-51. Library (Compendium).
  • Astor, A. & Mayrl, D. (2020). Culturalized religion: A synthetic review and agenda for research. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 59(2), p. 209-226. Library. Hentet fra
  • Burchardt, M., Wohlrab-Sahr, M. & Wegert, U. (2013). Multiple secularities: Postcolonial variations and guiding ideas in India and South Africa. International sociology, 28(6), p. 612-628. Library (Compendium).
  • Gorski, P. (2018). Secularity I: Varieties and Dilemmas. I M. Künkler, J. Madeley & S. Shankar (Ed.), A Secular Age Beyond the West: Religion, law and the state in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (p. 33-60). Cambridge University Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Joppke, C. (2018). Culturalizing religion in Western Europe: Patterns and puzzles. Social compass, 65(2), p. 234-246. Library. Hentet fra
  • Münkler, M. & Shankar, S. (2018). Introduction. I M. Künkler, J. Madeley & S. Shankar (Ed.), A Secular Age Beyond the West: Religion, law and the state in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (p. 1-32). Cambridge University Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Nye, M. (2019). Decolonizing the study of religion. Open library of humanities, 5(1), p. 43. Hentet fra
  • Roy, O. (2010). Holy ignorance: When religion and culture part ways (p. 1-22). London: Hurst. Library
  • Taylor, C. (2011). Dilemmas and connections: Selected essays (p. 303-325). Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Van Herck, W. & Drigo, A. (2019). The plausibility of pure religion: Oliver Roy's thesis about the separation between religion and culture. Toronto journal of theology, 35(2), p. 150-160. (Compendium).

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