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Religious Studies at The Open University

Why study religion at the OU?

The Religious Studies Department is committed to research and teaching which furthers understanding of the role of religion in local, global, diasporic and virtual contexts. We study the ways in which communities and individual lives shape and are shaped by religion. We are committed to ethical research and teaching that does not promote any particular religious or non-religious viewpoint and we neither assume nor preclude personal religious commitment on the part of staff or students. We pursue the critical, academic study of historical and contemporary practices, beliefs and theologies from a broad range of religions. To this end we apply insights from multiple academic disciplines and methodological viewpoints including but not confined to: anthropology, history, phenomenology, psychology, sociology, textual studies and visual and material cultural studies.

Our distance learning courses are grounded in the research carried out by individual staff members and research groups. In keeping with the mission of The Open University, we aim to promote social justice by reaching out to large numbers of students of diverse backgrounds, and by empowering them with a critical understanding of the values, ideas and ways of living of people they might not be able to encounter directly.

If you are interested in following an undergraduate course in Religious Studies, contact our Student Registration and Enquiry Service. If you are interested in post-graduate study in the department, see the Research School's website for the Research Degree Prospectus and application forms.

Religious Studies is also an excellent choice if you study to improve your employment prospects. Follow this link to find out why religious studies is valued highly by employers and what careers you can expect to have after graduating.

Follow the links on the left to find out more about current and planned undergraduate courses, staff research interests and publications, postgraduate research, projects and forthcoming events organized by members of the department.

Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective blog

Our department blog covers a wide array of religious and other-than-religious phenomena. We're interested in contemporary religion, and its interactions with culture, society and politics. We're also fascinated by issues of continuity and change. The blog will feature news about our research and our thoughts on topical items in the media. Visit the blog now ...


60 second adventures in religion

For an alternative introduction to religious studies, see our light-hearted cartoons, with a voice-over from David Mitchell.

Window of the Dome of the Rock, photo

Glastonbury Tor, 2006 photo

Kadampa shrine photo