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Course content

The MA Religion in Global Politics is designed to appeal to policy-makers, analysts, journalists and researchers in either international, national or regional institutions and organisations engaged in policy formation, inter-religious dialogue and community development, social work, development, conflict resolution, peace building or diversity management. It will also provide a solid basis from which to pursue doctoral study. The programme is intended to enable professional development in the area of 'Religion and Politics' as well to provide pre-doctoral research training in social scientific analyses of 'Religion and Politics'.

Programme Description

Religion has become a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary global geopolitical landscape and as such demands a reassessment of once predominant understandings of processes of secularisation, as well as the meanings of, and tensions inherent within, secular assumptions and secularist positions. The so-called 'resurgence' of religion in the public sphere in recent decades is now a significant area of interdisciplinary scholarship eliciting a complex array of responses, ranging from vehement opposition to the very idea that religious concepts and commitments have a right to expression in political debates, to a reassessment of the origins and implications of divisions between the secular and the religious and their relationship to the nation state. The notion that there is no singular secularism, but rather a plurality of secularisms, and of ‘religion’ as an invention of European modernity and colonial interests are two of many emerging efforts to reconceptualise the meanings of religion and the secular and the entangled relationship between them.

The MA Religion in Global Politics offers an opportunity to examine these questions and issues at an advanced level by studying the complex relationships between religion and politics in the histories and contemporary political contexts (both national and international) of the regions of the Asia, Africa and the Middle East. A core objective is to challenge the Eurocentrism of current debates around secularism, secularisation, the nature of the public sphere within modernity, by indicating the plurality and contested nature of conceptions of both religion and the secular when considered in a global framework.

The programme is unique: it has a regional focus and disciplinary breadth rarely addressed in similar programmes in the subject area, draws on a wealth of multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives (Law, International Relations and Politics, History, Philosophy, Development, Anthropology, Migration and Diaspora Studies, and Gender Studies, amongst others) and has a rigorous theoretical basis built in, such that students will be familiarised with the current state-of-the-art debates regarding religion in the public sphere, secularisms, postsecularism, and political theology and their relevance to issues of democracy, war, violence, human rights, humanitarianism and development, multiculturalism, nationalism, sectarianism, religious extremism, and free speech amongst others. The range of course options available on the programme is unparalleled, ensuring that students will benefit from a truly interdisciplinary, intellectually rigorous, and regionally focused programme.

Programme Aims

The programme's inter-disciplinary focus aims to provide students with advanced training in the area of religion and politics through the study of a wide range of theoretical and regional perspectives. It will serve primarily as a platform for professional development and further (MPhil/PhD) graduate research. The programme offers students:

  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of significant approaches, methods, debates, and theories in the field of religion and politics, with particular reference to the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East;
  • Advanced skills in researching and writing about topics in and theorisations of religion and politics;
  • Advanced skills in the presentation or communication of knowledge and understanding of topics in religion and politics as they pertain to regional, international, and transnational contexts.

Structure

Students are required to take taught modules to the equivalent of 120 credits, and to submit a dissertation of 10,000 words (60 credits) as outlined below.

Students may be allowed to study for the MA on a part-time basis:

The part-time MA may be taken over two years, in which case the student takes two 30 credits (or equivalent 15 credits) in the first year, and two 30 credits (or equivalent 15 credits) and the dissertation in the second year.

Alternatively, it can be taken over three years, in which case the student can distribute the 120 credits evenly in each of the three years. The dissertation can be written in year two or three, but it is strongly recommended that this be undertaken in the final year of the degree. It must be submitted in September of the year in which the student registers for it.

Teaching & Learning

Students are required to follow taught modules to the equivalent of 120 credits and in addition to submit a dissertation of 10,000 words, worth 60 credits. Modules are assessed through a variety of methods including short and long essays, examinations, oral presentations, and response papers. An overall percentage mark is awarded for each module, based on the marks awarded for individual assessment items within the courses. The MA may be awarded at Distinction, Merit or Pass level in accordance with the common regulations for MA/MSc at SOAS.

The MA Religion in Global Politics is designed both as a professional development qualification and as a platform preparing students for doctoral research.


Visit the Religion in Global Politics - MA page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!

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