Faculty of Arts

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2015 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

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

FacultyFaculty of Arts
Organisational UnitCentre for Religious Studies
OfferedClayton Second semester 2015 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Tamara Prosic


The unit explores ways in which religious and secular ideas and interests interact and influence each other. It discusses models of secularization (freedom of religion, freedom from religion), its historical contexts, socio-cultural tensions and governments' responses to them. It examines different models implied by the intersection between the religious and the secular and between politics and the state (religious state/religious politics, secular state/secular politics, religious state/secular politics, secular state/religious politics). Finally, the unit also looks at religio-political discourses of in- and ex-clusion underlying domestic and foreign policies of nation-states.


Students successfully completing this unit should have developed:

  1. background knowledge about secular traditions and mainstream theories of secularization and desecularization;
  2. an understanding of the historical reasons behind different models of formal religion and state separation (USA and France);
  3. acquired the necessary analytical tools to gain deeper insight into the principled issues at stake in contemporary tensions between religion and the state, religion and politics;
  4. the ability to compare and analyse different forms of interaction between the religious and the secular/political in the modern world via four empirical case studies a.Israel/Iran b.China c. Sweden/Indonesia d.USA;
  5. an appreciation of the complex national and international influence of religions on the dynamics of contemporary public life;
  6. an understanding of religion's role in the formation of personal and collective identity and alterity;
  7. an understanding of religious undercurrents in systems of political and economic alliances;
  8. the capacity to analyse, contextualise and discuss contemporary religio-political discourse via empirical case studies.

In addition, third-year level students;

  1. will be able to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the issues discussed in the unit and a greater level of sophistication and independence in formulating their essay question.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Twelve credit points of second-year Arts units.