\ Religious Studies 709.01: Advanced Critical Discourses in the Study of Religion
University of Calgary Department of Religious Studies Course Outline
Prof. E. Segal
Department of
Religious Studies
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive N. W.
Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2N 1N4

Office: SS 1302
Phone: (403) 220-5886
Fax: (403) 210-0801
Email: elsegal@ucalgary.ca


Religious Studies 609.02/709.02 L01

Course Outline, Winter 2011

Advanced Critical Discourses in the Study of Religion

Class time: M 14:00 - 16:45


Eliezer Segal


Social Sciences 1314

Office hours:

By appointment


(403) 220-5886 (main office)




World-Wide Web:



Course Description:

This is a graduate level seminar, and its primary focus will be for each student to identify the method and theory (more than one can be considered) that they anticipate using for their research at the graduate level. The methods and theories that will be considered should be appropriate to the kinds of research usually associated with the specific religion or facet of religion in question.

In addition, the students are expected to demonstrate awareness of the broader aspects of method and theory that function within the discipline of religious studies.

Walter Capps' Religious Studies: The Making of a Discipline will be used to investigate how methods and theories are used in the study of religion. Particular emphasis will be given to the description, function and language of religion, as well as the comparison of religions.

Course Requirements:

Two papers are required for the course:

  1. The first paper will follow the presentations of Capps in order to assess and critique what he refers to as the “formative questions” about religion (p. xvii). Students will be encouraged to work with one of the methodologies / formative questions that applies to their specific field.
  2. A second paper is to be presented in a course seminar toward the end of term, and it will apply the methodological approaches addressed in the previous paper to specific religious phenomena or questions. This paper will be at an advanced level of research specialization. It is recognized that such research might utilize languages or other knowledge that is beyond the expertise of the course instructor. Where necessary and appropriate, such papers will be assessed in consultation with competent specialists.
  3. Each student will discuss one of the written assignments in a manner adapted to an oral presentation (i.e., it preferably should not be a mere recitation of the written essay). The grade for this assignment will take into consideration the clarity of the delivery and the student's ability to handle questions from the other participants, as well as participation and preparedness at other students’ presentations.
  Item Date % Weight

Seminar presentation and participation

Date for the presentation to be determined early in the term.



First research paper (4,000-5,000 words)

Due February 28



Second research paper (5,000- 7,500 words)

due April 15


There will not be a Registrar's office scheduled final examination in this course.


A letter grade will be assigned to each component of the course according to the University’s Graduate Studies Calendar 2010-2011:

Grade Grade Point Value Graduate Description
A+ 4.0 Outstanding
A 4.0 Excellent--superior performance showing comprehensive understanding of the subject matter
A- 3.7 Very good performance
B+ 3.3 Good performance
B 3.0 Satisfactory performance
Note: The grade point value (3.0) associated with this grade is the minimum acceptable average that a graduate student must maintain throughout the program as computed at the end of each registration anniversary year of the program.
B- 2.7 Minimum pass for students in the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
Note: A student who receives a B- or lower in two or more courses will be required to withdraw regardless of their grade point average unless the program recommends otherwise.
Individual programs may require a higher minimum passing grade.
C+ 2.3
C 2.0
C- 1.7
D+ 1.3
D 1.0
F 0.0 All grades below B- are indicative of failure at the graduate level and cannot be counted toward Faculty of Graduate Studies course requirements. A student who receives a grade of F will normally be required to withdraw unless the program recommends otherwise.

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