Religion, Study of
All courses, faculty listings, and curricular and degree requirements described herein are subject to change or deletion without notice. Updates may be found on the Academic Senate website: http://senate.ucsd.edu/catalog-copy/approved-updates/.
As an academic field, the study of religion focuses on a set of problems, questions, and frames for intellectual attention about how human beings inhabit their social and cultural worlds in relation to what they conceive as more-than-human powers. World religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism, provide a rich set of data through which to explore such issues. But religion is bigger than that, for as an emergent phenomenon, religion appertains to the fullness of the human world. Religion emerges from literature, history, social organization, imagination, emotions, culture, and even the physical body itself.
For this reason, the hallmark of UC San Diego’s Program for the Study of Religion is its interdisciplinary and interdepartmental structure. There is no discipline in the humanities or social sciences that does not provide its own rigorous and edifying window onto the phenomena of religion. Faculty from anthropology, communication, ethnic studies, history, Judaic studies, literature, philosophy, political science, sociology, and visual arts provide students with the opportunity to examine religious artifacts, practices, performances, texts, institutions, and communities within a particular cultural and historical context and in the context of comparable manifestations within the general history of religions.
Because academic approaches to religion are so diverse, the program is committed to giving its students the widest practicable latitude to develop their own program of learning within the field. A concentration in the Study of Religion aims at helping students to gather the information, the analytic tools, as well as the critical acumen needed to think clearly and deeply about the place of religion in their own lives and the lives of their fellow human beings. Additionally, the program seeks to develop students’ appreciation of the difficulties and possibilities inherent in undertaking a critical, disciplined, cross-cultural study of religion; this includes making sure that students recognize the difference between confessional and scholarly discourses on religion. The program judges its success by whether its students gain a contextual understanding of the religious phenomena they investigate, and whether they are able to usefully interrogate their source materials in order to develop analytical skills in the practice of interpretation, oral discussion, and writing.
Since the program endorses an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to the study of religion, lower-division preparation should be wide and varied. Lower-division courses in which religion figures prominently (e.g., Introduction to Religion, Comparative World Religions, The Making of the Modern World, or the Revelle College Humanities Program), as well as courses that focus on textual and contextual analysis and employ the analytical tools and conceptual categories of the human sciences, would all be useful in preparing the student for a major in the Study of Religion. The program strongly encourages foreign language study. The ability to read the languages of original sources and of modern scholarship is highly recommended, especially for students planning to attend graduate school in religion.
The major in the Study of Religion consists of twelve upper-division courses, achieving a balance between courses that focus on a single religious tradition or issue and those that explore various traditions and methodologies. Requirements for the major are as follows:
RELI 101 Requirement
All majors must take RELI 101: Tools and Methods in the Study of Religion
One course must be a seminar, normally RELI 189. To use a different seminar, you must petition the program’s director. You may use your seminar to satisfy a distribution requirement and/or the tradition requirement.
Four courses must satisfy distribution requirements. All majors must take at least two upper-division courses within the Division of Arts and Humanities, as well as two upper-division courses within the Division of Social Sciences. Courses are to be selected from the approved course list in consultation with your faculty adviser. Neither RELI 101 nor lower-division courses can be used to satisfy this requirement.
Six elective courses from the approved course list to be selected in consultation with your faculty adviser. You may include two lower-division courses among your electives. However, only lower-division courses with the RELI rubric are permitted. There are no exceptions to this rule. Students should see the program coordinator for further details. Please note that you must complete a total of twelve upper-division courses for the major. If you elect to apply lower-division RELI courses to the electives requirement, you will need to take additional upper-division electives to satisfy the twelve upper-division course requirement.
At least two of your twelve courses must focus on the same religious tradition. Courses that satisfy this requirement take a single religious tradition as their primary object of investigation and are marked as such on the approved course list.
Students may choose to pursue the Study of Religion as their second major. In such cases, it may be possible for up to two courses to overlap with the other major. Students should consult the program coordinator for further information.
Honors in the Study of Religion
The program for the Study of Religion offers an Honors Program for students who demonstrate excellence in the major. The minimum eligibility requirements for the Honors Program are stated below. In most cases students are completing their last two quarters (winter and spring) when they enroll in the Honors Program.
Minimum Eligibility Requirements
- GPA of 3.3 overall and a 3.5 in the major to enter or remain in the Honors Program
- RELI 101 completed prior to, or concurrently with, the honors project
- Junior or senior standing (completion of at least 90 units)
- Eight units of RELI 196AH-BH taken over two quarters (typically winter and spring)
- Research paper (at least twenty pages; most students write between thirty and fifty pages)
Students interested in the Honors Program should consult with the program coordinator for a detailed list of requirements and an application. Participation in the Honors Program is contingent upon the prior approval of the honors thesis research topic by the director. Honors proposals are due at the program office by the tenth week of the quarter (usually fall quarter of the senior year) prior to being enrolled. Final approval must take place before the first day of the quarter in which the student plans to enroll in RELI 196AH-BH.
The honors student’s faculty director must certify by the end of the first term that the student is making timely progress toward the completion of his or her project.
The notations Distinction, High Distinction, and Highest Distinction will be determined on the following basis: major GPA, the grade for the research paper, and the grade for the public presentation.
The minor in the Study of Religion consists of seven courses, of which five must be upper division. Requirements for the minor are as follows:
RELI 101 Requirement
All minors must take RELI 101: Tools and Methods in the Study of Religion.
Two courses must satisfy distribution requirements. All minors must take at least one upper-division course within the Division of Arts and Humanities, as well as one upper-division course within the Division of Social Sciences. RELI 101 cannot be used to satisfy distribution requirements.
Four elective courses from the approved course list to be selected in consultation with your faculty adviser. You may include two lower-division courses among your electives. In addition to lower-division RELI courses, some students may apply two lower-division college requirements to the minor (e.g., Revelle students may apply HUM 1 and HUM 2, and ERC students may apply MMW 11 and MMW 12). Students should see the program coordinator for further details.
At least one of your seven courses must focus on a single religious tradition. Courses that satisfy this requirement take a single religious tradition as their primary object of investigation and are marked as such on the approved course list.
All students are assigned a faculty adviser and are encouraged to meet with their adviser at least once a quarter to develop their course of study. Additional advising information may be obtained from the program coordinator, Literature Building, First Floor, Room 139.
Study of Religion majors are encouraged to participate in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) or UC San Diego’s Opportunities Abroad Program (OAP), while still making progress toward completing their major. Students considering this option should discuss their plans with the departmental faculty adviser before going abroad, and courses taken abroad must be approved by the department. Students may petition to use up to three upper-division courses as electives for the major and up to two toward the minor. For more information on departmental procedures for study abroad see “Undergraduate Program” at http://religion.ucsd.edu/. EAP is detailed in the Educational Abroad Program or visit http://programsabroad.ucsd.edu. Financial aid applies to study abroad, and scholarships are available. Contact the Programs Abroad Office in the International Center.
Career Opportunities and Preparation for Graduate Study
Among its many aims, the major in the Study of Religion is designed to develop fundamental skills in critical thinking, comparative analysis, research, and written expression. As such, the BA degree is appropriate for careers in education, government, business, and nonprofit agencies. It is also an excellent preparation for graduate study in a variety of fields and disciplines.
Students interested in earning a California teaching credential from UC San Diego should contact the Teacher Education Program for further information.
Students are encouraged to consult the program director for further information about career opportunities and graduate study. Information is also available on the program’s website.
Approved Elective Courses
The following lower- and upper-division courses are offered on a regular basis, although not every course is available every year. Please contact the program coordinator for approved courses in any given quarter or visit the program’s website, http://religion.ucsd.edu. Students may petition other courses, including independent study and Education Abroad Program courses when appropriate.
ANTH 1. Introduction to Culture
HUM 1. The Foundations of Western Civilization: Israel and Greece
HUM 2. Rome, Christianity, and the Middle Ages
MMW 11. Prehistory and Ancient Foundations
MMW 12. Classical and Medieval Traditions
PHIL 31. Introduction to Ancient Philosophy
RELI 1. Introduction to Religion
RELI 2. Comparative World Religions
SOCI 1A, B. The Study of Society
Single tradition designations: (B) Buddhism, (C) Christianity, (EA) East Asian, (H) Hinduism, (I) Islam, (J) Judaism.
Arts and Humanities
HIAF 134. Islam in Contemporary African Societies (I)
HIEA 119. Religion and Popular Culture in East Asia (SOCI 128) (EA)
HIEA 120. Classical Chinese Philosophy and Culture
HIEA 126. The Silk Road in Chinese and Japanese History
HIEA 135. History of Thought and Religion in China: Buddhism (B)
HIEA 136. History of Thought and Religion in China: Daoism (EA)
HIEA 137. Women and Family in Chinese History
HIEA 168. Topics in Classical and Medieval Chinese History (when topic covers religion)
HIEU 101. Greece in the Classical Age
HIEU 104. Byzantine Empire
HIEU 104A. Byzantine Empire, Third through Seventh Centuries
HIEU 104B. Byzantine Empire, Seventh through Eleventh Centuries
HIEU 104C. Byzantine Empire, Eleventh through Fifteenth Centuries
HIEU 105. The Early Christian Church (C)
HIEU 110. The Rise of Europe
HIEU 111. Europe in the Middle Ages
HIEU 115. The Pursuit of the Millennium (C)
HIEU 125. Reformation Europe
HIEU 132. Germany from Luther to Bismarck
HIEU 157. Religion and the Law in Modern European History
HIEU 158. Why Hitler? How Auschwitz?
HIEU 159. Three Centuries of Zionism, 1648–1948 (J)
HIEU 163. Special Topics in Medieval History (when topic covers religion)
HIEU 171. Special Topics in Twentieth-Century Europe (when topic covers religion)
HIEU 182. The Muslim Experience in Contemporary European Society (I)
HINE 102. The Jews in Their Homeland in Antiquity (J)
HINE 103. The Jewish Diaspora in Antiquity (J)
HINE 106S. Apocalyptic Judaism (J)
HINE 107. Ancient Egypt: History and Culture
HINE 108. The Middle East Before Islam
HINE 112A. Great Stories from the Hebrew Bible (J)
HINE 112B. Great Poems from the Hebrew Bible (J)
HINE 113. Ancient Near Eastern Mythology
HINE 114. The History of the Islamic Middle East
HINE 116. The Middle East in the Age of European Empires (1798–1914)
HINE 118. The Middle East in the Twentieth Century
HINE 119. US Mideast Policy Post WWII
HINE 122. Politicization of Religion in Middle East
HINE 126. Iranian Revolution in Historical Perspective
HINE 160. Special Topics in the Bible and Ancient Near East
HINE 161. Seminar in the Hebrew Bible (J)
HINE 162. Anthropology and the Hebrew Bible (J)
HINE 166. Nationalism in the Middle East
HINE 170. Special Topics in Jewish History (J)
HINE 186. Special Topics in Middle Eastern History (when topic covers religion)
HISC 101B. Medieval Science in Latin West, ca. 500–1500
HISC 162. Problems in the History of Science and Religion
HISC 166. The Galileo Affair
HITO 101. Jews, Christians, and Muslims
HITO 103S. Gnosis and Gnosticism
HITO 104. Jews and Judaism in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds (J)
HITO 105. Jewish Modernity 1648–1948 (J)
HITO 115S. Myth, History, and Archaeology
HITO 124. Mystical Traditions
HIUS 155A/B. Religion and Law in American Society
JUDA 100A. Introduction to the Old Testament: the Historical Books (J)
JUDA 100B. Introduction to the Old Testament: the Poetic Books (J)
JUDA 110. Introduction to Judaism (J)
LTEN 149. Topics: English Language Literature (when topic covers religion)
LTEN 179. Topics: Arab/Muslim American Identity and Culture (when topic covers religion)
LTEU 105. Medieval Studies: Dante
LTEU 158. Single Author in Russian Literature (when topic covers religion)
LTGK 120. Topics in New Testament Greek (C)
LTWL 100. Mythology
LTWL 106. The Classical Tradition (when topic covers religion)
LTWL 129. Wisdom: The Literature of Authority
LTWL 135. The Buddhist Imaginary (B)
LTWL 138. Critical Religion Studies
LTWL 145. South Asian Religious Literature: Selected Topics (H)
LTWL 147. Readings in Mahayana Buddhism (B)
LTWL 152. Introduction to Islam (I)
LTWL 153. Literature, Religion, and Culture in Iran (I)
LTWL 157. Iranian Film
LTWL 158A. Topics in the New Testament (C)
LTWL 158B. Topics in Early Christian Texts and Cultures (C)
LTWL 158C. Topics in Other Christianities (C)
LTWL 168. Death and Desire in India (H)
LTWL 169. Yoga, Body, and Transformation
LTWL 172. Special Topics in Literature (when topic covers religion)
PHIL 104. The Rationalists
PHIL 185. Philosophy of Religion
Study of Religion
RELI 101. Tools and Methods in the Study of Religion
RELI 110A. The Modern Study of Religion: Religion in Modernity
RELI 110B. The Modern Study of Religion: Social and Cultural Theories of Religion
RELI 111. Texts and Contexts: The Holy Book in Judaism and Christianity
RELI 112. Texts and Contexts: The Holy Book in Islam (I)
RELI 113. Texts and Contexts: Textual Communities in South Asia (H)
RELI 131. Topics in Religion and Sexuality
RELI 132. Topics in Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy
RELI 134. Topics in American Religion
RELI 140. Death and Religion
RELI 141. Public Sphere and Religion
RELI 142. Secularization and Religion
RELI 143. Topics in Performing Religion
RELI 144. Devils and Demons in Christianity (C)
RELI 145. Communication, Technology, and Religion
RELI 146. Topics in the Religions of Antiquity
RELI 147. Pagan Europe and Its Christian Aftermath (C)
RELI 148. Religion and Women’s Activisms
RELI 150. Religion and Cinema
RELI 188. Special Topics in Religion
RELI 189. Seminar in Religion
RELI 196AH-BH. Honors Thesis in Religion
VIS 117A. Narrative Structures
VIS 117I. Western and Nonwestern Rituals and Ceremonies
VIS 120A. Greek Art
VIS 120B. Roman Art
VIS 120C. Late Antique Art
VIS 121B. Castles, Cathedrals, and Cities
VIS 121D. The Illuminated Manuscript in the Middle Ages
VIS 122AN. Renaissance Art
VIS 122D. Michelangelo
VIS 123AN. Between Spirit and Flesh: Northern Art of the Early Renaissance
VIS 124BN. Art and the Enlightenment
VIS 126BN. The Art and Civilization of the Ancient Maya
VIS 126I. Southwest American Indian Art
VIS 126K. Oceanic Art
VIS 128A. Topics in Premodern Art History (when topic covers religion)
VIS 128B. Topics in Early Modern Art History (when topic covers religion)
ANAR 142. The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel
ANAR 143. Archaeology, Anthropology, and the Bible
ANAR 144. Pharaohs, Mummies, and Pyramids: Introduction to Egyptology
ANAR 153. The Mysterious Maya
ANAR 154. Aztecs and Their Ancestors
ANAR 158. The Inca: Empire of the Andes
ANSC 100. Special Topics in Sociocultural Anthropology (when topic covers religion)
ANSC 104. Anthropology of Fantasy
ANSC 120. Anthropology of Religion
ANSC 130. Hinduism (H)
ANSC 132. Modernity in Brazil
ANSC 133. Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East
ANSC 134. Global Islam (I)
ANSC 136. Traditional Chinese Society
ANSC 137. Chinese Popular Religion (EA)
ANSC 154. Gender and Religion
ANSC 160. Nature, Culture, and Environmentalism
ANSC 167. Rituals and Celebrations
ANSC 189. The Anthropology of the End of the World
COMM 176. Communication and Religion
ETHN 110. Cultural World Views of Native Americans
ETHN 161. Black Politics and Protest Since 1941
ETHN 166. Topics: Arab/Muslim American Identity and Culture (when topic covers religion)
ETHN 188. African Americans, Religion, and the City
ETHN 189. Special Topics in Ethnic Studies (when topic covers religion)
POLI 110A. Citizens and Saints: Political Thought from Plato to Augustine
POLI 110B. Sovereign Subjects in the Modern State: Machiavelli to Rousseau
POLI 121. Government and Politics of the Middle East
POLI 121B. Politics of Israel
SOCI 100. Classical Sociological Theory
SOCI 128. Religion and Popular Culture in East Asia (HIEA 119) (EA)
SOCI 154. Religious Institutions in America
SOCI 156. Sociology of Religion
SOCI 157. Religion in Contemporary Society
SOCI 158. Islam in the Modern World (I)
SOCI 160. Sociology of Culture
SOCI 177. International Terrorism
SOCI 188E. Community and Social Change in Africa
SOCI 188F. Modern Jewish Societies and Israeli Society
SOCI 188G. Chinese Society
SOCI 189. Special Topics in Comparative-Historical Sociology (when topic covers religion)