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The Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies

Total Course Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree: 120 units

See Bachelor's Degree Requirements in the University Catalog for complete details on general degree requirements. A minimum of 40 units, including those required for the major, must be upper division.

A suggested Major Academic Plan (MAP) has been prepared to help students meet all graduation requirements within four years. You can view MAPs on the Degree MAPs page in the University Catalog or you can request a plan from your major advisor.

General Education Pathway Requirements: 48 units

See General Education in the University Catalog and the Class Schedule for the most current information on General Education Pathway Requirements and course offerings.

  • RELS 322 is an approved GE Writing Intensive substitution.
  • RELS 482 is an approved GE Capstone substitution.

Diversity Course Requirements: 6 units

See Diversity Requirements in the University Catalog. Most courses taken to satisfy these requirements may also apply to General Education .

Literacy Requirement:

See Mathematics and Writing Requirements in the University Catalog. Writing proficiency in the major is a graduation requirement and may be demonstrated through satisfactory completion of a course in your major which has been designated as the Writing Proficiency (WP) course for the semester in which you take the course. Students who earn below a C- are required to repeat the course and earn a C- or higher to receive WP credit. See the Class Schedule for the designated WP courses for each semester. You must complete the GE Written Communication (A2) requirement before you may register for a WP course.

Course Requirements for the Major: 34 units

Completion of the following courses, or their approved transfer equivalents, is required of all candidates for this degree.

10 courses required:

SUBJ NUM Title Sustainable Units Semester Offered Course Flags
This course provides an introduction to the religions of South Asia from the earliest times until the present, and provides basic sociological, psychological, philosophical, and anthropological perspectives from which to study them. The main religions explored are Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism with some discussion of Islam in the Indian region as well. All of these religions have deeply influenced Indian society and students are exposed to the literature, art, ideas, and practices of these faiths. 3 hours seminar. (021608)
This discussion-centered, project-directed course is a complement to RELS 200 (Religion in South Asia). It introduces elementary concepts of comparative religion and the basics of East Asian history. Afterward, it provides basic knowledge of major traditions and important 3 hours discussion. (021568)
This course introduces students to the formation and early history of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with a a special focus on the scriptural traditions of those three religions. 3 hours seminar. You may take this course more than once for a maximum of 6.0 units. (021561)
Prerequisite: RELS 306.
This course explores the development of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam from the crusades to the modern era. Major topics include the teachings of each tradition on war, peace, and conflict; religious diversity among the three traditions, especially in response to modernity and globalization; and the role of ritual in the three traditions. 3 hours lecture. (021416)
Religion plays a role in the most contentious social issues of our era: religious freedom, abortion, evolution, racism, and gay rights, among others. The course explores the historical roots of American religions and religious trends such as pluralism and fundamentalism. We pay particular attention to media representations of religious "others" and use case studies to explore the intersections of religion and gender, race, class, and ethnicity. The course uses historical documents, religious texts, films and other media, and also introduces students to basic research methods for religious studies. 3 hours discussion. (000405)
What is the place of human beings in the natural world? Do humans have a responsibility to other species? Are human beings primarily of nature or above or apart from nature? Is the proper role of humans to manipulate and control the natural world or to harmonize and conform their lives to the ways of nature? How have different beliefs about the existence or non-existence of divine or supernatural beings influenced human attitudes and behaviors toward the natural environment? What are some of the ways in which religions have shaped attitudes towards nature in specific historical and cultural contexts? What kinds of ritual practices do different cultures engage in concerning the natural world? This course considers a variety of religious and secular perspectives on these questions as well as responses to contemporary environmental issues, such as pollution and climate change. Special attention is given to the perspectives and practices of indigenous cultures. 3 hours seminar. (021621)
This course studies the many ways religion shapes gender and sexuality in different cultures and historical periods. It examines how religion affects the social expectations and experiences of women, men, and other genders as well as how religion helps define and regulate sexual behavior, sexual identities, and sexual possibilities. 3 hours seminar. (021634)
This course considers 1) the relation between religion and power in historical and contemporary settings, and 2) religion as a factor in conflict and peacemaking. Topics include alternative models of the relation between religion and state; religious and secular perspectives on government and political order; the role of religion in both legitimating and critiquing political systems; religious perspectives on war and peace, violence and non-violence; and the relationship between religion and human rights. Special attention is given to the political and ethical diversity within and as well as between religious traditions. 3 hours seminar. (021635)
Prerequisites: RELS 200, RELS 300.
A study of the history, theories, and methods of religious studies as a scholarly and academic discipline, with emphasis on the biographical and historical contexts of significant contributors to the discipline and their classic works. Topics include secular vs. religious approaches to the study of religion and the contrast between religious insiders' and outsiders' perspectives; alternative theories of the origins and functions of religion; and debates over whether religion is a positive or negative influence in the lives of individuals and social groups. 3 hours seminar. (008191)
Prerequisites: Completion of GE Written Communication (A2) requirement, RELS 480.
This capstone equips students to analyze the role of religion in public life, including issues of religious freedom and the relationshop between religion and American social institutions (government, education, health care, the criminal justice system, etc.). Following a study of the U.S. context, the course explores comparative cases in other countries. Focus is on the position(s) of religion in public space; the shifting boundaries of religiou and non-religious activity, and the implications of these arrangements. One unit of creid for this course involves an internship, a research project, or prior learning portfolio assessment/experiential learning essay. 4 hours seminar. You may take this course more than once for a maximum of 6.0 units. This is an approved Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement course; a grade of C- or higher certifies writing proficiency for majors. (008200)

1 course selected from:

SUBJ NUM Title Sustainable Units Semester Offered Course Flags
This course is designed to examine the ways religion helps shape artistic expression and how various art forms-music, architecture, visual arts, storytelling, and film-serve as means of religious expression. We explore both traditional "sacred" art (e.g. temples, mosques, churches) as well as popular art (novels, movies, etc.) that have been shaped by religious themes. We explore the role of the arts in a number of different religious traditions. 3 hours seminar. (021622)
The relationship between science, religion, and technology is explored from a variety of perspectives. We focus not just on the conflict amongst these domains, but also on the integration and mutual support that has been witnessed in their long and complicated history. Topics include evolution, creationism, and intelligent design; scientific attempts to prove the existence of God; the Copernican Revolution; Mysticism and quantum mechanics; technological developments pioneered in religious contexts; current religious uses of technology; Deist influences on the Newtonian mechanistic views of the universe; differences between faith and reason; Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist contributions to science and many more. 3 hours seminar. (021631)

Electives Requirement:

To complete the total units required for the bachelor's degree, select additional elective courses from the total University offerings. You should consult with an advisor regarding the selection of courses which will provide breadth to your University experience and possibly apply to a supportive second major or minor.

Grading Requirement:

All courses taken to fulfill major course requirements must be taken for a letter grade except those courses specified by the department as Credit/No Credit grading only.

Advising Requirement:

Advising is mandatory for all majors in this degree program. Consult your undergraduate advisor for specific information.

Honors in the Major:

Honors in the Major is a program of independent work in your major. It requires 6 units of honors course work completed over two semesters.

The Honors in the Major program allows you to work closely with a faculty mentor in your area of interest on an original performance or research project. This year-long collaboration allows you to work in your field at a professional level and culminates in a public presentation of your work. Students sometimes take their projects beyond the University for submission in professional journals, presentation at conferences, or academic competition. Such experience is valuable for graduate school and professional life. Your honors work will be recognized at your graduation, on your permanent transcripts, and on your diploma. It is often accompanied by letters of commendation from your mentor in the department or the department chair.

Some common features of Honors in the Major program are:

  1. You must take 6 units of Honors in the Major course work. All 6 units are honors classes (marked by a suffix of H), and at least 3 of these units are independent study (399H, 499H, 599H) as specified by your department. You must complete each class with a minimum grade of B.
  2. You must have completed 9 units of upper-division course work or 21 overall units in your major before you can be admitted to Honors in the Major. Check the requirements for your major carefully, as there may be specific courses that must be included in these units.
  3. Your cumulative GPA should be at least 3.5 or within the top 5% of majors in your department.
  4. Your GPA in your major should be at least 3.5 or within the top 5% of majors in your department.
  5. Most students apply for or are invited to participate in Honors in the Major during the second semester of their junior year. Then they complete the 6 units of course work over the two semesters of their senior year.
  6. Your honors work culminates with a public presentation of your honors project.

While Honors in the Major is part of the Honors Program, each department administers its own program. Please contact your major department or major advisor to apply.

Catalog Cycle:17