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Religion from a Social-scientific Perspective

Department: Religious Studies
Coordinator: Dr. Paul Vermeer
Accessible to: B2 and B3 students of the humanities, the social sciences and management studies
Prerequisites: B1 in the humanities, the social sciences or management studies
Semester: 2


Why are some people religious, while others are not? Why do people convert to (another) religion? Why is religion a very influential force in some societies, while its influence is declining in other societies? When and how does religion contribute to social cohesion or create divisiveness? Why do people often turn to religion when they are confronted with unbearable suffering, grave injustice or incomprehensible events? What is the relationship between religiosity and existential insecurity? Is religion an essential aspect of human life or can we do without it? Does religion offer you a good life and make you happy or a better person? If you are interested in questions like these, this could be the minor of your choice.

The minor Religion from a Social-scientific Perspective offers a broad orientation on the meaning and functions of religion from anthropological, sociological and psychological perspectives. Religion is not considered from a theological or confessional perspective, but studied by means of empirical, social-scientific research methods.

  • In the course, Anthropology of religion, we aim to understand religion as a cultural phenomenon, both from a theoretical perspective and on the basis of direct observation. By this comparison we aim to explain the diversity of religious practices and ideas worldwide.
  • In the course, Sociology of religion, we focus on the interaction between religion and society and try to explain how this interaction affects both religion and society.
  • In the course, Psychology of religion, we hone in on the individual. We will study the interaction between religion and the human mind in order to understand the psychological conditions and functions of religion.

Taken together, these three approaches offer us a broad social-scientific perspective on religion and thus help us to answer questions like the ones stated above.

Students have to register for the minor as a whole as well as for the individual courses.

Period (semester) Course Course ID Credits
3 (sem. 2) Sociology of Religion FTR-RSBA110 5
3 (sem. 2) Anthropology of Religion FTR-RSBA206 5
3&4 (sem. 2) Psychology of Religion FTR-RSBA207 5
Minorcode Religion from a social-scientific perspective FTR-MI-RS100-12