Faculty of Arts

Skip to content | Change text size

print version

Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Postgraduate - Unit

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2011
Coordinator(s)Dr Thomas Reuter


Previously coded RLM5100


This unit offers an exploration of contemporary belief systems and ritual practices in Australian society, from the perspective of social theory and within a historical context of major global changes in the way religion and ceremony operate in society. The underlying reasons behind these new developments in religion and ceremonial practice will be explored by analyzing a variety of different agendas and organizational forms, ranging from fundamentalist movements to New Age groups, Pentecostal Christianity, eco-spirituality and neo-religious youth subcultures. International trends and influences will be considered together with the unique history and phenomenology of religion in Australia.


Upon successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Define at least two basic, classical social theory approaches to the study of religion and critique them with the help of contemporary theory in sociology, anthropology and post-colonial studies;
  2. Describe and analyze the various ways in which religions have developed historically, especially with the advent of modernity, both internationally and within Australian society;
  3. Analyze a historical or contemporary manifestation of the action of religion in society by applying social theories of religion;
  4. Provide a critical account of the role of fundamentalism, revivalism and charismatic movements at both an international and a local level;
  5. Analyze the impact of new trends in religion and ceremonial practice on the re-imagining of multiculturalism and on inter-faith relations in Australia;In addition, students at the higher level of study (APG5343) are expected to be able to:
  6. Review, critique and expand on existing social theories of religion, through careful (re-)analysis of empirical data on contemporary religious belief systems and practices;
  7. Use their own experiences of contemporary religion in Australia together with the knowledge of social theories of religion they have acquired in this unit to produce new insights and, thus, to begin to make a contribution to this field of research.


Class presentation and written synopsis (2000 words): 25%; Research essay (7000 words): 75%. To create a qualitative distinction between students at Levels 4 and 5, essay topics for L5 students will be set at a greater level of difficulty. Students will be expected to apply theory to the analysis of case material in a more sophisticated, critical and innovative manner, and will be encouraged to draw on their own knowledge of relevant cases.

Contact hours

2 hours (1 x 2 hour seminar) per week


ATS4343, APG4343