1. Contact Information
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Course Description and Credit Hours
  4. Required Texts
  5. Course Objectives
  6. Student Learning Outcomes
  7. Other Course Materials
  8. Outline Of Topics
  9. Exams and Assignments
  10. Grading Policy
  11. Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework
  12. Attendance Policy
  13. Notification of Changes
  14. Custom Sections
  15. Statements on Academic Misconduct
  16. Statement On Disability Accommodations
  17. Severe Weather Protocol
  18. Pregnant Student Accommodations
  19. Religious Observances
  20. UAct Statement

Honors Intro Relig Stdy

REL 105-001Fall 2017 | 3 Credit Hours

Recitation or Discussion

Dr. Vaia Touna

Contact Information

UA Campus Directory:


UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:

No prereqs found

Course Description

Course Description and Credit Hours

Honors version of REL 100.

As a general introduction to the academic study of religion, REL 100 focuses in detail on the problem of defining religion, and identifies the theories of religion’s function or purpose implicit in each, and the practical implications (that is, social, economic, political) of defining it in this or that way. Examples where this is applied will be mainly chosen from ancient Greece.

Required Texts

Required Texts from UA Supply Store:

Course Objectives

Among this course’s many objectives are the following goals:

1.       To learn to identify and distinguish between essentialist, functionalist, and family resemblance definitions.

2.       To learn to identify and distinguish between theological and anthropocentric approaches to the study of religion.

3.       To learn to identify and distinguish between an emic and an etic viewpoint.

4.       To learn to define key concepts and identify scholars relevant to the academic study of religion.

Student Learning Outcomes

As a Core Curriculum Humanities course, REL 100’s goal is for all students to learn to define, accurately describe, and compare in a non-evaluative manner so as to find significant similarities and differences among forms of observable human behavior.

Other Course Materials


The schedule below provides a list of the readings that you will be responsible for on any given day. Doing all of your assigned readings well in advance of class is important because our lectures and discussions all presume that you have the necessary background knowledge provided by these readings. Any extra reading will be made available to you via Blackboard.

Outline of Topics

Tentative Schedule 

Th Aug. 24            Introduction to the Course

T Aug. 29               Defining Religion

                                No Class: Library Group Assignment (see course requirements)

Th Aug. 31            Introduction: What is the Study of Religion?

T Sep. 5                  Introduction: What is the Study of Religion?

Th Sep. 7               Studying Religion Chapter 1

T Sep. 12               Studying Religion Chapter 1

Th Sep. 14             Studying Religion Chapter 2

T Sep. 19               Studying Religion Chapter 2

Th Sep. 21             TEST 1

T Sep.26                Studying Religion Chapter 3

Th Sep. 28             Studying Religion Chapter 3

T Oct. 3                 Studying Religion Chapter 3

Th Sep. 5               Studying Religion Chapter 4

T. Oct. 10              Studying Religion Chapter 4

Th. Oct. 12            Studying Religion Chapter 4

T. Oct. 17              Studying Religion Chapter 5

Th. Oct. 19            Studying Religion Chapter 5

T. Oct. 24              Studying Religion Chapter 5

Th. Oct. 26            No Class Fall Break

T. Oct. 31              TEST 2

Th. Nov. 2             Studying Religion Chapter 6

T. Nov. 7               Studying Religion Chapter 6

Th. Nov. 9             Studying Religion Chapter 7

T.  Nov. 14            Studying Religion Chapter 7

Th. Nov. 16           TEST 3

T.  Nov. 21            No Class

Th. Nov. 23           No Class – Thanksgiving

T.  Nov. 28            Studying Religion Chapter 8

Th. Nov. 30           Studying Religion Chapter 8

T.  Dec. 5               Studying Religion Chapter 8

Th. Dec.7               Review 

FINAL EXAM: Tuesday, Dec. 12 à 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Exams and Assignments

1.      Attendance

Regular attendance, purchasing the course book, and adequate preparation for each day’s readings are expected and required to do well in this course. See the schedule, below, for each day’s readings.

2.      10 Quizzes (20%)

There will be 10 unannounced quizzes throughout the course relating to the readings on the day of the quiz. Each pop quiz is worth 2% of your overall course grade and will consist of two questions related to the bolded technical terms and names in each chapter of the course’s book.

3.      3 Tests (45%)

There are three multiple-choice tests. The main focus of each test is on understanding (1) the bolded technical terms in our book and (2) scholars who appear in each chapter, all of which is discussed in greater detail in the Glossary and list of scholars at the back of the book. Content from the lectures that is relevant to understanding these technical terms and scholars, is also testable material. Each test is worth 15% of your course grade for a total of 45% of your overall course grade.

4.      Course Assignment (10%)

This course has one group assignment (working in teams of 2) requiring independent work carried out in Gorgas Library. This assignment is worth 10% of your course grade.

The instructions for this assignment are as follows:

On Tuesday August 29 all students must, during class time, work with one other partner to find 5 different definitions of religion in Gorgas Library. (Do not come to class on this day but, instead, meet your partner at the library to work on this assignment). Each of the 5 definitions must be properly quoted in full and also be accompanied by a complete citation to the source of the quotation, in the following style:

From a Book

Author’s last name, first Name (year of publication). Full Book Title. City of Publication: Publisher, page number(s).

[e.g., McCutcheon, Russell (2007). Studying Religion: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 17-18. ]

From an Edited Book

Author’s last name, first name (year of publication). “Title of the Chapter.” In Name of the Editor(s), Full Book Title, page number(s). Edition. City of Publication: Publisher.

[e.g., Touna, Vaia (2012). “Redescribing Iconoclasm: Holey Frescoes and Identity Formation.” In W. Arnal, W. Braun and R. McCutcheon (eds), Failure and Nerve in the Academic Study of Religion, 218. Sheffield and Bristol: Equinox.]

From a Journal

Author’s last name, first name (year of publication). “Title of the Article.” Title of the Journal Vol. #: page number(s).

[e.g., Smith, Jonathan Z. (1996). “A Matter of Class: Taxonomies of Religion.” Harvard Theological Review 89: 387.]

You are required to find definitions only from academic sources (e.g., textbooks, scholarly books, journals, encyclopedias, etc.) will be accepted. No definitions from dictionaries will be accepted as we are not looking for examples of popular or common usage but, instead for technical, scholarly usage of the term “religion.” No definitions citing our course book will be accepted. No more than one definition from each source can be cited. Citations of web sources will not be accepted. Students are recommended to browse the BL section of the library (shelved in the basement of Gorgas Library) and also to use resources in the reference section of Gorgas library. Be sure to properly re-shelve any book that you use or leave them in the proper place for Gorgas library staff to find and re-shelve them correctly. 

This assignment is all about spending some time in the library hunting and pecking…, for, often, that’s exactly what scholarship is: stumbling across something you didn’t even know you were looking for. If class time is not enough time to complete the assignment then you and your partner need to work on this outside class time.  

The assignment, bearing the name of each partner on a cover sheet, listed in alphabetical order, is to be stapled and typed, double spaced, with one inch margins, and 12 point Times Roman or Times New Roman font. It is due in class on Thurs. August 31. 

5.      Final Exam (25%)

This course has a cumulative, multiple-choice final examination, which also includes all material included in the previous tests. This cumulative exam is worth 25% of your final grade.

Grading Policy

A+          95-100%                             C             70-74

A             90-94                                    D+          65-69

B+          85-89                                    D             60-64

B             80-84                                    D-           50-59

C+           75-79                                    F             below 50

Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework

Excused Absences for Quizzes, Tests and Exams

If you miss a quiz, test or exam, you must contact the professor immediately to explain your absence. There will be 10 unannounced pop quizzes throughout the semester, if you miss a quiz for what the professor considers to be a legitimate reason, the portion of that grade will transfer to the remaining quizzes; make-up tests are not an option in this course; instead, for test absences that the professor deems legitimate, the portion of the grade dedicated to the missed test will be completely transferred to the next test. Missing both tests for what the professor sees as a legitimate reasons means a student’s final exam will count for the full portion of the course’s tests and exams. Students who miss the final exam for a legitimate reason must speak with the professor before the end of the examination period about the possibility of a final alternate assignment.

Attendance Policy

Regular attendance, purchasing the course book, and adequate preparation for each day’s readings are expected and required to do well in this course. See the schedule, below, for each day’s readings.

Notification of Changes

The instructor will make every effort to follow the guidelines of this syllabus as listed; however, the instructor reserves the right to amend this document as the need arises. In such instances, the instructor will notify students in class and/or via email and will endeavor to provide reasonable time for students to adjust to any changes.

Statement on Academic Misconduct

Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Code of Academic Conduct provided in the Online Catalog.

Statement On Disability Accommodations

Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the Online Catalog.

Severe Weather Protocol

Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the Online Catalog.

Pregnant Student Accommodations

Title IX protects against discrimination related to pregnancy or parental status. If you are pregnant and will need accommodations for this class, please review the University’s FAQs on the UAct website.

Religious Observances

Under the Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observances, students should notify the instructor in writing or via email during the first two weeks of the semester of their intention to be absent from class for religious observance. The instructor will work to provide reasonable opportunity to complete academic responsibilities as long as that does not interfere with the academic integrity of the course. See full guidelines at Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines.

UAct Statement

The UAct website provides an overview of The University's expectations regarding respect and civility.