PHIL1304: World Religions

Matthew M. Daude, Ph.D.

Synonym: 24231
Fall, 2001

7:05-9:45 PM
RGC 328 

Course Description

The ACC catalogue describes this course as "A study of religious consciousness and the major religions of the world including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam."

There are no prerequisites for World Religions. A passing score or the equivalent on the reading portion of the TASP is required, and I highly recommend a passing score or the equivalent on the writing portion.

While our main purpose is to explore the major "living" religious traditions of the world, I will give the class some latitude to pursue other interests. Talk to me about particular topics or traditions you would like to discuss.

Required Texts/Materials

Smart, N. Worldviews
Occhiogrosso, P. The Joy of Sects

These texts are available in the ACC bookstore. As the course unfolds, I will recommend excerpts from scriptures of various religions. I will also post material of interest to my website.

Instructional Methodology

I will use a variety of media in my presentations, perhaps including films, web material, etc. There will also be group work and group presentations to the class. Fieldwork is a course requirement: you are required to attend at least two religious events during the course of the semester and submit essays concerning the events.

The major form of individual assessment will be exams and writing assignments (essays, etc.). I may also use online forms to gather information about your progress in the coursework. I would prefer that assignments be submitted by email wherever possible.

I have set up a listserv for this class for additional discussion of issues that we do not cover in class.

Course Rationale

Religion has been and continues to be one of the principal forces that have shaped human societies and history. For this reason, a basic understanding of the major religions of the world affords both a deeper appreciation of other cultures and traditions and a richer understanding of ourselves and our own culture.

PHIL1304 Objectives

Departmental Course Goals

  1. To become familiar with the major religious traditions, belief systems, and communities in the contemporary world
  2. To examine the ways in which religion provides meaning and order in human life


  1. Students will demonstrate understanding of the central beliefs and concepts of major living religious traditions of the world, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
  2. Students will demonstrate familiarity with the structure and ritual life of religious communities.
  3. Students will demonstrate a basic grasp of the methodology of the study of religion.

Coursework and Grading Policy

Your grade for this course will be based on exams, collaborative work, and written work demonstrating the pursuit of the objectives of the course. (See the Coursework Guide for a more detailed explanation of the written work.)  The three exams and two religious event essays form the basic component and are required of all students. You may complete additional components for a higher grade, as indicated in the following table:

To earn a C
  1. Complete the three core exams
  2. Complete two religious event essays
  3. Participate in group work
  4. The average of your grades must be at least a C
To earn a B
  1. Complete the three core exams
  2. Complete four religious event essays
  3. Participate in group work
  4. The average of your grades must be at least a B
To earn an A
  1. Complete the three core exams
  2. Complete four religious event essays
  3. Participate in group work
  4. Complete a research essay
  5. The average of your grades must be an A.

In any case, the average of your grades will determine the course grade. (For example, if you completed the exams, four religious event essays, and the research essay, but your average is a B, your course grade will still be a B. Quality should be of greater concern than quantity!)

The calculation of your grade depends on whether you pursue a C, B, or A. Participation in group work is 10% of the grade for all plans. Two religious events/essays weigh the same as one exam, and the research essay weighs the same as one exam. Here is the relative weight of each assignment for each plan: 

  C plan B plan A plan
Exams 67.5 54 45
Two Events/Essays 22.5    
Four Events/Essays   36 30
Research Essay     15
Group work 10 10 10

Due dates for written work and exam dates will be arranged in class and posted on the main page for your course. Please note that I will not accept work after the stated due date, except by prior agreement. All written work done outside of class must be typed (using a standard font—no italics!) and double-spaced, and I prefer that you submit all written work done outside of class by email. Please see my Course Policies for further information.

I expect everyone to participate in class discussion. Class participation should be informed. By this I mean that everyone should come to class having read and thought about the assignment. We only meet one evening a week—be prepared. Religion is often a difficult subject to discuss openly, so the conventions of respect and responsibility I discuss in my Course Policies are of particular importance in this course.


Review my Course Policies online at 

How to contact me

Office Rio Grande, Attaché 210
Voicemail 223-3012
ACC email
Instructional email
Instructional Web

Office Hours

Consult my instructional web page for office hours. I will also be available by appointment (online or in my office). I will conduct some of my office hours online using MSN Messenger Services and NetMeeting. For more information on Messenger and NetMeeting, see the resources page inside the online classroom. 

Course Outline

This is a very brief overview of the course content. See the main page for a more detailed outline.

  1. Introduction to the academic study of religion
  2. The Religions of South and Southeast Asia
  3. The Religions of East Asia
  4. The Islamic Crescent
  5. The Modern West
  6. Conclusions: Religion in the 21st Century

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This page was last updated 03/01/2009 07:09:05 PM by mdaude.