Religion Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Religion?

Religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. Religion is belief in a god or gods and the activities that are connected with this belief, such as praying or worshipping in a building such as a church or a temple.

According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that are intended to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain the origin of life or the Universe. From their beliefs about the cosmos and human nature, people derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle.

Some people follow multiple religions or multiple religious principles at the same time, regardless of whether or not the religious principles they follow traditionally allow for syncretism.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Religion courses in the following subject areas:

  • Introducing Religions – This course introduces six major religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism; exploring beliefs, practices, concepts and principles and their influence on world affairs.
  • Religion Today: Tradition, Modernity and Change – The study of religious beliefs, ideas and practices around the world.
  • MA In Theology and World Religions – An introduction to comparative and constructive dialogue on the world’s major religious traditions with a foundational basis in the Christian traditions, exploring key historical, thematic, and textual aspects of both the Catholic and Protestant traditions.
  • Religion in History: Conflict, Conversion and Coexistence – Gain a better understanding of the contemporary problems religion is facing through a historical perspective.

Studying Religion in college

There are many Religion courses that take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification. You could also consider work experience or volunteering to help within religious communities in charity and volunteer organisations.

If you are thinking about work in religious ministry, talk to local spiritual leaders and get involved in the life of your religious community to find out more about what’s involved. If you want to get into teaching, you will need to have experience working with children of the age you want to teach. This will show you have the skills and motivation required.

Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Religion you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of religion, be it a specific religion or a number of major religions. Religious studies will give you a thorough understanding of the major world religions, their historical development and their relationship with the world we live in. You’ll gain insight into the theological, ethical, cultural, political and philosophical issues of religion.

Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies. The normal working day will be office hours from 9am until 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. However, religious leaders will usually have to work beyond this regime including evenings and weekends depending on the holy day of the faith.

You’ll need to gain relevant experience before entering a religious position, as the role is not usually open to those who have just obtained a degree, even in a relevant discipline such as theology.

Roles can be demanding and challenging, particularly if you’re dealing with recently bereaved families or individuals suffering anxiety and depression. Your working day and volume of enquiries will vary according to the sector in which you work. This will depend upon the structure of the hosting organisation, whether you’re the sole leader or part of a multi-faith team.

Religious leaders work in a range of settings such as hospitals, health and social care establishments, residential care and hospices, universities, schools and colleges, prisons, sports organisations, industry, community-based work and the Armed Forces.

Related jobs include:

  • Religious leader
  • Higher education lecturer
  • Primary school teacher
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Advice worker
  • Archivist
  • Charity fundraiser
  • Counsellor
  • Civil Service administrator
  • Community development worker
  • International aid/development worker
  • Mediator
  • Newspaper journalist
  • Police officer
  • Youth worker

Further study

After completing a course in Religion you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practise in certain career areas such as sociology, social sciences and social policy, including areas such as criminology, social work, psychology, health and well-being, counselling, philosophy, pastoral care and world religions.


Why is Religion important?

Religion plays a crucial role in giving a cultural identity. Each religion has festivals, traditions, mythologies that form a part of the heritage of a country and also adds to the diversity of a country.

Religion helps in creating an ethical framework and also a regulator for values in day to day life. Religion helps in building values like love, empathy, respect, and harmony.

What are the different types of religion?

Polytheism – the belief in or worship of more than one god.

Monotheism – the doctrine or belief that there is only one God.

Atheism – disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

Animism – Worship of nonhuman beings (animals, plants, natural world)

Totemism – system of belief in which humans are said to have kinship or a mystical relationship with a spirit-being, such as an animal or plant.

Where can I study Religion?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • Christianity is the largest religion in the world, with 2.4 billion followers in 2019.
  • While Wicca might seem like an ancient religion — and has roots in European fertility cults – it actually wasn’t introduced until the 1950’s.
  • One of the lesser-known religion facts is that Hinduism is not actually a single religion. It is a collection of beliefs and philosophies sharing a common set of gods and concepts.
  • The Ancient Egyptians believed that the gods judged their souls after death.
  • In Buddhism, Nirvana isn’t a place reached through death but is instead a state achieved through enlightenment, which can sometimes take multiple reincarnations.
  • Converting to Islam requires three main things: a formal statement of faith (shahadah) in front of one to three witnesses; proclaiming there is only one God, that Muhammad is God’s prophet; and converting freely, not by force.

Mariza Halliday

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