Skip to Content | Text-only

Undergraduate 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 2001. Introduction to World Religions. (3)

Introduction to the academic study of the world’s major religious traditions, including their beliefs, practices, sacred texts, and moral codes. Religions to be examined may include Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Native American traditions, and African traditions.

RELS 3050. Introduction to Religion. (3)

Introduction to the study of religion with reference to its historical, philosophical, and ethical significance. The meaning of religious institutions, texts, and worldviews will be explored through the study of selected traditions.

RELS 3230. Philosophy of Religion. (3)

Same as Phil 3230.
Issues such as the nature of religion, arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, faith and reason, religious experience, immortality, myth and symbol, and alternative religious philosophies.

RELS 3250. Biblical Studies. (3)

Introduction to the interpretation, history, and theology of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. Modern methods of biblical scholarship, such as hermeneutics and form/source criticism.

RELS 3260. Asian Religions in America. (3)

Introduction to the history and development of Asian religious traditions in the United States, focusing on Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism.  Consideration given to immigrant practitioners and American-born converts.  Also will consider how Asian religions have shaped American culture.

RELS 3270. Survey of World Religions. (3)

Survey and comparison of the beliefs and practices of the major world religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

RELS 3290. Jesus Inside and Outside the Gospels. (3)

Comparative study of portrayals of Jesus as they have evolved over the past two millennia. Topics may include the differences between the Synoptic and Johannine materials, Jesus in the non-canonical gospels, the way Jesus is depicted in texts from other religions (e.g., Quran, Gandhi’s “What Jesus Means to Me”), and visual depictions of Jesus in modern media such as film, television and the internet.

RELS 3300. Early Christianity. (3)

Topics may include God, faith, the role of the Church, and the nature of human beings in the thought of figures such as Paul, Augustine and Luther; alternatives to Orthodoxy such as Gnosticism and Pelagianism; the impact of science and historical criticism in thinkers such as Hume, Schleiermacher, and Feuerbach.

RELS 3305. Modern Christian Thought. (3)

Examination of the development of Christian thought from the 16th century to contemporary times. Topics may include the thought of figures such as Luther, Kierkegaard, and Schleiermacher; the rise of rationalism and science, and anti-Christian thinkers.

RELS 3310. Contemporary Religious Thought. (3)

Topics such as religious existentialism, hermeneutics, liberation theology, fundamentalism, and feminist theology.

RELS 3350. New Religious Movements. (3)

Examination of new and emerging religious movements. Topics may include recent apocalyptic and messianic movements, Mormonism, Baha'i, Soka Gakkai, Christian Science, the Unification Church, and Santeria.

RELS 3400. Introduction to Judaism. (3)

Same as MES 3400.
Central practices and beliefs of the Jewish tradition; historical development of Judaism from its origins to the reestablishment of the state of Israelwith thematic attention given to the concept of Jewish identity. Texts include primary sources (e.g., Hebrew Bible, Mishnah) as well as noted Jewish fiction.

RELS 3500. Introduction to Islam. (3)

Same as MES 3500.
Central practices and beliefs of Islam; readings from the Qur'an, hadith, and other primary sources (in translation); and contemporary issues in Islam which might include the status of women, Nation of Islam, and Islamic fundamentalism/revivalism.

RELS 3750. Theories & Methods in RELS - CTW. (3)

Theories and Methods in Religious Studies - CTW. A writing-intensive introduction to methodological and theoretical issues in the academic study of religion. Psychological, anthropological, sociological, phenomenological, theological, dialogical, and feminist approaches may be covered. Serves as one of the two Critical Thinking Through Writing (CTW) courses required of all religious studies majors. 

RELS 3900. Religion and Popular Culture. (3)

Exploration of "popular religion" in American culture, utilizing both scholarly and mainstream materials. Topics may include holiday celebrations, tensions between sciences (or science-fiction) and religion, western appropriations of eastern traditions, and religion in the mass media.

RELS 3950. Religion, Morality and Film. (3)

Examination of the new religious possibilities, new religious visions, and moral consequences created by the emergence of modern film. Topics may include a survey of film in different cultures, the history of film codes and regulations in the United States, and debates about the proper use of images in religion.

RELS 3970. Tragedy and Comedy. (3)

Examines the categories "tragedy" and "comedy" and how the investigations of these categories developed from Aeschylus to Aristophanes. Includes examination of the compatibility of the Classical Greek vision, which was nominally "pagan," with later Mediterranean religious sensibilities that were consciously monotheistic and scriptural in their orientation. Also looks at the Shakespearean canon and the relevance of tragedy in the modern age.

RELS 4040. Augustine and Aquinas. (3)

Same as Phil 4040
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.

RELS 4060.  Evil and God.  (3)

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.

RELS 4080.  Religious Dimensions in Human Experience. (3)

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.

RELS 4100. RELS Study Abroad. (3)

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.  

RELS 4140. Religion and Law. (3)

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.

RELS 4200. Religion in America. (3)

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.

RELS 4225.  Psychology and Religion.(3)

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. 

RELS 4240. Death and the Afterlife. (3)

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.

RELS 4245. Cognitive Foundations Religion. (3)

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.

RELS 4250. African-American Religion. (3)

Same as AAS 4250.
Survey of the development of African-American religion from colonial times to the present, including an examination of both theological arguments and spiritual experiences.

RELS 4255.  Religion, Race, Nation. (3) 

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.

RELS 4260. Religion and Literature. (3)

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.

RELS 4270. Women and Religion. (3)

Multicultural exploration of the role of women and female divinities in diverse religious traditions; readings from ancient myths to contemporary feminist theology.

RELS 4290. Pilgrimage. (3)

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.

RELS 4295. Religion, Sport and Spirituality. (3)

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? And why were they revived in the nineteenth century?

RELS 4300. Metaphysics. (3)

Prerequisite: one upper-level course in philosophy or religious studies. 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.

RELS 4400. Internship in RELS. (3)

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.

RELS 4450. Modern Judaism. (3)

Same as MES 4420.
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.

RELS 4460. Judaism in the South. (3)

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.

RELS 4470. Martin Buber:  Thought & Influ. (3)

Martin Buber: 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.

RELS 4483.  Issues Islamic Faith/Practice. (3) 

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.

RELS 4485.  Ethics & Morality in Islam. (3) 

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 of Islam.

RELS 4490. Topics in Judaism. (3)

Same as MES 4460.
Examination of selected topic in Judaism. May be repeated if topic varies.

RELS 4570. Topics in Islam. (3)

Same as MES 4440.
May be repeated if topic varies. 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.

RELS 4580. Life of Muhammad. (3)

Same as MES 4450.
Study and contrast of various perspectives of the life of the Prophet Muhammad including medieval Muslim hagiographies, medieval European polemics, and modern reinterpretations of both Muslims and non-Muslims.

RELS 4610. Hinduism. (3)

Same as Phil 4610. 
Introduction to the Hindu gods and goddesses, Hindu temple and domestic worship, and key themes in modern Hinduism. Will include an overview of the development of Hindu thought and practice from ancient times to the present.

RELS 4612. Hindu Sacred Myths and Epics. (3)

Introduction to the classic religious texts 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.

RELS 4615. Buddhism. (3)

Same as Phil 4615.
Historical introduction to the Buddhist tradition, tracing its developments in India, Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, Japan, and the West.

RELS 4620. Confucianism and Taoism. (3)

Same as Phil 4620.
Historical introduction to Chinese religion and philosophy, tracing developments in Confucianism and Taoism. Some consideration given to Chinese Buddhism and popular religion.

RELS 4622.  Classical Chinese Philosophy. (3)

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.

RELS 4625. Zen and Shinto. (3)

Same as Phil 4625.
Historical introduction to Japanese religion and philosophy, tracing developments in Shinto, folk religion, and various Buddhist schools. Special consideration given to Zen Buddhism.

RELS 4628. Topics in Asian Religion. (3)

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 topics varies.

RELS 4630. Comparative Study of Mysticism. (3)

In-depth study of mystical texts and traditions, with special attention given to theoretical and methodological inquiry. Readings drawn from a range of traditions and historical periods, as well as from works in contemporary critical theory in the study of religion. 

RELS 4640. Religion and Sexuality: The Problem of the Erotic. (3)

Beginning with a reconstruction of ancient Greek and Roman sexual attitudes, the course examines how these attitudes and practices were inherited by, and 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.

RELS 4650. Religion and Ethics. (3)

Same as Phil 4650.
Study of the relation between religion and morality, including both Eastern and Western religious perspectives. Topics may include suchissues as warfare, social justice, sexual ethics, and issues in modern medicine.

RELS 4670. Church and State. (3)

Same as Phil 4670.
Philosophical and theological perspectives on the relationship between church and state. Issues such as conscientious objection, school prayer, the "free exercise" ofreligion, and Islamic attitudes toward the state.

RELS 4675. Christianity and Democracy. (3)

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?

RELS 4680. War, Peace, and Religion. (3)

Same as Phil 4680.
Comparative study of attitudes towards war and peace in major religious traditions. Topics may include the Christian just-war tradition; Islamic notions of jihad; Buddhist renunciation and pacifism; the writings of Gandhi; nuclear arms and the status on noncombatants; civil disobedience and conscientious objection; and religiously motivated terrorism.

RELS 4690. Secularism, Liberalism and Religion. (3)

Exploration of the role of religion and religious values in the modern, secular state with an emphasis on developments in the past thirty years. Topics may include the defense of the principles of modern Liberalism from within religious traditions, and various critiques made by communitarians, Marxists, and Neo-Traditionalists.

RELS 4700. Issues in Religious Studies. (3)

Examination of a selected topic in religion. May be repeated if topic varies, but only six credit hours may be applied toward the major.

RELS 4750.  Seminar in Religious Studies- CTW. (3)

Seminar in Religious Studies. A writing intensive seminar focusing on a specific topic or subfield. Required for all Religious Studies majors. May be repeated if topic varies. Serves as one of the two Critical Thinking Through Writing (CTW) courses required of all religious studies majors.

RELS 4870. Honors Thesis: Research. (1-6)

Prerequisites: consent of instructor and Honors Program director.
Readings on research preparatory to honors thesis.

RELS 4880. Honors Thesis: Writing. (1-6)

Prerequisites: RelS 4870H, consent of instructor and Honors Program director.
Writing or production of honors thesis or project.

RELS 4890. Religion On-site in Atlanta. (3)

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.

RELS 4950. Independent Research. (1-3)

Prerequisite: consent ofinstructor.
Designed to provide students with the opportunity to do more advanced work in an area in which they already have had regular course work. Not to be used as a substitute for regular upper-level courses.
* To register for this course you need to use this form.

RELS 4995. Directed Readings B.I.S -  CTW. (3-4)

Directed Readings designed for Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies students. This course may satisfy the junior and/or senior-level Critical Thinking Through Writing requirement. 


Courses Listed by Area

Note: Courses marked  in red are required of all majors.

Core Curriculum:
2001  Introduction to World Religions

 3050  Introduction to Religion
 3230. Philosophy of Religion. 
 3270. Survey of World Religions

 3250. Biblical Studies. 
 3290. Jesus In and Outside the Gospels.

 3400. Introduction to Judaism.
 4450. Modern Judaism.
 4460  Judaism in the South
 4470  Martin Buber: Thought & Influence
 4490. Topics in Judaism
 3290. Jesus In and Outside the Gospels.
 3300. Early Christianity
 3305. Modern Christian Thought. 
 3310. Contemporary Religious Thought.
 4040. Augustine and Aquinas.
 4060  Evil and God
 4675  Christianity and Democracy
 3500. Introduction to Islam.    
 3520. Sufism and Islamic Mysticism.
 4480. Islamic Fundamentalism and the Modern World.    
 4483. Issues in Islamic Faith/Practice
 4485  Ethics and Morality in Islam
 4570. Topics in Islam.    
 4580. Life of Muhammad.
American Religion:    
 3260. Asian Religions in America
 3350. New Religious Movements
 3900. Religion and Popular Culture.   
 4200. Religion in America.  

Asian Religion:
 3260. Asian Religions in America
 4610. Hinduism.
 4612. Gita, Yogasutra, and Other Hindu Texts.
 4615. Buddhism. 
 4620. Confucianism and Taoism
 4622  Classical Chinese Philosophy
 4625. Zen and Shinto.
 4628. Topics in Asian Religion. 

 3950. Religion, Morality and Film. 
 3970. Tragedy and Comedy
 4240. Death and the Afterlife 
 4260. Religion and Literature. 
 4270. Women and Religion.   
 4290. Pilgrimage
 4295. Religion, Sport and Spirituality. 
 4630. Comparative Study of Mysticism.
 4640. Religion and Sexuality 
 4750. CTW Seminar in Religious Studies
 3950. Religion, Morality and Film.
 4060  Evil and God
 4255  Religion Race and Nation 
 4622  Classical Chinese Philosophy
 4650. Religion and Ethics.
 4670. Church and State
 4675  Christianity and Democracy
 4680. War, Peace, and Religion.    
 4690. Secularism, Liberalism and Religion.
 3750  CTW Theories and Methods in Religious Studies
 4080  Anthropological Approaches to Religion
 4225  Psychology and Religion
 4245  Cognitive Foundations of Religion