Universität Wien FIND

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to courses and exams may be necessary at short notice. Inform yourself about the current status on u:find and check your e-mails regularly.

Please read the information on https://studieren.univie.ac.at/en/info.

Warning! The directory is not yet complete and will be amended until the beginning of the term.

010100 SE What is Religion? (2021S)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 1 - Katholische Theologie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


Language: English



DO 04.03.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL
DO 11.03.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL
DO 18.03.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL
DO 25.03.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL
DO 15.04.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL
DO 22.04.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL
DO 29.04.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL
DO 06.05.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL
DO 20.05.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL
DO 27.05.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL
DO 10.06.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL
DO 17.06.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL
DO 24.06.2021 15.00-16.30 DIGITAL


Aims, contents and method of the course

Aims, contents, and method of the course

The course aims to introduce students to a range of modern theories of religion stemming from the fields of sociology, economics, and psychology, and to enable students to apply theories to actual religions. By the end of the course, students should have become familiar with the range of these modern theories of religion, with ways of comparing theories, with ways of applying theories to specific religions, and with ways of evaluating theories.

A survey of leading classical theories of religion, as were exemplified by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, Robert Bellah, and Rodney Stark. A ‘theory of religion’ is an attempt to generalize about the phenomenon of religion across time and space by answering two fundamental questions: what is the origin and what is the function of religion. By focusing on theorists who represent different disciplines (Economics, Psychology, and Sociology), and by reading their own works, the course will discuss whether and how those theorists answer the aforementioned questions, how they approach religion, what do they make of the phenomenon, and how they contributed to the development of understanding religion.

Reading of selected texts (in English translation), lectures, and in class discussion.
All readings will be available on MOODLE at the beginning of the semester.

Assessment and permitted materials

Assessment and permitted materials
Class participation, attendance, and short by-weekly quizzes (30%); book review 1,000 words (20%); essay 3,500 words (50%).
Academic books, academic articles, encyclopaedias, internet sources (Wikipedia is not allowed).

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria
An interest in different disciplinary approaches to religion; no knowledge of foreign languages is required apart from a good command of English; all readings will be in English.
Class participation, attendance, and short by-weekly quizzes (30%); book review 1,000 words (20%); essay 3,500 words (50%).

Examination topics

Examination topics
Lecture content; the original readings of the theorists under examination; critical approach and personal insight.

Reading list

Reading list
(1) Pals, Daniel L. 2015. Nine Theories of Religion. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.
(2) Segal, Robert A. 2005. “Theories of Religion.” In John R. Hinnells (ed.), The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 49–60.
(3) McCutcheon, Russell T. 2018. Studying Religion: An Introduction. 2nd edition. London and New York: Routledge.

Association in the course directory

066 800 M8, M22, 033 195 (17W) BRP 04rwb

Last modified: We 21.04.2021 11:25