Religious Studies Made Simple

  • Learn at your own pace

    Learning takes time, but time is a precious resource! That's why we make sure there's no expiry date, so you can learn at a pace to suit your needs.

  • Multimedia content

    The course includes clearly written lessons, high quality images, engaging video lectures, and links to external resources to boost your learning. No boring bits!

  • Share & collaborate

    Learning is more exciting when you get to share your journey. You'll be able to post questions and spark discussions with other students, or contact your tutor if you have any issues.

  • Get recognised

    If you complete the full course, you'll receive an official OCRS certificate of completion, perfect for demonstrating your achievement!

Spiritual concepts from around the world

Religious impulses have created some of the most enduring and powerful traditions in human history, how can we investigate these beliefs, practices, and communities without belonging to them ourselves? How can we be respectful while still maintaining a critical distance?


These are just some of the questions you'll be exploring in this online course, which offers an introduction to contemporary religious studies from an academic perspective.


Delivered over four modules, we'll go right from the basics of what a religion is (and why we use the word 'religion'), to how we can approach our studies with self-awareness and an appropriate attitude, and some of the methods and tools available to us.


You'll be introduced to religious ideas from a variety of backgrounds, including Sikhi (Sikhism), Islam, and Buddhism, as well as New Religious Movements such as Caodaism and Rizalism.


The course is suitable for beginners and those looking to deepen their knowledge, or anyone who wants to learn more about the contemporary study of religion.

Reviews

  • Very Well Done

    Jasmine Morris

    As someone who studies religion in their own personal time, I would say this is a great introductory course for those who want to start off on the “right foo...

    Read More

    As someone who studies religion in their own personal time, I would say this is a great introductory course for those who want to start off on the “right foot”. And for those (like myself) who have been studying religion, this is a great refresher course. This course also helped me to narrow in on what exactly I want to study in regards to religion (which is like what Luke said, a multidisciplinary field). Thanks Luke for all the hard work you put into this

    Read Less
  • Fantastic!

    S P

    Using this to give a few ideas for online teaching (due to the coronavirus school closure). Fascinating ideas and ways to teach these beliefs!

    Using this to give a few ideas for online teaching (due to the coronavirus school closure). Fascinating ideas and ways to teach these beliefs!

    Read Less
  • Excellent way to access religion... even if you're not re...

    Ruth McCready

    Easy and informed way to learn about religions in a general sense. Would be great for anyone who wants to gain perspective on how religion works in the real ...

    Read More

    Easy and informed way to learn about religions in a general sense. Would be great for anyone who wants to gain perspective on how religion works in the real world. Could be great for businesses who want a short course to help employees understand other religions and cultures.

    Read Less
  • Brilliant

    Raoof Mir

Course curriculum

  • 2
    Module 1: Definitions
  • 3
    Module 2: Perspectives
    • Literary bias, and marginalised voices
    • Case study: the Ramayana
    • Alternative perspectives
    • Religion: a Western phenomenon?
    • Sects, cults, and New Religious Movements
    • Case study: Caodaism
    • Internal diversity and the world religions paradigm
    • Religion or religions?
    • Case study: Mahayana and Theravada
    • Similarity and difference
  • 4
    Module 3: Interpretations
    • Who creates religion?
    • Case study: Sharia Law in the UK
    • No universal agreement
    • Bias, context, epoche
    • Reductionists vs Religionists
    • Flexible frameworks
    • Cataloguing the types
    • Ninian Smart
    • Ritual Dimension
    • Experiential Dimension
    • Mythological Dimension
    • Doctrinal Dimension
    • Ethical Dimension
    • Institutional Dimension
    • Material Dimension
    • Interdimensional travel
  • 5
    Module 4: Methods
    • How can we study religion?
    • Sociological approaches to the study of religion
    • Scientific approaches to the study of religion
    • Psychological approaches to the study of religion
    • Phenomenological approaches to the study of religion
    • Religious studies as a multidisciplinary field
    • Looking at lived religion
    • Secularisation theory and liquid religion
    • Religious literacy
    • Guide for the student of religion
  • 6
    Conclusion
    • PDF Course Notes - yours to keep!
    • Conclusion

What you get when you enrol...

  • Video lectures

  • Downloadable PDF copy of the course notes

  • Access to online discussion areas

  • Access to the OCRS Student Group on Facebook

  • Dedicated support from your tutor by email

  • Certificate of Completion when you finish

Join today!

Like what you've seen? Enrol today and start your journey towards religious literacy.

Get started now

Your tutor

  • Luke Burns

    Director, OCRS

    Luke Burns

    I have a keen interest in religion, spirituality, and the critical investigation of religious traditions from around the world. In 2016 I founded the Online Centre for Religious Studies, an organisation that aims to make religious studies accessible for a wide audience, without hiding anything behind specialist language. I was in part inspired by the way that open source programming documentation is often written in a clear, open, and friendly style, without sacrificing detail or meaning. I am currently an undergraduate student at the Open University, working towards a BA in Humanities with a focus on Religious Studies.

How to talk about religion, without talking religiously

I started getting interested in religion about ten years ago -- and not just one religion -- I mean the whole thing. Religious systems from all over the world, from Christianity to Ayahuasca Shamans and back. I was fascinated by the complex rituals, the intense experiences, the baffling statements about who we are and where we come from.

If you've felt that way, you'll probably also know that finding good quality information about religion in general, and individual traditions in particular, can be hard work.

I’ve grown up with the internet, so my impulse was to look online for knowledge, but everywhere I looked I found two options: go to university, or go to church (or mosque, or gurdwara, or...). There were a few places offering real scholarship online, but mostly it was badly formatted religious websites, potluck on Wikipedia, or books. I chose books (a lot of books).

But without any guidance about who to read, I went through a lot of material I later discovered was out of date, questionable, or flat out wrong.

That's why, since 2016 (and honestly, even before that), I've been amassing material and building this course -- to bring you straight to contemporary academic perspectives, explained clearly, and without the barriers of heavy academic language.

This course will clear up any confusion you might have about what religion is, give you the tools for understanding religious traditions in the world, and speed up your learning journey.

Pricing

Sure, sounds great, but how much does it cost?

FAQ

  • Do I have to be religious to join?

    Definitely not! This course is all about the academic study of religion, it's not training you to be more (or less!) religious.

  • How long does the course last?

    Completely up to you - the basic release schedule takes place over eight weeks, but you have lifetime access, so feel free to study in your own time and at your own pace.

  • Is this course right for me?

    If you're curious about religion, and want a clean, modern approach to studying traditions from around the world, then yes! The material is aimed at beginners, but we go into depth on quite a few areas, so it's ideal for those with experience who want to broaden their knowledge.

  • What about refunds?

    You can cancel your enrolment for any reason with the first 14 days - check out our terms and conditions for more information: https://oc-rs.org/terms/

  • Do I get support?

    Absolutely, you can email me at any time if you have questions about the course material. There's also a discussion area where you can reach out to other students.