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Graduate Courses

Language instruction in Arabic, Biblical and Modern Hebrew, and Turkish is offered through the Middle East Institute. Language instruction in other languages is offered through the Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

Course Descriptions          Courses Listed by Area

Course Descriptions

RELS 6040 - AUGUSTINE AND AQUINAS
(Same as Phil 6040.) Selected works of the major religious philosophers of the Middle Ages with emphasis on their views on topics such as God, sin, human nature, free will, faith, and politics.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6060 - EVIL AND GOD 
What is evil? Does the existence of evil in the world challenge belief in God? When we encounter famine, disease, hurricanes, torture, war, or poverty, who (or what) do we hold responsible? How can bad things happen to good people? The course will examine how these questions are approached in religious thought, and also in philosophy, literature, and film.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6080 - RELS DIMENSIONS IN HUMAN EXPER 
Examines religions as integral aspects of human cultures. Integrates theoretical and methodological approaches to religious studies that center on human experiences, expressions, practices and beliefs with examples from particular historical and geographical locations. Topics and source materials may include material culture, archaeology, visual culture, literature, aesthetics, film and ethnography
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6100 - RELS STUDY ABROAD
No prerequisite. Provides students with opportunities to study religious life and practice outside of the United States. Includes travel to selected sites for visitation and study led by faculty familiar with the site's history and religious significance. Also includes direct supervision of students' on-the-ground experience of religious life around the globe. Open to majors and non-majors. No foreign language necessary; instruction will be in English. Enrollment must be approved by program director.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6140 - RELIGION AND LAW
Explores the intersection of religion and American law, focusing on First Amendment jurisprudence. Topics include religion and public schools, government funding for religious institutions, public religious monuments, and the free exercise of religion. Also may consider the historical origins of religious freedom, the role of law in religion, religion's position in American public life, and alternative legal frameworks.. 3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6200 - RELIGION IN AMERICA
Introduction to the religious experiences of Americans from colonial times to the present. Topics may include Native American religion, Puritanism. Mormonism, spiritualism, Reform Judaism, Catholic modernism, Islam, fundamentalism, and African-American religion.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6225 - PSYCHOLOGY AND RELIGION 
This course will survey the fields of psychology and religious studies. Addressing this tension, our course is designed to create a constructive, respectful dialogue between both perspective. Can we conceive ways in which religious behavior and the study of religion may inform, or even construct, psychological theory? Conversely, how do psychological perspectives and cognitive science tell a richer, deeper story of what is happening in religious experiences? We will consider postmodern and qualitative critiques to such investigations, as well as the emerging field in “explaining” religion through cognitive science and evolutionary theory. This course will also consider Eastern forms of religious expression and spirituality.
3.0 Credit Hours 

RELS 6240 - DEATH AND THE AFTERLIFE
Introduction to the general beliefs and practices associated with death and the afterlife in several world religious traditions. Topics may include religious perspectives on the process of dying, treatment of the body, methods of grieving, views of suicide and martyrdom, and contemporary issues surrounding death and the afterlife.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6245 - COGNITIVE FOUNDATIONS RELIGION
This course will explore the neural foundations and cognitive mechanisms of religious behavior and experiences. This course will also look at the evolutionary development of religion, the more recent findings in cognitive processing of particular religious beliefs, and the neural imaging of religious experiences.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6250 - AFRICAN-AMERICAN RELIGION
(Same as AAS 6090.) Survey of the development of African-American religion from colonial times to the present, including an examination of both theological arguments and spiritual experiences.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6255 - RELIGION, RACE, NATION
From colonialism to black nationalism to globalization, how do the three issues of religion, race, and nation affect each other? How has religious thought dealt with issues of race, and how has the concept of race been shaped by religious thought? How do racial and religious communities differ? We will approach these questions using theory, world literature, and film.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6260 - RELIGION AND LITERATURE
(Same as ENGL 6260) Examines how religious institutions, beliefs, and values have been presented in and challenged within novels. Readings include works by authors from various religious communities as well as theoretical work done by scholars working in the field of religion and literature.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6270 - WOMEN AND RELIGION
Multicultural exploration of the role of women and female divinities in diverse religious traditions; readings from ancient myths to contemporary feminist theology.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6280 - MODERN ISLAM
The purpose of the course is to understand the Islamic tradition in the contemporary world through a study of its history, society, institutions, as well as its various relationships to non-Muslim societies and cultures. The task is to try to gain familiarity with the multiple manifestations and transformations of Islam from the pre-modern to the modern periods, with an emphasis on the changes brought about by the rise of European hegemony and colonial modernity
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6290 - PILGRIMAGE
Exploration of the central role played by pilgrimage in world religious traditions, including study of its vital social and religious functions. Examples from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, as well as theoretical readings on the phenomenon of pilgrimage.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6295 - RELIGION, SPORT & SPIRITUALITY
Religion, Sport and Spirituality. A comparative study of the ancient and modern Olympics with an emphasis on the religious character of these games. Questions explored may include: why were the games shut down by the newly Christianized Roman Empire for religious reasons, and why were they revived in the nineteenth century?
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6300 - METAPHYSICS
Prerequisite: one upper-level course in philosophy or religious studies.
(Same as Phil 6300.) Topics may include personal identity and human nature; space, time, matter, and causality; freedom and determinism; teleology; conceptions of divinity; and world views and paradigm shifts.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6400 - INTERNSHIP IN RELS
Supervised worked coupled with academic instruction. Students may propose internships they have been able to arrange (although these must be approved by the department faculty member supervising the internship and the undergraduate or graduate director, as appropriate). Students may also choose from several internship opportunities established by the department, including internships in the media, non-profit administration, business, and government.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6430 - AMERICAN JEWISH HIST
This course surveys the Jewish experience in the United States, examining the religious, cultural, political, and economic activities of American Jews from the colonial period to the present. Students will explore the ways Jewish tradition has been adapted in America, what the relationship of American Jews has been to other Americans, and how American Jewish identities have been created from modern Jews' dual impulses for integration and distinctiveness. The course will include a significant examination of issues with regional identity, with particular focus on Southern Jewish experience. We will explore Jewish relationships with black and white gentile southerners, as well as southern Jews' embrace of southern culture and southern identity. This course will also familiarize students with the excellent resources on Atlanta Jewish history available at local archives.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6450 - MODERN JUDAISM
Key issues and historical events shaping Judaism in the modern world, including Zionism, the development of Jewish denominations, the Holocaust, Middle East conflict, women's roles in Jewish life, and the development of Judaism in the United States. No previous knowledge of Judaism is required; all readings are in English.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6460 - JUDAISM IN THE SOUTH
  Examination of the historical and cultural development of Judaism in the American south. Topics may include Jewish immigrants, issues of assimilation, Jews and the Civil War, Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, the Leo Frank case, the Temple bombing in Atlanta, and contemporary issues in Southern Jewish life.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6470 - MARTIN BUBER: THOUGHT & INFLUENCE
His Thought and Influence. An exploration of Buber's writings on subjects such as Hasidic folklore, Asian thought, dialogical philosophy, and Middle Eastern politics, with consideration of how his work has been received both inside and outside of Jewish circles.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6280 - MODERN ISLAM: TRADITION & TRANSFORMATION
The purpose of this course is to understand the Islamic tradition in the contemporary world through a study of its history, society, institutions, as well as its various relationships to non-Muslim societies and cultures. The task is to try to gain familiarity with the multiple manifestations and transformations of Islam from the pre-modern to the modern periods, with an emphasis on the changes brought about by the rise of European hegemony and colonial modernity. As a survey, the course will review broad socio-historical patterns in order to give students the ability to better assess a range of contemporary issues related to Islam as well as provide a basis through which further investigations can be made.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6483 - ISSUES ISLAMIC FAITH/PRACTICE
Contemporary Issues in Islamic Faith and Practice. What challenges has the modern period posed to Islamic faith and practice? This course treats a number of issues--such as gender and family, the formation of the modern nation state, and minority Muslim populations--as a way to explore changing constructions of authority and evolving beliefs and practices within contemporary Muslim populations.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6485 - ETHICS & MORALITY IN ISLAM
Ethics and Morality in the Islamic Tradition. How have morality and ethics been articulated in the Islamic tradition? What determines moral weight of any given action, whether something is "right" or "wrong" for Muslims? Many have argued that Islamic Law (Shariah) is the locus where ethics and morality are discussed in the Islamic tradition, but are there other modes of discourse that deal with these subjects (such as hadith studies and Sufism)? This course will explore the above questions as an introduction to the study of ethics and morality in Islam.   
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6490 - TOPICS IN JUDAISM
Examination of selected topics in Judaism. May be repeated if topic varies.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6570 - TOPICS IN ISLAM
Investigation of a specific theme, figure(s), or text(s) within Islam, such as Islamic ethics, historical portrayals of Muhammad, or the Nation of Islam. May be repeated if topic varies.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6580 - LIFE OF MUHAMMAD
Study and contrast of various perspectives of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, including medieval Muslim hagiographies, medieval European polemics, and modern reinterpretations by both Muslims and non-Muslims.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6610 - HINDUISM
Introduction to Hindu religion and philosophy, with some consideration of Indian Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam, and contemporary thought.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6612 - HINDU SACRED MYTHS AND EPICS
Introduction to the classic religious text in the Hindu tradition. Readings include selections from the Rig Veda, the Upanishads, the Satapatha Brahmana, the Yogasutras, the Mahabharata (including the Bhagavad Gita), devotional poetry, and writings from several modern Hindu religious leaders. All reading in English translation; no prior knowledge of Hinduism necessary.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6615 - BUDDHISM
 Historical introduction to the Buddhist tradition, tracing its developments in India, Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, Japan, and the West.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6620 - CONFUCIANISM AND TAOISM
Historical introduction to Chinese religion and philosophy, tracing their developments in Confucianism and Taoism. Some consideration is given to Chinese Buddhism and popular religion.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6622 - CLASSICAL CHINESE PHILOSOPHY
Focused exploration of the surviving works from the 'Hundred Schools Period' of ancient China, (roughly 550-200 BCE). Readings include the Analects of Confucius, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, and several works by lesser known thinkers from various philosophical schools.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6625 - ZEN AND SHINTO
Historical introduction to Japanese religion and philosophy, tracing their developments in Shinto, folk religion, and various Buddhist schools. Special consideration is given to Zen Buddhism.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6628 - TOPICS IN ASIAN RELIGION
Investigation of a selected topic within Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, and/or Japanese religion. Possible topics include classical Taoist philosophy, new religions in Japan, Tibetan Buddhist texts, and human rights in Asian religion. May be repeated if topic varies.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6630 - COMPARATIVE STUDY OF MYSTICISM
Theoretical and methodological investigation of mystical experiences and traditions.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6640 - RELIGION AND SEXUALITY
The Problem of the Erotic. Beginning with a reconstruction of ancient Greek and Roman sexual attitudes, the course examines how these attitudes and practices were inherited by, changed by, later Jewish and Christian communities. After a study of the new medieval language of heresy and expulsion in Europe, the course turns to modern rehabilitations of Classical ideas in thinkers such as Freud and Foucault.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6650 - RELIGION AND ETHICS
Study of the relation between religion and morality, including both Eastern and Western religious perspectives. Topics may include such issues as warfare, social justice, sexual ethics, and issues in modern medicine.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6670 - CHURCH AND STATE
Philosophical and theological perspectives on the relationship between church and state. Issues such as conscientious objection, school prayer, the "free exercise" of religion, and Islamic attitudes toward the state.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6675 - CHRISTIANITY AND DEMOCRACY
Examination of the complex relationship between Christianity and democracy in theory and in practice. Exploration of such questions as: Is there a necessary link between Christianity and democracy? Do democratic values conflict with Christian commitments? Must religious commitments be set aside when citizens participate in democratic deliberation?.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6680 - WAR, PEACE, AND RELIGION
 Comparative study of attitudes towars war and peace in major religious traditions. Topics may include the Christian just-war tradition; Islamic notions of jihad; Buddhist renunciation and pacificism; the writings of Gandhi; nuclear arms and the status of noncombatants; civil disobedience and conscientious objection; and religiously-motivated terrorism.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6690 - SECULARISM, LIBERALISM & RELIGION
(Same as PHIL 6690).  Exploration of the role of religion and religious values in the modern, secular state with an emphasis on the past thirty years. Topics may include the defense of the principles of modern Liberalism from within religious traditions and critiques made by communitarians, Marxists, and NeoTraditionalists.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6700 - ISSUES IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES
Examination of selected religious thinker(s) or topic(s). May be repeated more than once if topic varies, but only six hours of credit may be applied toward the degree.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 6890 - RELIGION ON-SITE IN ATLANTA
Introduces students to various local sites that express religious communities' traditions and practices in Atlanta. Provides instruction to students at local sites integrated with lectures and readings that explore the history and diversity of Atlanta's religious communities. Students will learn from on-site lectures presented by lead and guest instructors; from relevant historical documents; and from contemporary literature (secondary scholarship, relevant websites and blogs, community-published material). Students will be trained to integrate information from these sources and analyze them from an academic, critical perspective..
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 8200 - PRO-SEMINAR IN ADV THEORY & METHOD
Intensive seminar on theoretical and methodological issues in the academic study of religion. Specific attention to questions of what "religion" is, how it can be most appropriately conceptualized and studied, and how various research and interpretive methods can be applied. 3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 8210 - SEMINAR IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES
Seminar in Religious Studies. Religious thinker or topic, such as Matthew Fox, Sri Aurobindo, gnosticism, or religious pluralism. May be repeated once if topic varies.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 8950 - DIRECTED READINGS
Prerequisite: consent of instructor Designed to provide students with the opportunity to do more advanced work in an area of their choice. Not to be used as a substitute for topics normally covered in other graduate courses. May be repeated for credit.
NOTE: To register for this course you need to download, print, and complete this form.
1.0 to 3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 8960 - RESEARCH IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES
Does not count toward degree requirements. Authorization required. May be repeated for credit.
3.0 to 9.0 Credit Hours

RELS 8970 - TEACHING RELIGIOUS STUDIES
Does not count toward degree requirements. Preparation course for teaching, covering syllabus design, making up tests, grading papers, and other classroom techniques. Prerequisite for being a graduate teaching assistant. May not be repeated for credit.
3.0 to 6.0 Credit Hours

RELS 8980 - TEACHING PRACTICUM
Does not count toward degree requirements. Apprenticeship in teaching for graduate teaching assistants under faculty supervision. Required for all graduate teaching assistants in their first semester of teaching. May not be repeated for credit.
3.0 Credit Hours

RELS 8985 - ADVANCED TEACHING PRACTICUM IN REL STUDIES
Does not count toward degree requirements. Apprenticeship in teaching for advanced graduate teaching assistants under faculty supervision. Required for all graduate teaching assistant in their seond and subsequent semesters of teaching. GTAs learn how to document and collect materials for Teaching Portfolio. May be repeated for credit.
3.0 to 12.0 Credit Hours

RELS 8998 - PROSPECTUS RESEARCH & WRITING
Students enrolled in this course will complete the research required to writing a Masters thesis prospectus that conforms to the guidelines established by the Department. Students who successfully complete this course and whose prospectuses are approved by the faculty may continue in the thesis research and writing process. Permission from the instructor.
1.0 to 6.0 Credit Hours

RELS 8999 - THESIS RESEARCH
Masters thesis research.
NOTE: To register for this course you need to download, print, and complete this form.
1.0 to 6.0 Credit Hours

Courses Listed by Area

American Religions:
RELS 6200 Religion in America
RELS 6140 Religion and American Law
RELS 6250 African-American Religion
RELS 6430 American Jewish History
RELS 6460 Judaism in the South

Gender, Sexuality and Religion:
RELS 6270 Women and Religion
RELS 6640 Religion and Sexuality: The Problem of the Erotic

Religion, Ethics and Politics:
RELS 6650 Religion and Ethics
RELS 6060 Evil and God
RELS 6255 Religion, Race, Nation
RELS 6485 Ethics and Morality in the Islamic Tradition
RELS 6680 War, Peace, and Religion
RELS 6675 Christianity and Democracy

Comparative Religions:
RELS 6080 Religious Dimensions in Human Experience
RELS 6240 Death and the Afterlife
RELS 6260 Religion and Literature
RELS 6630 Comparative Study of Mysticism