Course Descriptions

100 Level

103 World Religions: What you need to know
This course teaches what you need to know to be successful by developing four competencies of a global citizen:
(a) Social – what you need to know to interact with a client/neighbour who is of a different religion;
(b) Cultural – what you need to know when travelling to a part of the world where the culture is shaped by a different religion;
(c) Academic – what you need to know to pursue graduate studies in this religion; and even
(d) Philosophical/Spiritual – what you would need to know to see the world from the point of view of a follower of this religion.
We do so by introducing the sacred texts and narratives, myths, symbols, rituals, history, philosophy and sociology of Indigenous religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, and New Religious Movements. Offered 2022-2023.
117 Ethical Principles for Health Care Providers
This course is designed to provide the foundation for promoting moral development and ethical competence among health care professionals as informed by diverse religious and cultural traditions.Students will be introduced to the moral and ethical principles underlying debates concerning advancements in medical technologies.  Special emphasis will be placed on the moral behaviours and skills demonstrated by exemplary health care providers in health care settings. Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.

200 Level

209 Beginning Arabic
Arabic is written and understood as an official language in more than 35 countries, including at least 400 million people living in majority Arabic-speaking countries.This course introduces students to formal written Arabic and the spoken dialects of Syria and Egypt. Students will become proficient at reading, writing, and understanding basic Arabic and will be able to carry on simple conversation. In addition to language, the course includes expressions of culture, both religious and non-religious. Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 209 and RELS 291(2018-19) or RELS 298(2017-18). Three credits.
210 The Bible and Film
This course examines the impact of the Bible on film, and introduces major biblical themes in films with, and films without, explicit religious content. Students will learn how biblical knowledge can enrich our understanding of modern culture and important human issues, such as creation, redemption, election, messiah-ship, charisma, and tradition. Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
212 Christianity
This course is a comprehensive investigation of the history, teachings, and cultural influence of Christianity from its beginnings as an attempted renewal of Judaism in the first century of the common era to its current role as an international influence on world affairs.  We will examine representative texts and thinkers comparing the differences among the various denominations of Christianity (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant).  Students will also learn about the past and contemporary relationships between Christianity and other religions, especially Judaism and Islam.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 212 or RELS 100.  Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
214 Judaism
This course introduces the historical development of Judaism from its origin to the 21st century.  Special attention is given to factors that shaped this development: geographical, political, economic, social, and theological. 
215 Sociology of Religion
An introduction to the sociological study of religion. Topics include: social factors that influence religion at individual and communal levels; religion as agent of social cohesion and social conflict; religion and power structures; the impact of pluralism and globalization on religion today. Cross-listed as SOCI 227.  Three credits. 
216 Superheroes and the Supernatural
This course is an introduction to the use of supernatural imagery and themes in current tales of superheroes.  How are supernatural beings and forces incorporated into the stories?  How do superheroes function as divine beings?  In which ways are the messages presented by DC and Marvel derived from those of world religions?  In which ways do they serve as substitutes for religion?  Credit will be granted only for one of REL 216 and RELS 298 (2020-2022) Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
219 Celtic Paganism
This course examines the religious practices and beliefs of the ancient Celtic peoples that we can glean from archaeology, reports of Greek and Roman commentators, place-name evidence, and the mythology in medieval Irish and Welsh narrative tradition. Other topics include syncretism, the adaptation of pagan festivals into Christian holidays, the persistence of elements of paganism into the Christian era, witchcraft in Scotland and Ireland in the context of the European phenomenon and neo-paganism today. Cross-listed as CELT 220. Three credits.
221 Religion and the Environmental Crisis
Perhaps the greatest challenge of our time is the ecological crisis.  This threat has provoked widespread reflection upon humanity's relationship to its environment.  Such reflection however is not new.  This relationship was already being explored millennia ago, in humanity's most ancient religious texts.  This course investigates the historical interaction of religion and ecology, and considers how religion might yet constitute either a hindrance or an aid in navigating the present ecological crisis.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 221 or  RELS 356.  Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
222 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in World Religions
Much contemporary fantasy draws upon ancient and medieval myths about beasts
and monsters of various sorts. In this course, we will consider the religious origins
of the fantastic, and how it continues to resonate in our contemporary world.
Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 222, RELS 292(2018-19) and RELS
298(2017-18). Three credits.  Offered 2022-2023.
225 Cults and Alternative Religions
A study of cults in the context of 20th-century North American society, beginning
with defining cults in relation to sects and churches. Topics include neo-paganism;
Hare Krishna; the theosophical tradition; the Unification Church; tragic endings to
cults such as the Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate; why people join cults;
and the religio-cultural significance of cults today. Three credits.  Offered 2022-2023.
229 Celtic Christianity
This course is an exploration of the development of Christianity amongst the Celtic
peoples. A major facet will be the medieval hagiographic tradition and saints’ cults
from the fourth to the twelfth centuries. Other topics include monasticism, peregrini,
the Hiberno-Scottish mission to the continent, conflict with Roman Catholicism,
material culture, the modern use of the term “Celtic Christianity”. Cross-listed as
CELT 230. Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
235 Hinduism and Buddhism
This course introduces the paths to enlightenment identified by members of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of India and Tibet.  We will introduce the philosophy, mythology and ritual traditions of both Hinduism and Buddhism.  Three credits.  Offered 2022-2023.
246 Philosophy of Religion
Explores the philosophy of religion, including different concepts of God with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian tradition; arguments for the existence of God; classical and modern challenges to belief in God. Issues such as "life after death" miracles, religious experience, and the concept of prayer may also be discussed. Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 246 or PHIL 240.  Cross-listed as PHIL 245.  Three credits.
254 Islam
This course surveys the Islamic religious tradition taking account of its historical context from pre-origins till the present.  Students will become conversant with basic Islamic beliefs, texts, and ritual and other practices across a spectrum of schools of thought.  In addition, the course introduces critical questions in the study of Islam.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 254 or RELS 370.  Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
261 Islam and Film
Students will gain a critical understanding of film as an artifact of culture and a powerful medium of religious and cultural epression in Muslim contexts.  Students encounter themes such as religion and politics, marriage and family, youth, society, sexuality, ritual and devotion, Islamic law, community, and ethics, and engage critically in their cinematic representations.  The course is based primarily on foreign films with English subtitles and provides a foundation for further study of Islamic traditions.  Three credits. 
297 Selected Topics
The topic for 2022-2023 is Apocalypses.  This course focuses on a popular genre of texts called "apocalypse", produced in the early development of Judaism and Christianity.  Apocalypses deal with the end of the world.  We will explore the development of the worldview called apocalypticism and the ancient apocalyptic literature associated with it, making use of texts left out of the biblical canon as well as those more well known, such as Daniel and Revelation.  Students will have the opportunity to compare what they've learned about ancient apocalypses to a variety of contemporary apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic works. Three credits.

298 Selected Topics
The topic for 2022-2023 is Religion and Human Rights.  This course examines the interface of ethics, religion, and human rights in three parts: 1) the historical and conceptual background for the concept of human rights and its relationship to religion; 2) contributions from major world religious traditions to an evolving international conversation on human rights; 3) the impact of religion on the often-complex relationship between the language of human rights and the condition of vulnerability.  Three credits.

300 and 400 Levels

310 Religion in Modern India
This course will explore continuity and change in modern Indian religion. After an introduction to contemporary Indian secular democracy, we will explore traditional Indian religion as a living phenomenon and review basic elements of traditional Hinduism. As well, examine the contribution of various change-makers to the evolution of Indian religious tradition and traditional Indian responses to the challenges created by Buddhism, Islam, British colonization, the partition of India, and Indian secular democracy itself.  Prerequisite: any 100-level RELS course of permission of the instructor. Six credits.
311 New testament
This course provides an introduction to the academic study of the history and literature of the early Christian movement.  The aim of this course is to provide a solid understanding of the New Testament through close study of texts, historical analysis, and evaluation of evidence and arguments.  We will explore several early Christian groups, their multiple disputes, arguments, positions, theologies, and understandings, through close reading of texts and appreciation of historical contexts.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 311, RELS 255, or RELS 265.  Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
312 Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
This course examines the foundation texts of both Judaism and Christianity, notably the prophetic, historical, and wisdom literature included in the Old Testament.  Each biblical book will be placed in its historical, theological, and literary context, by situating it in the relevant archeological data, historical background, and contemporary scholarship.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 312 and RELS 253. Three credits.
315 Authentic Power and Gender
This course presents "authentic power" as understood in Hindu and Buddhist traditions.  Here, "authentic power" is that which creates, supports, maintains and sustains life.  It is understood as an expression of inter-dependent masculine and feminine "principles" both within and outside the individual self.  That which seeks to manipulate, control, donimate, oppress or defend territory is here understood to be based in fear: it is an expression of cowardice and, as such, merits our compassion.  Cross-listed as WMGS 397. Three credits.
Offered 2022-2023.
316 Women in Early Judaism
The course investigates the depiction and experience of women from the earliest biblical narratives to the separation of Christianity from Judaism.  Students analyze responses to women and ideas about women in Biblical and other early Jewish writings, in comparison to women in the rest of the Ancient Near East, in conversation with feminist interpreters of the Bible and early Judaism, we will note the relevance of this material for contemporary gender issues.  Cross-listed as WMGS 316. Three credits. 
317 Paul and His Interpreters
This course provides an introduction to the academic study of the history and literature of the early Christian movement.  The aim of this course is to provide a solid understanding of the New Testament through close study of texts, historical analysis, and evaluation of evidence and arguments.  We will explore several early Christian groups, their multiple disputes, arguments, positions, theologies, and understandings, through close reading of texts and appreciation of historical contexts.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 317 and RELS 275.  Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
325 Early Christian Women
This course investigates women’s participation in early Christian groups from the time of Jesus’ ministry to the 6th century. Christian women’s lives will be compared to those of women in Jewish and Greco-Roman societies. Students will analyze New Testament and other early Christian writings, read feminist scholarship, and examine such issues as women’s leadership and violence against women. Cross-listed as WMGS 325.Three credits. 
326 Hindu Deities
This course presents the stories of goddesses and gods in the Hindu pantheon.  It explores elements of ancient and classical Hindu thought associated with these stories of these deities.  It identifies related elements in classical schools of Hindu philosophies such as Samkhya and Vedanta, and gives voice to the poets of the medieval Hindu devotional tradition.  Together we will explore concepts of self, other, the world, devotion, the divine and freedom in Hindu religious thought.  Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
327 Buddhist Thought:  the Way of the Bodhisattva
This course presents the Buddhist ideal of the Way of Bodhisattva, one who vows to continue to re-incarnate, lifetime after lifetime, in order to serve all beings until such time as all beings are freed from suffering.  It examines early Buddhist teachings that anticipate the development of this ideal, including the Theravada Buddhist focus on the strenght of discipline of the mind and body, before detailing the Mahayana Buddhist development of this ideal and its expansion in the narrative and practice of Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  It will include study of Buddhist philosophy regarding the gradual states of realisation of enlightment. Three credits.
328 Mind, Self and Society
A "Mindfulness Immersion" experience, this summer course offers three weeks of intensive online learning in preparation for a one-week experience of Buddhist monastic practice to take place at Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  Study will include the historical development of Buddhism, and in particular of Tibetan Buddhism, along with the examination of ethical and philosophic underpinnings of Buddhist monastic practice.  A variety of mindfulness/contemplative techniques will be experienced during our time as part of the Buddhist monastic community.  Prerequisite: permission of the instructor, enrolment is limited.  The 3-week theory component of the course is offered online only.  Three credits. 
331 Social Activists Inspired by the Bible
In this course students trace the religious origins of ideas that have inspired global leaders to engage issues of social justice in the world.  The activists typically including Moses Coady, Martin Luthr King Jr., Mother Theresa, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Oscar Romero, Charlotte Keys, SueZann Bosler, Helen Prejean, Jim Zwerg, Jim Corbett, John Dear, Shane Claiborne, Daniel Berrigan, Roy Bourgeois, Robin Harper, Willima Wilberforce, Desmond Tutu, Tommy Douglas, Dorothy Day, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
333 Religion, Violence and Peace
Contrary to an old belief, in our time religion is increasingly associated with violence rather than peace.  This course explains why this is the case and whether there is an inherently violent element in religion that has passed unnoticed until now.  The investigation takes us through Greek, Roman, Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions to find the religious underpinnings to concepts of sacrifice, scapegoating, lynching, and global violence.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 333 and RELS 335.  Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
334  Black/African Diaspora: Culture Religion and Society
This course critically examines structural and sociocultural factors that operate and/or reproduce powerlessness among Black people in the Diaspora.  Attention will be given to Black/African culture, experience and contributions, especially in Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean.  Attention will also be given to the intersection of religion and cultural exrpessions in the African Diaspora.  The importance of religion in the Black Diaspora's experience of both oppression and liberation will be a key component of our analytic framework.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 334 or RELS 398.  Cross-listed as SOCI 337. Three credits.
336 Religion and Politics
An examination of the impact of religion on politics and politics on religion. Students will consider the relationship between religion and politics in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, India and Pakistan, Eastern Europe and North America. Case studies will demonstrate interactions between the state and Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism, as well as the influence of religion on citizenship, education, the party system, and social issues. Cross-listed as PSCI 295. Offered in online format. Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
342 Prophets and Prophecy
This course surveys the role and teaching of the biblical prophets in their ancient setting, and their impact on modern life and thought.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 342 and RELS 253 and RELS 312. Three credits. 
352 History of Early Judah
This course explores the history of ancient Judaism from the Babylonian captivity in 586 BCE to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  Students will examine the geography, culture, and historical milieu of the Apocrypha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Jesus, and the earliest rabbinic writings, and discuss the major persons and events in ancient Judea.  Three credits. 
353 Iconography of Christian Art: The Life of Christ
Iconography is the identification and interpretation of images. This course is an introduction to the iconography of Christian art, with an emphasis on images of the Life and Passion of Christ. The course will examine how images develop over history, and how they may be understood in light of historical events, changes in theological thought, and in the artist’s own spirituality. Cross-listed as ART 356. Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
354 Iconography of Christian Art: The Saints
This course is an introduction to the iconography of Christian art, with an emphasis on images of Mary and the saints. The course will examine how images develop over history, and how they may be understood in light of historical events, changes in theological thought, and in the artist’s own spirituality. Discussion will include how such images were used as objects of personal devotion but also for the conveying of important theological and social values.Cross-listed as ART 357. Three credits.
363  Roman Christianity
Examines the development of Christianity from its beginnings in the 1st century to its acceptance as the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century. Students will learn about early Christian beliefs and practices, and explore the challenges faced by the first Christians.  Topics include community organization, persecution, martyrdom, Gnosticism, and women in the church. Three credits.
365 Spirituality in Medieval Christianity
This course will focus on the spirituality of the formative years in the development of Christian thought, beginning with the legalization of Christianity in 313 CE and ending with the Reformation. Students will see how some of the most searching and intelligent men and women in both the western and eastern churches have wrestled with the question of how it is possible to know God. Three credits. 
374 Modern and Contemporary Islam
This course examines issues and debates in modern and contemporary Islamic discourse from a broad spectrum of perspectives.  The course introduces students to a plurality of voices, both Sunni and Shi'te, on many controversials issues facing Muslims today, including, but not limited to the nature of the Qur'an, methods of interpretation, Muhammad, the role of women, Islam and the West, violence, terrorism, and human ritghts.  The course uses secondary and primary sources in translation.  Three credits.
375 Islam in Canada
Focusing primarily on the Canadian context, this course explores the variety of Muslim identities in North American society. After a brief historical survey of Islam and Muslims in North America, including immigrant and African-American Islam, the course examines the diverse perspectives of North American Muslim and non- Muslim scholars on questions and debates around integration, identity, authority, youth, education, gender, shariah in Canada (Muslim religious arbitration in civil law), media representation, discrimination, and surveillance post-9/11. Cross-listed as SOCI 374.Offered in online format. Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
395  Selected Topics: Magic and Witchcraft in the Premodern West
The Topic for 2022-2023 is Magic and Witchcraft in the Premodern West.  Magic was an integral part of Western culture until the modern era.  Most people believed in some form of magic, and attributed supernatural or occult powers to nature, the stars, herbs and gems, or angels and demons.  This course examines the variety and development of magical beliefs in Europe and the Mediterranean from Antiquity to the Early Modern period, with a focus on the Roman Church's attempts to control or ban women's witchcraft. Cross-listed as HIST 395. 3 credits.
397 Selected Topics: Christian-Muslim Encounters
The topic for 2022-2023 is Christian-Muslim Encounters: A 1400-year Conversation. This course examines religious conversations between Christians and Muslims from the 7th century till today. Students engage in a close reading of select primary texts in translation from Syriac, Greek, and Arabic. Secondary sources provide contemporary perspectives on enduring themes.  Prerequisites: RELS 103 recommended. Three credits.
401 Religious Approaches to Sexuality
Human sexuality is explored from two main perspectives: first, the teachings and practices of various religious traditions; and second, contemporary developments in sexual and reproductive health and rights. Among the issues to be considered are sexuality and gender roles, contraception and abortion, marriage and family. Cross-listed as WMGS 411. Prerequisites: any 100-level RELS or WMGS course. Three credits. 
402 Religious Approaches to Sexual Diversity
This course will focus on religious teachings and traditions on sexual diversity within the broader context of human rights associated with sexual orientation and sexual differences. In particular, we will look at the experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersexual and transgendered persons within religious communities. Cross-listed as WMGS 412. Prerequisites: any 100-level RELS or WMGS course. Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
404 The Dead Sea Scrolls
This course surveys the Dead Sea Scrolls found in the Judean desert.  The most important archeological discovery of the 20th century, these scrolls have generated much controversy.  We will examine the major texts from Qumran to assess their impact on our understanding of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, and the period of Judaism in which Christianity arose.  We will place the scrolls in their various contexts:  archaelogical, historical, literary, religious, and social.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 404 and RELS 318. Three credits. 
414 Ancient Indian Myth and Ritual
Ancient Indian thought assumes that there is a fundamental wholeness to our lives and to our world which only appears at times to be fragmented. The myth, ritual and philosophy of ancient India are, in many respects, a contemplation on this basic wholeness and its composite elements. Exploration of ancient Indian thought with its ideas of humans and demons, ancestors and gods, and our place in the natural world in light of this reflection on “the parts and the whole” will be discussed. Three credits.
416 History and Archeology of Ancient Israel
This course explores the history of ancient Israel and Judah from their origin to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE.  Students will examine the geography, culture, and historical milieu that gave rise to the Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, and discuss the major persons and events in ancient Israel and Judah.  Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 416 and RELS 351.  Three credits. Offered 2022-2023.
426 The Jewish World of Jesus
This course examines the history and literature of the Jewish people from the period of the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century BCE to the Bar Kokhba Revolt in the 2nd century CE. The literary sources for the study of the Jewish world at the turn of the era include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bible, and the Mishnah. This course serves as an introduction to the religious and social environment of the historical Jesus. Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 426 or RELS 440. Three credits. Offered 2022-2023
427 Jesus the Christ
Building upon RELS 426, this course begins with an examination of aspects of the life of the historical Jesus, including his teaching, ministry, and the events leading to his crucifixion. The four canonical Gospels and Letters of Paul will be analyzed as students probe the question of why Jesus came to be understood as the Messiah by the first Christians. Credit will be granted for only one of RELS 427 or RELS 440. Three credits.