What is Religion? - RSST3520

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Autumn Term 4 15 (7.5) Chris Deacy checkmark-circle


This module will introduce students to discussions about the definition of religion and to some of the disciplines in which religion is studied, with special reference to the differences between Theology and Religious Studies. Particular consideration will be given in the initial weeks to the phenomenological approach and to the efficacy of Ninian Smart's dimensions of religion. In the following weeks, the module will be focused on the comparative study of religion (with reference to Eliade), the sociology of religion (with reference to Durkheim, Weber and Marx) and the psychology of religion (with reference to Otto, James, Freud and Jung). The module will also host a study skills session, the aim of which is to equip students with key study skills in the areas of writing essays, referencing and plagiarism-prevention.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Total Private Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Study Skills Assignment (600 words) – 15%
Essay (1,500 words) – 35%
Examination (2 hours) – 50%

Reassessment methods
100% Coursework (2,500 words)

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages: https://kent.rl.talis.com/index.html

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate an appreciation of religion in phenomenological terms;
2 Assess the work of phenomenologists, sociologists and psychologists in the field of the study of religions;
3 Demonstrate an ability to use and appropriate the rudimentary language used in the phenomenology, sociology, and psychology of religion;
4 Apply a methodological, phenomenological, sociological and psychological perspective to the study of religion.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Identify and use appropriate primary and secondary sources;
2 Demonstrate writing and organisation skills, and to use correct and consistent referencing and to identify and avoid plagiarism.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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