Introducing MA in Religious Studies (F57)

Uploaded by TheOpenUniversity on 15.05.2009

I'm the Co-Chair of the MA in Religious Studies.
I'm a member of the Religious Studies Department at the Open University.
My particular work is in contemporary religions,
Judaism and Paganism in particular
but I have interests in a wide range of religions.
The first part of this MA programme is divided into four blocks.
We begin with a range of issues,
controversies in the study of religions.
Some issues that may sound very basic like, what is religion?
What's religion like in the contemporary world?
And what is religious studies?
Some of you may have touched on those issues already
but we'll be doing it at a more advanced level,
more complicated questions,
and hopefully more exciting material for you to engage with.
In the second block we engage with religion in contemporary Britain
and we explore what's been happening
in religious changes since the late 19th century through to now.
We engage with issues like whether Britain has been a Christian country,
what the nature of religious diversity is in the world now.
In the third block we look at approaches to the study of religions.
We're looking at things like the anthropology of religion,
psychology of religion, sociology of religion
and a whole range of other ways of engaging with contemporary religions.
And we're going to do that through the lens of pilgrimage,
sacred places and performances,
things that people do in different places.
So we're going to look at the diversity
of ways that people think about what religion is about,
how it's to be done in particular places
and what it involves for people in the real world.
In Block 4 we look at methodologies for studying religions,
ways of actually finding out about religions
and so we're going to engage with historical methods
and contemporary methods.
We're going to look at fieldwork, interview techniques.
We're going to engage with archive research, textual studies,
and so we're going to give you more scope
for picking a topic that interests you
and finding out something about it that explores and applies
a particular set of methods.
The second year of the programme is the dissertation year.
This begins with a discussion between you and the tutor supervisor
about a project that interests you
and in which you discuss particular ways of doing the research,
what's available, how you'll achieve the results
and what it'll lead to.
At the end of the programme you'll come out with an MA.
This might be a very useful foundation for going on to do a PhD
but for many of you the MA itself is enough.
So we're making sure the programme hangs together
for every possibility, finishing with an MA
or going on to do a PhD and even more advanced research.
I hope you've been inspired by this introduction to our course
and I look forward to welcoming you personally.