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Religions and Cultures MA

Students apply to the guided research project (GRP) option. Once admitted to the program, students have the opportunity to transfer to the thesis option. To enter the thesis option students must complete 9 credits and normally achieve a minimum GPA of 3.70.

Admission Requirements

The normal minimum requirement for admission to the MA program in Religions and Cultures is a BA or equivalent with high standing in Religious Studies, Judaic Studies or a discipline in the Social Sciences, Humanities, or Fine Arts.

An undergraduate degree in religious studies or Judaic studies, or its equivalent. Qualified applicants requiring prerequisite courses may be required to take up to 12 undergraduate credits in addition to and as a part of the regular graduate program. Applicants with deficiencies in their undergraduate preparation may be required to take a qualifying program. Qualifying program students in the Department of Religions and Cultures must complete their program with a minimum GPA of 3.50 with no courses graded lower than a "B+" to be considered for admission to the graduate program. Qualifying students must reapply to the MA program on completion of their qualifying program.

Proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the Graduate Admission page for further information on the Language Proficiency requirements and exemptions.

Transfer Credits. See Transfer Credits in Graduate Admissions section.

Requirements for the Degree

  1. Credits. A fully-qualified candidate is required to complete a minimum of 45 credits.

  2. Program Options. All students enter in the Guided Research Project option and later have the opportunity to apply for the Thesis option.

  3. Language Requirement. Normally, students acquire knowledge of the classical and/or modern languages appropriate to their area of specialization. Specific requirements are established in consultation with the Graduate Program Director. Students who intend to pursue graduate studies at the PhD level are also encouraged to gain proficiency in the language or languages of the primary sources relevant to their proposed research.  
     

Academic Regulations

  1. Academic Standing. Please refer to the Academic Standing section of the Calendar for a detailed review of the Academic Regulations.

  2. Residence. The minimum residence requirement is one year (3 terms) of full-time graduate study, or the equivalent in part-time study.

  3. Time Limit. Please refer to the Academic Regulation page for further details regarding the Time Limit requirements.

  4. Graduation Requirement. In order to graduate, students must have satisfied all degree requirements and have a cumulative GPA of 2.70.
     

Master of/Magisteriate in Arts (Religions and Cultures) with Guided Research Project Option

Candidates are required to take the following:

  1. Core Course. RELI 6001 Method and Theory in the Study of Religion (3 credits).

  2. Elective Courses. Five 3-credit courses (15 credits). Courses are grouped into RELI 6012-6018 (Topics in Judaic Studies) and RELI 6002-6008 (Topics in Religions and Cultures) and selected in consultation with the Graduate Program Director. Normally students may not take more than two 3-credit courses outside the Department. With the permission of the Graduate Program Director, up to six credits may be taken from courses offered by other departments or other universities.

  3. Guided Research Project Proposal. RELI 6020 (3 credits). Students must submit a guided research project (GRP) proposal on a topic chosen in consultation with the GRP supervisor and the proposal must be approved by the Graduate Program Director.

  4. Guided Research Project. RELI 6021 (24 credits).
    This may take one of three forms: 
    1. Substantial Academic Research Paper. Students complete a major research paper (normally in their third or fourth term) under the supervision of a faculty member, in which they develop themes or subjects engaged in coursework.
    2. An Artistic Production. These projects entail creating art or an artistic performance that reflects fluency with the rituals, practices, and cultures of particular communities that the student has studied. Projects can address and respond to issues facing these communities. 
    3. A Technical Project. Projects in this area focus on the acquisition and demonstration of technical skills related to the study of religions and cultures.
       

Master of/Magisteriate in Arts (Religions and Cultures) with Thesis Option

Candidates are required to take the following:

  1. Core Course. RELI 6001 Method and Theory in the Study of Religion (3 credits).

  2. Elective Courses. Three 3-credit courses (9 credits). Courses are grouped into RELI 6012-6018 (Topics in Judaic Studies) and RELI 6002-6008 (Topics in Religions and Cultures) and selected in consultation with the Graduate Program Director. Normally students may not take more than one 3-credit course outside the Department. With the permission of the Graduate Program Director, up to three credits may be taken from courses offered by other departments or other universities.

  3. Thesis Proposal. RELI 6030 (3 credits). Students must submit a thesis proposal on a topic chosen in consultation with the thesis supervisor and the proposal must be approved by the Department's Graduate Studies committee.

  4. Thesis. RELI 6031 (30 credits). The thesis is a work of primary research that normally runs to 18,000-24,000 words (about 60-80 pages), exclusive of footnotes and bibliography. Students are expected to have the requisite language skills to undertake their proposed research. Prepared under the supervision of a faculty member, the thesis is defended orally before a committee comprised of the Graduate Program Director, the faculty supervisor, and one additional member of the Religions and Cultures faculty.
     

Courses

Required Course

All students must take RELI 6001 Method and Theory in the Study of Religion (3 credits).

RELI 6001 Method and Theory in the Study of Religion
This course provides students with an understanding of the major approaches to the academic study of religion. It introduces students to key theories of religion as a social and cultural phenomenon, as well as contemporary methodologies and the ways in which they colour, control, and reflect the representation of religious experience and expression. Students develop a critical theoretical orientation for their research and a familiarity with the skills that they apply in their coursework and final project.
Note: Students who have received credit for RELI 609 or 610 may not take this course for credit.

Electives

Candidates for the Master of Arts in Religions and Cultures may select courses from the courses listed below, as well as those offered by the Master of Arts program in Judaic Studies. Courses are selected in consultation with the Graduate Program Director. Students in the guided research project option select five (5) elective courses and students in the thesis option select three (3) elective courses.

RELI 6002 Texts, Literature, and Interpretation 
This course analyzes literature or sacred writings in their historical context. It addresses contemporary literature and popular written media, or alternatively, focuses on foundational corpora of a community. Emphasis is placed on familiarizing students with literary and textual critical approaches to the materials under study.

RELI 6003 Ethnography and Lived Traditions
This course familiarizes students with theoretical approaches drawn from anthropology and ethnography to the study of religions and cultures. It focuses primarily on contemporary forms of lived religion, and examines topics such as mission and conversion, ritual practice, sacred space and pilgrimage, constructions of public and private, and conceptions of the secular.

RELI 6004 Ethics, Philosophy, and Worldviews
This course examines ethical, philosophical, and natural scientific approaches to religious studies. Topics may include religious ethics, constructions of the sacred, the self and the body, cosmology and metaphysics, religion and the natural world as well as the evolutionary and cognitive study of religion.

RELI 6005 Material and Popular Culture 
This course explores how the history of religions can be understood through material and popular culture. Topics may include the production and use of objects, images, ornament, iconography, epigraphy, and sacred space, art, film, and music. It considers how attention to material and/or popular culture can enhance the study of religious and cultural concepts and practices.

RELI 6006 Women, Gender, and Sexuality 
This course familiarizes students with perspectives on gender and sexuality within particular cultural contexts and/or religious traditions. It also introduces students to theoretical approaches drawn from feminist, gender, and/or queer studies.

RELI 6007 Regional and Intercultural Studies  
This course  focuses on a particular historical and cultural region, for instance, Tibet/East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, or North America. Its goal is to give students a nuanced and deeper understanding of an area of the world. Courses emphasize the coexistence and interdependence of traditions and communities over time, migration and immigration, responses to and conceptions of difference, and responses to changing social and political circumstances.

RELI 6008  Community Engagement
Prerequisite: Permission of the Graduate Program Director.
In this course, students work in a local community organization or institution in order to apply their training in religions and cultures to address real-world problems solving around religious tolerance, diversity, or issues of social justice. Examples includeworking on programming with Concordia’s Multi-faith and Spirituality Centre; working as a religious educator inside or alongside a particular religious community; organizing and supporting grassroots efforts related to ethics and social justice, such as sustainability, racism and Islamophobia, disability, LGBTQ, or Indigenous rights.

Guided Research Project Option

RELI 6020 Guided Research Project Proposal (Religions and Cultures) (3 credits)
The proposal for the guided research project (GRP) is 2,500-3,000 words in length. The GRP proposal outlines the nature of the student’s project, whether a research paper, artistic or technical project. It outlines how the project is connected to a student’s coursework, career or academic goals and the timeframe in which they complete the project. It includes a bibliography of at least ten academic sources, and any primary materials (such as editions of critical texts), which the students use.

RELI 6021 Guided Research Project (Religions and Cultures) (24 credits)
The guided research project (GRP) is 11,000-12,500 words (about 40-50 pages) in length, exclusive of footnotes and bibliography. The GRP is usually undertaken in a student’s third or fourth semester (after the completion of coursework). This research paper develops themes or subjects with which a student engaged in his or her course work. 

Thesis Option

RELI 6030 Thesis Proposal (Religions and Cultures) (3 credits)
The proposal for the thesis is 2,500-3,000 words in length. A thesis proposal outlines the student’s proposed research project, locates their research in relation to existing scholarship, clarifies their methodology and research questions, and includes a bibliography of at least ten academic sources, and any primary materials (such as editions of critical texts), which the students use.

RELI 6031 Thesis (Religions and Cultures) (30 credits)
The thesis is 18,000-24,000 words (about 60-80 pages) in length, exclusive of footnotes and bibliography. The thesis provides an opportunity for the student to both demonstrate their historical and cultural knowledge and depth of understanding of a particular subject in the study of religions and cultures. Students also demonstrate facility with one or two methodological approaches studied in the course of their program, and illustrate their capacity to apply them to a particular problem or issue in religious studies. Thesis writers have the requisite language skills to undertake this more rigorous type of research, for instance, Sanskrit, Yiddish, Hebrew, Arabic, or Greek.

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