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Undergraduate Religious Studies at McMaster specializes in:

Asian Religious Traditions:

We teach a broad range of courses covering the doctrine and practice of the religions of Asia (particularly India, China, and Japan) from pre-modern times to the present day. Courses may concentrate on a specific tradition, such as Buddhism, or on a variety of religions found in a particular geographical area within Asia. Particular attention is given to the appearance of religious themes in popular culture as well as the ways in which religious meaning is constructed through narrative. The area offers a solid foundation for those who would like to specialize in the study of Asia more broadly, as well as a number of courses for those interested in particular religious traditions. We offer two years of Sanskrit to students interested in developing specialized interests in Asian Religions.

Biblical Studies:

Our courses cover the entire Bible together with the history and cultural world in which it was formed. Students can take a broad, comprehensive introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and to the New Testament or they can concentrate on more detailed study of specific sections and individual books. Other courses focus on themes and topics throughout the Bible as a whole, or explore the many and diverse ways the Bible has been interpreted throughout the centuries in church and synagogue, in literature and popular culture and in film. The ancient world of the Bible is examined through archaeology, history and the social sciences.

Western Religious Traditions:

Judaism:

Our courses cover Jewish history, thought, and culture, from ancient to modern and contemporary times, and from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.  Students have the opportunity to study two years of Biblical Hebrew, to apply for funds to study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and to pursue the Interdisciplinary Minor in Jewish Studies.

Christianity:

This area offers a broad range of courses covering the story of Christian belief and culture from their beginnings to the present day. Particular attention is given to the history of Christian thought, including the development of Christian doctrine, various approaches to Christian ethics and the interpretation of Scripture, and Christian mysticism and spirituality. Christian art is the special focus of one course, and is touched upon in several others. The area offers a solid foundation for those who would like to specialize in Christian studies more broadly, as well as a variety of courses from which to choose for those with particular interests.

Islam:

Students can take a wide range of courses in Islam. Courses focus on the early history of Islam; the role of the Qur’an in molding the socio-political lives of the early Muslim; Islam’s encounter with the West; and the impact of modernization on the Muslim world. "Islam in North America" deals with pivotal issues including how Muslims are making significant contributions to shaping North American society and Muslim integration in the North American milieu. The course on Islamic mysticism examines early Sufi doctrines and the development of Sufi orders and the eventual systematization of Sufi teachings.

Religion & Culture:

An exciting and diverse array of courses in the Religion and Culture area are available to students. Courses are typically focused on contemporary experiences from a variety of religious viewpoints. A number of courses focus on the intersection of religion and the body, such as religious experiences and teachings about death and dying, health and healing, and gender. Courses on pilgrimage and non-violence teachings are also offered. Geographically focused courses examine Japan's civilization and popular culture; religious traditions in Hamilton; and cults in North America. Other course offerings focus solely on Islam in North America and in the modern world. 

Religion, Philosophy & Politics:

Courses in this area explore fundamental questions about ethics, politics, and religion by reading classic and contemporary works of philosophy, theology, literature, critical theory, and popular culture from across the Western tradition. We study religious thought and other textual traditions from the times of ancient Greece, medieval Christianity, and the modern West.  Our courses complement study in Philosophy, Political Science, and English and Cultural Studies.

For Undergraduate Program Inquiries:

Celia E. Rothenberg


Associate Professor | Chair of Undergraduate Affairs, Religious Studies