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Department of Philosophy

Religious Studies Courses

The philosophy department administers a suite of courses in Religious Studies. These are Lower-Level Liberal Studies courses, and so all Ryerson undergraduate students are eligible to enroll in them. To find out whether these courses will be running in a given semester, see the Liberal Studies Course Offerings page. These courses are also sometimes offered through the Chang School of Continuing Education.


REL100: Introduction to Religious Studies

This course is an introduction to some of the foundational readings and ideas of religious studies. What is religion? What are its origins? How is the sacred different from the profane? This course examines key figures and texts from anthropology, sociology, psychology, and philosophy in an effort to understand the complexity of religious phenomena. Some of the features of religion to be discussed are ritual, sacred space and time, spirituality, faith-community, and morality.

REL101: Introduction to World Religions

This course is a survey of the history, social and political context, beliefs, practices, and influence of the major religious traditions of the world. The course will introduce students to the religions of Indian origin (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism), the religions of Chinese origin (Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism), and the religions of Semitic origin (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). This course presupposes no religious or anti-religious perspective.

REL 200: Introduction to Hinduism and Buddhism

This course provides an introduction to Hinduism and Buddhism. We will explore Hindu traditions in classical and contemporary terms through scriptural texts of the Ancient and Classical Brāhmaṇical or Vedic Tradition (most prominently the Upaniṣads and the Bhagavad Gītā), and the emergence of pre-modern and contemporary Hinduism. We will explore Buddhist traditions from the early development of Buddhist thought in South-Asia to the contemporary manifestations of Buddhism as a living tradition in Asia and beyond.

REL 205: Introduction to Sikhism

This course offers an introduction to the historical, cultural, and religious context in which Sikhism emerged in Punjab at the turn of the 16th century, as well as an exploration of how this tradition evolved in South Asia and around the world until today. It will consider Sikh worldviews, beliefs, ritual, practices, and institutions, with a special emphasis on Sikhism in Canada.

REL 210: Introduction to Chinese Religions

This course is a survey of the historical development of the Chinese religious landscape from the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE) to the present. It focuses on the beliefs and practices of China's primary religious traditions (Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and popular religion), while also attending to the influence of Western missionary traditions (Christianity and Islam), the anti-traditionalist and anti-religious movements of the 20th century, and the roles of religion in contemporary China.

REL 215: Introduction to Judaism

This course introduces students to the beliefs, practices, and history of Judaism. Readings begin with the Hebrew Bible, or Tanakh, followed by the Rabbinic writings of the Talmud and its theological underpinnings, Mediæval literature, and mysticism. The course will emphasize the diversity of Jewish experience and thought, and the cultural contexts of Judaism from its beginnings to the present day.

REL 220: Introduction to Christianity

This course is a survey of Christianity. Students will be introduced to distinctively Christian beliefs and practices, its history, institutions, and foundational texts, and its cultural and social influences. An important focus will be three major episodes in Christian thought: the Arian Controversy, the Reformation in Western Christianity, and contemporary developments such as Liberation Theology and Feminist Theology.

REL 225: Introduction to Islam

This course will be a survey of the religion of Islam, in which students will be introduced to Muslim religious beliefs and practices, schools of Islamic learning, and historical and contemporary concerns. The course will emphasize the diversity of Muslim experience and thought, and the cultural contexts of Islam from its beginnings to the present day.

Religious Studies Instructors