Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024

Module ANTH30M7: Religion and Contemporary Society

Department: Anthropology

ANTH30M7: Religion and Contemporary Society

Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • ANTH2051 Politics and Economics OR ANTH2161 Kinship and Religion


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students with an understanding of how socio-cultural anthropologists have examined the relationship between religion and contemporary society.
  • To engage critically with current theoretical debates in anthropology of religion.
  • To explore how socio-cultural anthropologists can contribute to the study of public debates pertaining to religion and society.
  • To provide students with a set of critical tools to examine religion as a category of practice and as a category of analysis.


  • Key theoretical frameworks in the current research in anthropology of religion and society.
  • Anthropology of religion at the intersection with political anthropology.
  • Religion and secularism in the UK and beyond.
  • Religion and minority experience.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the course, students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate a strong understanding of key theoretical paradigms in anthropological study of religion and contemporary society.
  • Deploy theoretical approaches to critique contemporary ethnographic research in anthropology of religion.
  • Apply anthropological approaches to contemporary questions and contexts in students’ everyday lives and beyond.
  • Be competent in accessing and assimilating specialised research literature.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the course, students will be able to:
  • Apply key skills (see below) to core concepts and debates in anthropological research on religion and contemporary society.
  • Link anthropological theory on religion to contemporary events beyond the classroom.
  • Re-evaluate ethnography and theory in light of contemporary events and dynamics.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the course, students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate competence in the preparation and effective communication of research methods, data, interpretation and arguments in written form.
  • Access relevant library resources.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures will provide students with an outline of key knowledge, approaches and debates in anthropological study of religion and society, will discuss literature that students should explore, and will provide relevant examples of links to contemporary events and questions.
  • Seminars will explore ideas introduced in lectures in further detail, examine their relevance to different ethnographic contexts, and consider how they might be applied to contemporary events and dynamics.
  • Preparation for seminars and reading time will allow students to develop their understanding of material prior to seminars and written assignments.
  • Summative assessment will be a 2500-word written piece where students will apply concepts and perspectives in social anthropology to relevant ethnographic and/or media material related to the study of religion and contemporary society.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Weekly 1 hour 10
Seminars 5 Fortnightly 1 hour 5
Preparation and Reading 85
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

300 word abstract summarising the argument to be discussed in the summative assignment.

â–  Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University