Singapore University of Social Sciences

Religion in Contemporary Societies

Religion in Contemporary Societies (HBC251)


Religion remains a mainstay of contemporary societies, serving to organize social life and interaction among people. Here, we trace the historical origins of various religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, and indigenous religions – and use a comparative approach in our discussion of the philosophical, ritualistic, and institutional aspects of the religions. We also take a closer look at how these religions have evolved in the Asian context.

Level: 2
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: EVERY REGULAR SEMESTER
E-Learning: BLENDED - Learning is done ENTIRELY online using interactive study materials in Canvas. Students receive guidance and support from online instructors via discussion forums and emails. There are no face-to-face sessions. If the course has an exam component, this will be administered on-campus.


  • Overview of the academic study of religion
  • Approaches to the study of religion
  • Survey of religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism
  • Survey of religions (cont'd): Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Shinto, Indigenous religions, New Religious Movements
  • Religion and society
  • Religion and society (cont'd)

Learning Outcome

  • Distinguish between normative understandings and truth claims about religion(s) and the aims of the academic study of religion in the social sciences.
  • Explain different scholarly approaches to religion and some definitions of religion that flow from these.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with a range of forms of religious life (i.e. traditions, institutions etc.) and their historical and cultural contexts.
  • Examine the relationship between religion and other forms of social life (including identity, gender roles, nation states, globalisation).
  • Question the universal applicability of categories and terms employed in the study of religion and critically discuss key topics and issues involving religions today.
  • Apply cultural relativism, methodological and theoretical pluralism, and think cross-culturally and comparatively about religions.
  • Sketch religious diversity in the contemporary world.
Back to top
Back to top