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PPR.357: Religion and Politics

Tutor:Katan Elder
Term: Lent

Course Description

This course focuses on key contexts and developments in the inter-relationship between religion and politics across the world. The major themes will be: (i) the thesis that the influence of religion has declined in the western world, and its applicability to Christianity in the U.S.A; (ii) the thesis that there has been a resurgence of religion in politics in the world, and its relevance to the interpretation of politics in selected Islamic states (with special reference to Judaism and the Middle-East); (iii) constitutional attempts to negotiate the role of religion in a multi-religious polity, with special reference to Hinduism and Indian secularism; (iv) the management of religion through the concept of a state religion, through a comparison of the monarchies of the United Kingdom, Thailand and Japan.

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe and analyse various ways in which religion has been understood in political contexts.
  • Appraise the manner in which general theories about the role of religion in politics have actually engaged with the experience of different traditions and countries.
  • Demonstrate a critical and informed awareness of the global diversity of the interaction between religion and politics.
  • Compare and contrast experiences within that global diversity.
  • Demonstrate some familiarity with the specific recent history of a range of traditions and countries.
  • Use a range of published materials in engaging with the conceptual challenges of cross-cultural study of religion and politics and apply an understanding of religion to the study of politics and vice versa.


40% coursework and 60% exam.
Coursework: 1 essay of 3000 words.  Exam: 2 hours. 

Teaching Method:  

Lecture (2 hours) weekly, and seminar (1 hour) fortnightly.

Introductory Reading

Bruce, S                                                     Politics and Religion
Haynes, J                                                   Religion in Global Politics
Ling, T (ed)                                                 Buddhism and Politics in Southeast Asia
Plant, R                                                      Politics, Theology and History.

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