The curriculum in religious studies offers a wide variety of courses that focus on the study of religion as an academic discipline. Most courses are open to any student with no prerequisites. RELS 144: Death and the Afterlife, RELS 145: Sensing Religion, RELS 215: Judaism and Christianity in the Ancient World, and RELS 280: Asian Religious Traditions, are specially designed to be introductory courses. Entering students may wish to take a Religious Studies course as their First-Year Seminar (178) course.
Because religion encompasses such a wide variety of phenomena that can be approached from so many methodological perspectives such as history, philosophy, literature, or the social sciences, there are only three required courses within the thirty-six hours of course work expected of majors. All majors and minors should take RELS 144, 145 or 146 as one of their first RELS courses. Majors are also required to take two capstone courses: RELS 398: Theory and Method in the Study of Religion, which fulfills the knowledge of the major student learning outcomes and prepares them for RELS 492: Senior Seminar in Religious Studies. Both capstone courses are open to any students meeting the prerequisites and/or by permission of the instructor.
Students majoring or minoring in Religious Studies may take a variety of departmental offerings or even take courses outside of the department designated as “approved electives” for Religious Studies credit. The only requirement is that three additional hours of course work must come from each of the three distribution areas: Category I, II, and III. See the menu item below for more specific information, including a list of the departmental courses and approved electives that fulfill these distribution requirements.
Schools and universities must take religion seriously if students are to be liberally educated. If students are to think critically about the world and about the other subjects they study…they must study religions in some depth, [and] acquire an understanding of them from the inside…in critical and comparative perspective. -Warren A. Nord, Does God Make a Difference? Taking Religion Seriously in Our Schools and Universities
Major Course Requirements
Review UNC Asheville’s course catalog for official major requirements and course descriptions.
Major in Religious Studies
I. Required courses in the major —at least 36 hours, including: One introductory course (RELS 144, 145, or 146), capstone courses RELS 398 and 492; one course from each of the three distribution categories listed below (no single course may count for more than one category), and 12 hours of electives chosen from other RELS courses or from the list of approved courses. No more than 8 hours of approved courses may come from a single department outside of Religious Studies, and at least 20 of the required 36 hours must be at the 300-400 level. A maximum of 8 hours from 100-level courses may be counted toward the major. The department chair may approve additional courses when the subject matter is appropriate to Religious Studies.
- RELS 144 Religion, Death, and Afterlife (4)
- RELS 145 Sensing Religion: Body, Desire, and Emotion (4)
- RELS 146 Religion and Horror (4)
II. Required courses outside the major – None.
III. Other departmental requirements – Completion of RELS 398 with a C or better demonstrates major competencies.
- CLAS 354 Greek and Roman Religion (4) same as RELS 354
- CLAS 365 Hebrew Bible (4) same as LIT 369
- HIST 388 Islam in Historical Perspective (4)
- LIT 369 World Literature: Hebrew Bible (4) same as CLAS 365
- PHIL 255 Medieval Philosophy (4)
- PHIL 315 Islamic Philosophy (4)
- RELS 215 Judaism and Christianity in the Ancient World (4)
- RELS 312 Religion in America to 1865 (4)
- RELS 387 Religion and Culture of Judaism (4)
- RELS 389 Jewish Women and Religion (4)
- AFST 317 Africana Philosophy (4) same as PHIL 317
- ASIA 313 Asian Philosophy (4) same as PHIL 313
- PHIL 313 Asian Philosophy (4) same as ASIA 313
- PHIL 317 Africana Philosophy (4) same as AFST 317
- RELS 280 Asian Religious Traditions (4)
- RELS 326 Religion and Dance in South Asia (4)
- RELS 342 African Religions in the Americas and the Caribbean (4)
- RELS 381 Religions of South Asia (4)
- RELS 386 Buddhism (4)
- ANTH 380 Zen Anthropology (4)
- ARTH 314 Art and Archaeology of Early Christianity (4)
- ARTH 320 Medieval Art (4)
- ARTH 335 Renaissance and Baroque Art (4)
- ARTH 385 African Art (4)
- ARTH 387 Islamic Art and Architecture (4)
- CLAS 250 or RELS 250 Mythology (4)
- PHIL 217 Buddhist Philosophy (4)
- PHIL 303/ RELS 303 Philosophy of Religion (4)
- RELS 330 Religion and Gender (4)
- SOC 302/ RELS 302 Sociology of Religion (4)
- ASIA 100 Elementary Chinese I (4)
- CHER 110 Cherokee I (4)
- LAT 101 Latin I (4)
- GRK 103 Greek I (4)
- CLAS 105 Hebrew I (3)
Minor Course Requirements
Review UNC Asheville’s course catalog for official minor requirements and course descriptions.
Minor in Religious Studies
At least 20 hours distributed as follows: One introductory course (RELS 144, 145, or 146), one course from each of the three distribution categories listed above (no single course may count for more than one category), and 8 hours of electives chosen from other RELS courses or from the list of approved courses. No more than 4 hours of approved courses may come from a single department outside of Religious Studies, and at least 12 hours must be at the 300-400 level. The department chair may approve additional courses when the subject matter is appropriate to Religious Studies.
Student Learning Outcomes
Religious Literacy & Knowledge of the Major
- Students will develop a foundational competence in religious literacy
- Students will differentiate between the academic study of religion and the theological or confessional study of religion
- Students will demonstrate their abilities to analyze and apply key concepts and methods utilized in the academic study of religion
- Students will demonstrate ability to identify and articulate the thesis and/or method of materials
- Students will be able to analyze , synthesize and interrogate the use of evidence and/or criteria/parameters for method within materials
- Students will develop their abilities to analyze the perspective/interpretation/method of materials and are able to articulate their own position in response
- Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate ideas and arguments effectively in the various writing styles and genres appropriate to the interdisciplinary study of religion
Declaration of Major or Minor
Students can declare their major or minor online.