SSST Subjects

PS 250 Religion and Politics


Programme(s) where module is offered

  • BA in Political Science and International Relations

Status (core, option, free choice)



FHEQ Level



Unit Value



Semester taught



Pre-Requisite Modules or Qualifications



Module Code

PS 250


Module coordinator

Jana Jevtic


Applicable From



Educational Aims of the Module

  • The course illuminates the complex relationships between religion and international relations. With its focus on scholarly theories and their practical implications, the aim is to provide a fresh take on one of the central problems of our time – the role of religion in domestic, international, and transnational politics.
  • This role has been dramatically underscored by the events of September 11 and an array of terrorist attacks that have followed since, as well as their more immediate aftermath, including the eruption of two major wars – the War on Terrorism and the War in Iraq.
  • This course is designed for students interested in the basic patterns of international relations that can, and have been impacted by religion – who the actors are, what they want, what capacities they have to attract support, and what rules they follow.

Module Outline/Syllabus

  • Module Overview – Assignment of In-Class Student Presentations and Coursework

  • Survival or Revival of Religion in International Relations – Reflections on Secularism

  • Case Study: Western Europe and the Secularisation Theory

  • Transnational Religious Actors and International Politics

  • Case Study: The Roman Catholic Church and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference

  • Case Study: Sanctuary Movement in the United States and the Roots of Al-Qaeda in Egypt

  • Review Week

  • Mid-term Exam

  • Religion, Human Rights, and International Relations – Affirming Religious Beliefs and Human Rights in a Pluralistic World

  • Case Study: Faith-Based Approach to Diplomacy and International Peace-Making

  • Religion and Justification of War – Understanding the Religious Underpinnings of “Just War” Theory

  • War as a Sacred Duty – Religious Violence and Global Rebellion

  • Case Study: Religious Fundamentalism in Practice

  • Islam and International Relations – Islamic vs. Western Interpretations

  • Concluding Remarks – Revision

  • Study Week

  • Final Exam


Student Engagement Hours

Type Number per Term Duration Total Time
Lectures 64 90 minutes

96 hours

Tutorials 32 90 minutes

48 hours

Total Guided/Independent Learning Hours 120
Total Contact Hours 90
Total Engagement Hours 200

Assessment Method Summary

Type Number Required Duration / Length Weighting Timing / Submission Deadline

Final Exam


3 hours


End of semester

Mid-term exam 1 2 hours 20% Week 8

Paper Sketch / Paper




Week 6 / Week 15

In-class Presentation


20 mins




Module Outcomes

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand the role of religion as a source of violence and an instrument of peace;

  • Develop awareness of the relativity of religious values, beliefs, and attitudes;

  • Critically engage with the normative debates on the role of religion in conflict and reconciliation;

  • Apply their knowledge to empirical cases.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Course readings and class discussion (ILO: 1-4)

  • Lectures (ILO: 1-4)

  • Individual tutorials (ILO: 1-4).

Assessment Strategy:

  • Course Work: mid-term exam (20%), paper (20%) and presentation (10%). (ILO: 1-4)

  • Final Exam: 50% (ILO: 1-4)

Practical Skills:

  • Religion based negotiation techniques;

  • Developing strategies for nonviolent solutions;

  • Independent fieldwork;

  • Reflexive writing.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Practical with tutor-lead support (PS: 1-4)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Paper Sketch / Paper: 20% (PS 1-4)

Transferable Skills:

  • Ability to explore a variety of sources for research materials;

  • Public presentation skills;

  • Ability to engage in argument-based discussions;

  • Write concisely and with clarity.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Course readings and class discussions. (TS: 1-4)

  • Lectures and in-class exercises (TS: 1, 3)

  • In-class presentation, public speaking exercises (TS: 1-3)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Final Exam: 50% (TS: 1-4)

  • Course Work: mid-term exam (20%), paper (20%) and presentation (10%) (TS: 1-4)


Key Texts and/or other learning materials

Set text

  • Jack Snyder (2011), Religion and International Relations Theory, New York: Columbia University Press

Supplementary Materials

  • Rodney Star, “Secularization, R.I.P.,” Sociology of Religion, Autumn 1999

  • Elizabeth Hurd, “The Political Authority of Secularism in International Relations,” European Journal of International Relations Copyright, Summer 2004

  • Talal Asad (2003), “Muslims as a ‘Religious Minority’ in Europe,” in Formations of the Secular, Stanford: Stanford University Press

  • Richard Falk (2001), “Religious Foundations of Humane Global Governance,” in Religion and Humane Global Governance, London: Palgrave Macmillan

    Charles Taylor, “Religious Mobilizations,” Public Culture, Winter 2006


  • Jeff Haynes, “Transnational Religious Actors and International Politics,” Third World Quarterly, Summer 2001

  • Hilary Cunningham, “Ethnography of Transnational Social Activism: Understanding the Global as Local Practice,” American Ethnologist, Summer 1999
  • Toth, James (2004), "Local Islam Gone Global: The Roots of Religious Militancy in Egypt and Its Transnational Transformation." in J. Nash (ed.), Global Social Movements: An Anthropological Reader. Malden: Blackwell
  • R. Scott Appleby (2003) “Serving Two Masters? Affirming Religious Belief and Human Rights in a Pluralistic World,” in J. D. Carlson and E. C. Owens, (eds.), The Sacred and the Sovereign: Religion and International Politics. Washington: Georgetown University Press
  • Douglas Johnston, “Faith-based Diplomacy: Bridging the Religious Divide,” presentation given at Brigham Young University Seminar, 17 November 2011
  • J. Bryan Hehir (2007), The Just War Ethic, Centre for American Progress,
  • Mark Juergensmeyer (2008), “Religious Rebellion and Global War,” in Global Rebellion: Religious Challenges to the Secular State, from Christian militias to Al Qaeda, Berkley: California University Press
  • Michael O. Emerson1 and David Hartman, “The Rise of Religious Fundamentalism,” Annual Review of Sociology, April 2006
  • R. Scott Appleby (1999), “Violence as a Sacred Duty: Patterns of Religious Extremism,” in The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield
  • Moaddel, Mansoor and Kamran Talattof, (eds.) (2002), Modernist and Fundamentalist Debates in in Islam: A Reader, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, selection
  • Norman Podhoretz, “World War IV: How it Started, What it Means, and Why We have to win it,’ Commentary, Autumn 2004

Please note

This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the module and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if he/she takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided.

More detailed information on the learning outcomes, content and teaching, learning and assessment methods of each module and programme can be found in the departmental or programme handbook.

The accuracy of the information contained in this document is reviewed annually by the University of Buckingham and may be checked by the Quality Assurance Agency.

Date of Production : June 2016

Date approved by School Learning and Teaching Committee:  

Date approved by School Board of Study :  

Date approved by University Learning and Teaching Committee:  

Date of Annual Review:  


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