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SAM5030: The Craft: Research Skills and Professional Engagement in the Study of Religion

Time schedule | PDF-version for print

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

Person responsible for the course:Marielle Stigum Gleiss (
Credit points (ECTS):10
Start of studies:Autumn
Study programme:Master's degree (2 years) - Master in Religion in Contemporary Society
Master's degree (2 years) - Master in History of Religions
Department:Department of Education, Religion and Society

General information

This course teaches the craftsmanship of researching religion. The course has three interconnected components:
  • searching, selecting and reading: Staying on top of relevant research
  • modes of professional engagement and research ethics
  • academic writing
The first part of SAM5030 provides the student with the tools to search for, select and read existing research on a topic. The ability to establish an overview over existing research and academic debates on a topic is key to future research skills, and an asset in many knowledge-based workplaces. It is also a key skill in writing a masters dissertation and in doing independent research.
In addition to creating, reading and reviewing an up-to-date reading list on a selected topic, the students will be introduced to the ongoing process of following research publications. The students must follow relevant research journals, familiarize themselves with the profile of the journal over the past few years. Thus the students get:
  • an introduction to the everyday flow of knowledge production within contemporary research on religion,
  • substantive knowledge of the cutting edge of research today, and
  • the ability to scan abstracts and select up to date research for closer reading.
The second part of the course deals with various modes of professional engagement with the topics at hand within research on religion. The student should here gain substantive knowledge of foundational debates concerning insider/outsider perspectives, normativity and positionality, and various forms of engagement and investment in the substance and outcome of research on religion. This is a place for a reflexive investigation of not only the “how” but the “why” of studying religion.
The third part of the course deals with writing as a key skill for academic engagement with religion. In addition to in depth work on writing skills at MA level, the course will present writing about religion as a skill infused with a sense of professional engagement, combining fair and truthful presentation of knowledge with a developing personal voice.
All three parts deal extensively with research ethics, though it is dealt with in more detail in the second part of the course.
The craft of research is the practical marriage of the research skills and professional engagement in researching religion.

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
  • participate in an obligatory library course in searching databases
  • answer a number of questions related to a series of short video lectures in Canvas within a set deadline
  • have approved a first draft of a literature review (700-1000 words), including a reading list (approximately 300 pages) and submit written feedback on the drafts of other students
  • have approved a revised version of the literature review (2000-2500 words)
  • have approved a presentation (1200-1500 words) of the profile and key themes in recent years of two academic journals. The presentation format is decided by the course convenor
  • have approved a reflection document (800-1000 words) developing a professional academic understanding of one’s own modes of engagement with research on religion
  • 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 course is assessed as pass/fail, based on whether or not the course requirements are fulfilled.
To gain credits for the course the student must fulfill the course requirements.

Course objective and content

When the course is completed, the student has:  
  • thorough knowledge about key debates concerning insider/outsider debates, research situatedness and normativity in the study of religion
  • thorough knowledge of key factors for successful academic writing about religion
  • good knowledge about debates about public engagement in different disciplines
  • good knowledge about key academic journals in the field
When the course is completed, the student can: 
  • perform an academic literature search
  • write an academic literature review
  • reflect about how the academic study of religion can be useful to to different audiences and users
  • reflect upon his or her own positionalityand modes of engagement with research on religion
The student should have a sense of the practical skills and professional engagement that constitutes the craft of religion studies


To access electronic literature when you are not at MF:

  • Burawoy, M. (2005). For public sociology. American Sociological Review, 70(1), p. 4-28. Library. Hentet fra
  • Etzioni, A. (2005). Bookmarks for public sociologists. The British journal of sociology, 56(3), p. 373-378. Library (Compendium).
  • Greshko, M. (2020). Dead Sea Scrolls' at the Museum of the Bible are all forgeries. National Geographic, (13th March). Hentet fra
  • Jensen, J. S. (2011). Revisiting the insider-outsider debate: Dismantling a pseudo-problem in the study of religion. Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, 23(1), p. 29-47. Library. Hentet fra
  • Leider, J. (2018). Rohingya: The history of a Muslim identity in Myanmar. I Oxford research encyclopedia of Asian history. (Compendium)
  • Lwin, R. N. S. (2018). Re: Oxford U. Press, Myanmar genocide & its choice of Dr Leider as the expert on Rohingyas. Hentet 2019-06-20 fra
  • McCarthy Brown, K. (1999). Writing about "the other". I R. T. McCutcheon (Ed.), The Insider/outsider problem in the study of religion: A reader (p. 350-353). London: Cassell. Library (Compendium)
  • McCutcheon, R. T. (1999). General introduction + Introduction. I R. T. McCutcheon (Ed.), The Insider/outsider problem in the study of religion: A reader (p. 1-22). London: Cassell. Library (Compendium)
  • Miner, H. (1956). Body ritual among the Nacirema. American Anthropologist, 58(3), p. 503-507. Library. Hentet fra
  • Moss, C. & Baden, J. (2016). Can hobby lobby buy the Bible?. The Atlantic, (January/February). (Compendium).
  • Ridley, D. (2012). The literature review: A step-by-step guide for students (2. ed., p. 1-174). Los Angeles: Sage. Library

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