The Sacred in Contemporary Society - RSST6110

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


The primary aims of this module are to give students a critical grounding in current cultural theories of the sacred, to provide them with opportunities to explore how these concepts relate to contemporary social and cultural phenomena, and to reflect on how this process might help us to refine cultural theories of the sacred. The module will enable students to distinguish between ontological and cultural theories of the sacred, and will introduce them to key cultural theorists of the sacred such as Durkheim, Shils, Bellah, and Alexander. A range of cases will also be explored to provide students with opportunities to think about how relevant concepts might relate to specific social and cultural phenomena, and to provide a basis for the analytical work they undertake in their assessed work.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40
Private Study Hours: 260
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Essay (5,000 words) – 50%
Examination (3 hours) – 50%

Reassessment methods
Reassessment Instrument: 100% Coursework

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:

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module Level 5 students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate critical understanding of the differences between ontological and cultural theories of the sacred;
2 Situate cultural theories of the sacred within broader forms of cultural theory (e.g. cultural sociology);
3 Engage critically with key cultural theorists of the sacred, demonstrating a clear understanding of their work, an ability to articulate a balanced and well-informed critique of it, and an ability to use their concepts, where appropriate, to relevant social and cultural phenomena;
4 Provide balanced and well-evidenced arguments on whether a particular contemporary cultural phenomenon can be appropriately understood in sacred terms, as well as what this suggests about the nature of the sacred as a cultural structure.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module Level 5 students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate a clear understanding of relevant literature;
2 Identify and critically evaluate sources relevant to a particular theory or debate;
3 Identify and analyse relevant primary case material drawn from outside academic texts (e.g. news media).


  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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