Sociology of Religion - SOCI7360

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module covers key issues and debates in the sociology of religion in order to interrogate the significance of religious faith and belief in the modern world. After an introductory lecture, the module is organised into two closely connected parts. Firstly, it explores classical statements on the sources, meaning and fate of religion in modernity by examining the writings of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Georg Simmel, and using their analyses to interrogate current events (e.g. 'prosperity Pentecostalism' and also violent responses to transgressions of what religions consider to be sacred). The emphasis here is on developing in students the knowledge and skills necessary to appreciate and engage critically with the significance of religion for the development of sociology, and with key statements about the modern fate of religion in and beyond the West. Second, the module explores in some detail core issues concerned with and associated with the secularisation debate. Here, we look not only at conventional arguments concerning secularisation and de-secularisation, but also at the significance of ‘the return of the sacred’ in society, civil religion, the material experience of religion, and the manner in which religious identities and habits are developed in the contemporary world. This enables us to develop new perspectives on the viability of religion in current times.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150


Cultural Studies and Media BA
Cultural Studies joint-honours BA degrees
Sociology BA
Sociology joint-honours BA degrees

Method of assessment

13.1 Main assessment methods
Coursework – essay (2250 words) - 50%
Examination (2 hours) – 50%

13.2 Reassessment methods
100% coursework

Indicative reading

Butler, J. et al. (2011) The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere. Columbia University Press
Casanova, J. (1994) Public Religions in the Modern World. Chicago: Chicago
University Press
Davie, G. (2013) The Sociology of Religion. London: Sage. Chapter 1.
De Vries, H. (2008) (ed.), Religion. Beyond a Concept. New York: Fordham University Press
Mellor, P.A. and Shilling, C. (2014) Sociology of the Sacred. London: Sage.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

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

8.1 Consolidate knowledge about how religion shapes human identities and social relationships
8.2 Demonstrate in-depth appreciation of how religion constitutes a basis for the creation, reproduction and transformation of society and culture
8.3 Conceptualise the relationship between practice and belief in the contemporary era
8.4 Demonstrate systematic understanding of some of the major sociological theories which have explored the relationship between religion and society
8.5 Apply knowledge about how religious practices might be implicated in the construction, maintenance and reproduction of social inequalities
8.6 Critically evaluate the area of 'religious body pedagogics' as explored through competing notions of the habitus
8.7 Conceptualise the relationship between religious experience and different modes of materiality and media

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

9.1 Understand and critically evaluate the main dimensions of theoretical approaches towards the subjects under investigation
9.2 Interrogate and integrate diverse sources of sociological and cultural analysis and information and produce distinctive knowledge
9.3 Analyse case studies with the assistance of interdisciplinary resources,
9.4 Think critically about reading material and discuss and express arguments informed by the literature in a seminar setting
9.5 Undertake accurate investigation and description, and develop logical arguments based on an understanding of the literature and express these arguments clearly in a written format


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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