Religion is a key dynamic shaping the contemporary world. Religion is increasingly recognised as an important factor in understanding national and global politics, equalities and power relationships. Religion can be both constituted as an empowering as well as a restrictive entity, which intersects with other social divisions such as gender, ethnicity, class, age and sexuality. The module takes this juxtaposition of empowerment and restriction as its starting point, to critically examine the key sociological issues and debates that arise in relation to contemporary religion. It will examine not only the historical relationship between religion and sociology, but will also map contemporary sacred/secular divisions, and why religion is now firmly back on the sociological agenda. We will also be closely examining the sources of tension in relation to religion, such as issues of gender, sexuality, fundamentalism and atheism. A strong focus will be placed on empirical data to understand how individuals utilise religion in their everyday lives, recognising religion as a fluid process rather than a static entity. There will also be an opportunity for students to undertake a small-scale piece of research work, allowing students to be reflexive about what it means to be a researcher of religion.
Assessment method: The course will be assessed through a 3000-word portfolio of work that may include components such as a critical literature review, write up of small-scale data collection and a research reflection. Feedback will be given informally in seminars, as well as formal written feedback on the returned portfolio.