Summer 2019 - HUM 130 C100

Introduction to Religious Studies (3)

Class Number: 3072

Delivery Method: Distance Education


  • Course Times + Location:

    Distance Education

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 9, 2019
    Fri, 12:00–3:00 p.m.



An introduction to concepts central to the academic study of religion exploring various relevant methodologies. Provides a framework for understanding the many ways in which humans experience the phenomenon of the sacred through symbol, ritual, doctrine and experience in a variety of religious traditions and cultures. Students who have taken HUM 230 prior to 2007 may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities Equivalent Courses: GS230 HUM230 Breadth-Humanities.


The word “religion” as used today refers to a complex and sometimes incoherent array of ideas. Not long ago many thought that religions organizations and religious views would decline as scientific knowledge and education spread, but clearly that has not been the case. The power of religion is very much present with us today. On one page of a recent Vancouver newspaper were references to the American Religious Right, the Dalai Lama, and the Canadian Council of Imams. What are we to make of the religious or spiritual elements of human life today and what language is useful to discuss it? In this course, we will focus on five of the worlds most influential religions- Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam- by considering their basic teachings along with key texts and contemporary writings from adherents of each tradition. We will consider how these traditions give expression to religious experience and how they address such issues as the problem of suffering and evil, the role of faith, existence of free will and the ultimate goal of human life.

This course will introduce some of the challenges that religion faces in modern times and the difficulties academics face in interpreting a religious tradition. We will explore some modern theories and methods of religious studies which scholars utilize to understand various aspects of religious behaviour, and consider our own search for meaning and how that meaning is expressed. The aim of this course is to respectfully approach the various human phenomena that we call "religious” using the tools of critical thinking and to develop sensitivity to subtle levels of human meaning.


  • Assignment 1 20%
  • Assignment 2 20%
  • Graded Discussion 25%
  • Final Exam 35%




  • The Bhagavad-Gita :Krishna's Counsel in Time of War Bantam Classics, reissue edition (1991)
    Author: Miller, Barbara Stoler Miller
    ISBN: 9780553213652
    Publisher: Penguin Random House / Bantam Books
    Place: Canada
  • THE OTHER SHORE, Revised edition (2017)
    Author: Thich Nhat Hanh
    ISBN: 9781941529140
    Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada/ Palm Leaves Press
    Place: Canada
  • Think World Religions Upper Saddle River, NJ , 2 edition (2012)
    Author: Robson, Roy R.
    ISBN: 9780205934430
    Publisher: Pearson - Canada
    Place: Don Mills, ON
  • Night, Reissue edition (2006)
    Author: Wiesel, Ellie
    ISBN: 9780374500016
    Publisher: Raincoast Books / MacMillan / Bantam Books
    Place: Richmond, BC

Centre for Online and Distance Education Notes:

All CODE Courses are delivered through Canvas unless noted otherwise on the course outline.

Required Readings listed on the course outlines are the responsibility of the student to purchase. Textbooks are available for purchase at the SFU Bookstore on the Burnaby campus or online through the Bookstore's website.

All CODE courses have an Additional Course Fee of $40

Exams are scheduled to be written on the SFU Burnaby campus at the noted time and date (unless noted as a take-home exam). 
If your course has a take-home exam, please refer to Canvas for further details. 

Students are responsible for following all Exam Policies and Procedures (e.g., missing an exam due to illness).

This course outline was accurate at the time of publication but is subject to change. Please check your course details in your online delivery method, such as Canvas.

*Important Note for U.S. citizens: As per the U.S. Department of Education, programs offered in whole or in part through telecommunications, otherwise known as distance education or correspondence are ineligible for Federal Direct Loans. This also includes scenarios where students who take distance education courses outside of their loan period and pay for them with their own funding, and attempt to apply for future Federal Direct Loans. 

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Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.