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. Notification of Changes
  14. Custom Sections
  15. Statements on Academic Misconduct
  16. Statement On Disability Accommodations
  17. Severe Weather Protocol
  18. Pregnant Student Accommodations
  19. Religious Observances
  20. UAct Statement

Religions of World

REL 102-001Fall 2020 | 3 Credit Hours


Dr. Steven Ramey

Contact Information

UA Campus Directory:


UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:

No prereqs found

Course Description

Course Description and Credit Hours

This comparative study of religions highlights complexity in world religions. Topics, such as texts, practices, and deities, organize the study of different pairs of religions.

This Core course is an interdisciplinary introduction to the comparative study of practices and concepts identified as the world’s religions, highlighting different ways individuals and groups across cultures organize lives and values; students will develop skills in critical analysis and apply them to different descriptions of various religions. The main religions discussed will be Hinduism, Chinese Religions, Buddhism, Japanese Religions, African Religions, Christianity, and Islam.

This course will be entirely online. Students will need to have access to a computer or other device and the internet to work through the modules and assignments. Please note that mobile devices do not always function well for quizzes and tests. While the class does not meet at a specific time, allowing students to work on the modules for the week on their own schedule, modules in subsequent weeks will include responses to questions and assessments from students submitted during the previous week, so keeping up with the weekly modules allows better interaction with the course. HU IBA ASST

Required Texts

Required Texts from UA Supply Store:
  • NONE / NO TEXT REQUIRED (Required)

Required readings will be available on Blackboard as PDFs.

Course Objectives

  • Introduce students to information about various practices and beliefs associated with religions.

  • Discuss the construction of the category "world religions" and the implications of those constructions.

  • Develop strategies to analyze critically representations of religions.

  • Apply these critical analysis strategies to contemporary media representations.

Student Learning Outcomes

Scholars in Rel 102 will be able to

  1. Analyze critically the history of the category “world religions” and the values implicit within it.

  2. Define basic terms associated with the histories and practices of a broad range of ideas and practices commonly labeled religions.

  3. Evaluate the assumptions behind contrasting elements in representations of the same religions

  4. Develop a sophisticated method for critical analysis of media accounts.

  5. Critique the specific categories commonly associated with religions and the agendas and assumptions that those categories reveal.

Other Course Materials

This course will make signifiant use of Blackboard Learn (https://ualearn.blackboard.com). You will need internet access to complete the course, as well as access to a computer or other device, and the tools that we will use in this course function best with updated browsers. For general tutorials for Blackboard, you can go to https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Student. If you have problems using Blackboard or any of the other tools within Blackboard, please contact the professor as early as possible.

No additional course materials are necessary, beyond the readings posted as PDFs on Blackboard and the required computing and internet capabilities to work with Blackboard, Panopto recordings, and Hypothes.is.

Outline of Topics

This course is divided into (typically) two modules per week. These modules, available through Blackboard, will include mini lectures recorded on Panopto, and multiple assignments (quizzes, discussion board posts, Hypothes.is comments, and ungraded polls). Modules for the week will be posted on Monday afternoon, and students should move through the modules at the own pace, with the goal of completing the modules for each week by Sunday at 5:00 pm.

At the end of the week's modules, students will also have the opportunity to submit questions (about the course elements, details from the reading or lectures, or extended questions from lectures). Anyone is welcome to address these questions through Blackboard discussion posts, and the GTAs and professor will address questions as much as possible in the posts and in the next week's classes.

The following schedule of modules, readings, and assignments is tentative and subject to change. Any changes will be announced in class and/or via email as early as possible, allowing sufficient time for students to adjust.




Assignments and completion goals




1 Module by 5:00 pm August 23


World Religions and Critical Analysis

Selected online readings

2 Modules by 5:00 pm August 30





2 Modules by 5:00 pm Sept 6


Hinduism and Chinese Religions

Chinese Religion

2 Modules by 5:00 pm Sept 13


Chinese Religions

2 Modules by 5:00 pm Sept 20


Review and Test 1

Selected online readings

1 Module and online test by 5:00 pm Sept 27





2 Modules by 5:00 pm Oct 4


Buddhism and Japanese Religions

Japanese Religions

2 Modules by 5:00 pm Oct 11


Japanese Religions

2 Modules by 5:00 pm Oct 18


Review and Test 2

Selected online readings

1 Module and online test by 5:00 pm Oct 25



African Religions

African Religions

2 Modules by 5:00 pm Nov 1


African Religions and Islam


2 Modules by 5:00 pm Nov 8



2 Modules and Critical Analysis Project due by 5:00 pm Nov 15




2 Modules by 5:00 pm Nov 22


Christianity and Review

2 Modules by 5:00 pm Dec 6


Final Exam week

Submit final Critical Analysis Project by noon on Dec. 11

Exams and Assignments


This online course is divided into modules. The typical week will include 2 modules that have brief lectures and some combination of a poll, quiz, discussion board post, and Hypothes.is posts. Polls are not graded but allow us to see what students have learned. Graded items in each module (quiz, discussion board post, comments on Hypothes.is) will be worth a total of between 15-25 points per module (averaging about 20 points per module). The total points possible for the module assignments will be approximately 540. Any points over 500 points will be treated as bonus points.

Online quizzes: Approximately half of the modules will contain an online quiz containing multiple choice and/or short answer questions that come from the readings and course lectures. Each quiz will have a posted time limit and can only be attempted once. Students are welcome to use readings and notes from class to assist in discerning the correct answers, but quizzes must be completed individually, without assistance from other students.

Discussion Board Posts: Over half of the modules will have a question that directs students to post a response to a discussion board on Blackboard. Points will be awarded automatically for submitting an answer to the Discussion Board for that module as long as a substantive answer is provided that addresses the question or a substantive comment that builds on a previous student's post to the question.

Hypothes.is Posts: Over half of the modules will have a collaborative annotation exercise using Hypothes.is, which is integrated within Blackboard. Students will be divided into groups and asked to post one or two substantive comments on the PDF on Hypothes.is. These comments should involve highlighting a portion of the text that the student asks a question about or critiques how the topic is presented in that word or phrase or image. We will work together on Hypothes.is to illustrate the process and expectation of comments.


The course includes two tests. The first addresses Hinduism and Chinese Religions, and the second covers Buddhism and Japanese Religions. The material on the test will include multiple choice questions, short answers, and 1 short (single paragraph) essay. To prepare for the tests, each student should be familiar with the modules (including lectures, quizzes, discussions, and readings) for each section, including but not limited to important terms in the readings). The essay question will be provided before each test so that students can prepare an informed response. Tests will have a time limit and will allow students to use notes and readings. However, students should complete each test individually. Working together to study for a test is encouraged; working together to complete a test is not.


The Critical Analysis Project involves each scholar presenting their analysis of a news article of their choice that represents / addresses one or more religions or religion generally. The various points of analysis will be discussed throughout the semester and practiced collaboratively in the Hypothes.is assignments in many modules. Details about form and submission will be provided during the semester. The project is due at 5:00 pm on November 22.


Instead of a final exam, the final project for the course will be similar to the Critical Analysis Project, allowing each student the opportunity to improve their performance on this second opportunity, which is worth 150 points, more than the Critical Analysis Project. The source analyzed must be a different source than used in the previous project. The Final Critical Analysis Project is due at noon on Dec. 11.

Grading Policy


1000 points possible

Module Assignments (Quizzes, Discussions posts, Hypothes.is posts) (15-25 points per module, averaging 20 points each module)


2 tests (100 points each)


Critical Analysis Project


Final Critical Analysis Project


Final grades will be based on the following ranges: 970-1000+ = A+; 920-969 = A; 900-919 = A-; 870-899 = B+; 820-869 = B; 800-819 = B-; 770-799 = C+; 720-769 = C; 700-719= C-; 600-699 = D; 0-599 = F


Each student can earn 5 points extra credit, added to the total points for the course, by visiting the professor or GTA during office hours once before the end of October.

Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework

Modules will be available on Monday afternoons typically. Everyone should complete the Modules for each week by 5:00 pm on Sunday. Missing the target can mean a delay in grading and feedback and will prevent submitted questions from being addressed for the discussion boards and the modules on time, if at all. For full credit, module assignments must be completed by the deadline for the next test / end of class modules (Sept 27, Oct 25, and Dec 6).

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, anyone who is unable to complete the modules and test by the test / end of classes deadlines (Sept 27, Oct 25, and Dec 6) should contact the professor / GTA as soon as possible. We will be as flexible as possible to assist each student to complete the semester in a manner that is as fair as possible to the student and to the others in the course. Anyone who is unable to complete missed coursework by the December 11 deadline for the final project should make arrangements with the professor for an Incomplete, including plans for how they will complete the required work.

Attendance Policy

No penalty for non-attendance will be assessed, but the assignments within each module contribute to student learning and the final grade. Please see the statement on missed / late coursework.

Notification of Changes

The instructor will make every effort to follow the guidelines of this syllabus as listed; however, the instructor reserves the right to amend this document as the need arises. In such instances, the instructor will notify students in class and/or via email and will endeavor to provide reasonable time for students to adjust to any changes.

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 University of Alabama is committed to an ethical, inclusive community defined by respect and civility.  The UAct website (www.ua.edu/uact)  provides extensive information on how to report or obtain assistance with a variety of issues, including issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, sexual violence or other Title IX violations, illegal discrimination, harassment, hate or bias incidents, child abuse or neglect, hazing, threat assessment, retaliation, and ethical violations or fraud.

Statement on COVID-19

All University faculty, staff, and students are expected to maintain a commitment to the health and safety of our campus community. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, specific health and safety standards are in place to minimize exposure and community spread on campus. In the interest of your health and safety and that of all UA students, faculty and staff, the University reserves the right to change the mode of instruction or schedule of instruction at any time, based upon prevailing public health and other guidance. While the method of delivery may change, educational instruction and opportunities will continue. As such, the University will not provide a refund of tuition, in whole or in-part, based on any such changes. Detailed information on changes in format or schedule can be found at studentaccounts.ua.edu and financialaid.ua.edu.

All students must be familiar with and abide by the requirements outlined in the UA Return Plan | UA System Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan. Students must (1) wear a mask or face covering at all times while participating in face-to-face class; (2) adhere to social distancing standards; and (3) comply with all other health and safety restrictions. If a student refuses to comply with the requirements, the student will be asked to leave the class and reported for a conduct violation. Unless a student has an exemption from the requirement to wear a face covering, (more information can be found at ods.ua.edu/covid-19-disability/), the student will be reported to Student Life for further disciplinary action. More information on these requirements and UA Healthcheck system and screening can be found at healthinfo.ua.edu/returnplan. You are expected to visit the site and comply with all noted requirements related to in-person class attendance.