Sociology of Religion - TH608

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn 5 30 (15) PROF G Lynch checkmark-circle


The aim of this module is to enable students to think sociologically about religious life. Whilst addressing key debates within the sociology of religion (e.g. secularisation, subjectivisation), it seeks to introduce students to core concepts and methods in sociology that will enable them to understand religious life in terms of broader social structures and processes. Examples of issues covered in the module include: the nature of sociology as a discipline, macro and micro levels of analysis, the agency/structure debate and the nature of social structure, individualisation, and sociological perspectives on gender, class, emotion, materiality and belief. The significance of intersectionality between different social structures will also be discussed, and useful sources of secondary data (e.g. BRIN) will be explored. The central assessment task for the module – a case study presenting the sociological analysis of the nature and place of religion in a particular individual's life – brings these theoretical and methodological approaches together into a micro-level analysis of lived religion in a way that is informed by broader social and cultural structures. Examples of good writing in this style of sociological research are presented and explored through the module.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40

Method of assessment

100% Coursework:

Essay (2,000 words) – 25%
Case Study (5,000 words) – 75%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Clarke, P. (2011) The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Davie, G. (2007) The Sociology of Religion. Cambridge: Polity.
Furseth, I. & Repstad, P. (2006) An Introduction to the Sociology of Religion. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Hinnells, J. (ed.) (2010) The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion. 2nd edition. London: Routledge.
Riis, O. & Woodhead, L. (2010) A Sociology of Religious Emotion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Turner, B. (2010) The New Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion. Chichester: John Wiley.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of sociology as a discipline;
Demonstrate a critical appreciation of key sociological concepts and debates (e.g. in relation to structure and agency);
Analyse how religious life may be shaped in relation to social structures and processes such as secularisation, individualisation, gender and class;
Write a case study which successfully draws together clear descriptions of human experience, contexts, and practices with relevant sociological concepts and frameworks;
Critically analyse strengths and weaknesses in different interpretations of the relationship between religion and the social and cultural contexts of modernity.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 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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