1. Contact Information
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Course Description and Credit Hours
  4. Required Texts
  5. Course Objectives
  6. Student Learning Outcomes
  7. Other Course Materials
  8. Outline Of Topics
  9. Exams and Assignments
  10. Grading Policy
  11. Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework
  12. Attendance Policy
  13. Custom Sections
  14. Statements on Academic Misconduct
  15. Statement On Disability Accommodations
  16. Severe Weather Protocol
  17. Pregnant Student Accommodations
  18. Religious Observances
  19. UAct Statement

Intro To Religious Studies

REL 100-920Fall 2018 | 3 Credit Hours


Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi

Contact Information

UA Campus Directory:

Name: Dr. Mary Rebecca Read-Wahidi

Box Number: 870264

Email: Blackboard Learn Mail tool (primary)

Alternate Email: mrread@ua.edu (Responses to email will be provided within 36 hours during weekdays.)

Department Information: Russel McCutcheon, Department Chair

Phone: (205) 348-5271

Email: religiousstudies@as.ua.edu


UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:

No prereqs found

Course Description

Course Description and Credit Hours

No description found

As a general introduction to the academic study of religion, REL 100 examines the function of religion in relation to human beliefs, social practices, and culture in general. The course surveys a broad number of important debates in the history of Religious Studies, such as the definition of religion, theories on the origins of religion, the comparison of religions, and religion’s psychological, sociological, and political functions. The course emphasizes general, cognitive skills essential throughout the human sciences. We will look at the specific case studies of myth and ritual to provide an opportunity to apply theoretical conceptions from religious studies to specific data.

Required Texts

Required Texts from UA Supply Store:

Course Objectives

Upon the completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify and analyze the complications in and implications of defining “religion” in an academically sophisticated manner.

  • Describe and distinguish between different scholarly approaches to definition/classification as it relates to the study of religion.

  • Identify the ways in which various approaches to religion and classification are used in contemporary contexts.

  • Examine the history of the study of religion, along with its key theorists.

Student Learning Outcomes


Other Course Materials

Other readings will be available online as links and attachments in the course modules.

Outline of Topics

Module 1: What's in a Name—The Process and Politics of Classification

Module 2: Lost in Translation—Religion and the Migration of Meaning

Module 3: Getting to the Heart of the Matter-Essentialism

Module 4: It's What You Do That Defines You-Functionalism

Module 5: Religion Meets Responsibility-Existentialism

Module 6: Family Resemblance Approach

Module 7: Religion and Communities-Studying Insiders and Outsiders

Module 8: When Us Meets Them—A Case Study in Cults

Module 9: Making Meaning with Myths and Rituals

Module 10: Legislating Religion-Public Space and the Limits of Religious Freedom

Exams and Assignments


Each module includes discussions to which you will post your own responses, and respond to each other’s posts on the discussion board as instructed. The discussion board will be important for you to understand the concepts beyond the basic terms by sharing and refining your ideas together. While students are encouraged to share their own perspectives and interpretations of the readings, they are also expected to do so in the context of logical arguments that are supported by the course readings and materials. The instructor will not necessarily correct any inaccurate statements made students as the discussions unfold, but extent to which you address each point with supporting evidence as outlined in the discussion instructions will determine your final grade on that segment of the course.


One formal Essay writing, requires you to apply some of the theoretical ideas and critical thinking issues to particular films. This formal writing assignment should be submitted by the due date listed in the course schedule, and completed according to the instructions.

Three additional assignments, Comparing Religious Definitions, Family Resemblance List of Characteristics, and Myth in Big Fish will also require you to write extensively about theoretical ideas and critical thinking issues, but these assignments are less formal and briefer than the Essay.


At the end of each module, before proceeding to the next, you will complete a five-question review quiz. You may use reading material and notes while you take the quizzes if you are uncertain about the answers, but be aware that you will have only 10 minutes to complete each quiz. These quizzes are meant to provide you with review material for studying purposes and to reinforce certain important pieces of information before moving out of each module. The quizzes should feel like simple reviews. If this is not the case, you may want to review readings or PowerPoints for a particular module if the quiz seems difficult.


This course uses exams to assess your learning. Exams will be conducted in Blackboard Learn with a time limit. Exams One and Two and the longer, more comprehensive Final Exam, like the quizzes, will be multiple choice and will cover terms, concepts, comparisons, and readings. A portion of the Final Exam will focus specifically on the material that will be covered in Modules 9-10, and the rest of the Final Exam will focus on questions from the entire course.

  • The Final Exam will not be available to take before the Exam period.

  • Prior to taking each Exam be sure that you have viewed all lectures, read all materials, and completed all assignments relevant to that exam.

  • You may not use notes or any outside assistance during an exam.

  • Do not click the exam link unless you are ready to begin and complete the exam at that time.

  • Exams not completed during the specified dates and within the specified time limits will receive no credit, with few exceptions. Once you begin the exam, you must finish it in one sitting and once the exam has been submitted, you cannot return to it, so be careful not to submit the exam before you have finished taking it.

  • In the event of a problem with an online exam, inform your instructor using the Mail tool in Blackboard Learn as soon as possible.

Grading Policy

Final grades are calculated out of a total of 1000 points for the course, and these points will be broken down as follows.


Grade Points

Grade Percentage

Assignments: (Comparing Religious Definitions, Family Resemblance List of Characteristics, Myth in Big Fish)

150 (3 @ 50 points)



150 (15 @ 10 points)



200 (10 @ 20 points)






200 (2 @ 100 points)


Final Exam






100-97% = A+

96.9-93% = A

92.9-90% = A-

89.9-87% = B+

86.9-83% = B

82.9-80% = B-

76.9-73% = C+

79.9-77% = C

72.9-70% = C-

69.9-67% = D+

66.9-63% = D

62.9-60% = D-

59.9-0% = F

Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework

All module work must be completed by the due date/time posted in the Course Schedule. Late work will only be accepted with permission from the instructor. There is no guarantee that late assignments will be accepted—that is up to the instructor's discretion on a case-by-case basis and points may be deducted for late submissions. If an emergency arises, and you foresee having to miss multiple assignments, you must make arrangements with the instructor.

Attendance Policy


Minimum Technical Skills

  • Participation in an online course requires some basic knowledge of computer technology. You should be able to: 

  • Navigate and use Blackboard Learn (see Blackboard Learn Tutorials if you need assistance). 

  • Understand basic computer usage, including keyboard, mouse, CD drive, and printer. 

  • Access the Internet via DSL, cable modem, or a network interface. 

  • Use the computer operating system (Windows/Mac OS) to: 

    1. Create folders. 

    2. Find, copy, move, rename, and delete files. 

    3. Launch, run, and switch between software applications. 

  • Use a word processing program to (see Word 2007 or 2003 tutorials for PC users; Word 2008 for Mac users, if you need assistance): 

  1. Create, format, edit, spell check, save, print, and retrieve a document. 

  2. Cut, copy, and paste information within and between documents.

  3. Save a word processing document in text or rtf format. 

  • Use a web browser to: 

1. Open, print, and/or save web pages to a local or removable storage drive. 

2. Open and save Adobe Acrobat files (PDF files). 

3. Create, maintain, and manage a list of web pages (Favorites/Bookmarks). 

4. Use a search engine's basic features to find information on the web. 

  • Download and install programs from remote servers. 

  • Use email to: 

1. Send, receive, store, and retrieve messages. 

2. Send, receive, and open file attachments. 

System Requirements

This course requires a high-speed Internet connection and the following free multimedia plug-ins:

  • Adobe Reader

  • Flash Player

  • PowerPoint Viewer

  • QuickTime, RealPlayer, or Windows Media Player

You may need a plug-in to listen to the Tegrity lectures. PC users require no special software; however, Mac users must adhere to the following instructions: Outside of any browser, viewing the Tegrity lectures on Mac machines requires a beta VLC plug-in (VLC is an open source media player similar to Windows Media Player or QuickTime). Tegrity will automatically prompt Mac users to download the plug-in the first time Tegrity is accessed. Do not search for a stand-alone VLC player because it won't work; users need the actual plug-in.

You must have speakers installed and working properly on your computer before beginning the course.

You will need access to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel to complete assignments. If you do not have access to the Microsoft Office applications, you may download the Open Office Freeware, an open productivity suite. You will be able to complete your assignments using this freeware, and save your files with Microsoft Office file extensions.

Statement on Academic Misconduct

Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Academic Misconduct Policy provided in the Online Catalog.

Statement On Disability Accommodations

Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the Online Catalog.

Severe Weather Protocol

Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the Online Catalog.

Pregnant Student Accommodations

Title IX protects against discrimination related to pregnancy or parental status. If you are pregnant and will need accommodations for this class, please review the University’s FAQs on the UAct website.

Religious Observances

Under the Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observances, students should notify the instructor in writing or via email during the first two weeks of the semester of their intention to be absent from class for religious observance. The instructor will work to provide reasonable opportunity to complete academic responsibilities as long as that does not interfere with the academic integrity of the course. See full guidelines at Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines.

UAct Statement

The UAct website provides an overview of The University's expectations regarding respect and civility.