Introduction to World Religions (Online)


What do we mean by 'world religions' and why might this phrase be controversial? How should we approach the study of the spiritual paths, key beliefs and practices of the main religious traditions? This course will give you the tools to study world religions in a balanced and sensitive way.

Listen to Dr Jim Robinson talking about the course:

Introduction to World Religions provides an overview of the key religions of the world and the way they have come to be studied and understood today. The course is designed to give you the tools to embark on a study of world religions through contemporary cases studies. It challenges you to look at both the 'insider'and 'outsider'perspectives and why even the title 'world religions'might be controversial. It looks at the way religions adapt and change from their historical roots into the dynamic and fascinating forms we see today and how they interact with each other and the modern, secular world. It takes into account the views of leading academics and practitioners in the field who themselves had attempted to provide an overview that helps to make sense of diverse sets of beliefs and practices moulding the lives of millions of people in the world.

For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.

Programme details

The areas you will cover in this course are:

  1. What is a world religion?
  2. Contemporary approaches to the study of religion
  3. The Abrahamic traditions
  4. The Asian traditions
  5. Precept and practice
  6. Spiritual paths
  7. Key figures and organisations
  8. How religions adapt and change
  9. Conflict and cooperation between religions
  10. World religions in a secular world

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.

For more information on CATS point please click on the link below:

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.


Description Costs
EU Fee £280.00
Non-EU Fee £300.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00

Course aims

This course aims to help to develop a clearer framework for understanding different approaches to the study of religion and to consider in particular what the term 'world religion' might mean. It does not assume prior knowledge of religion, the study of religion or world religions. It will allow examination of 'what' each religion teaches as well as 'how' each religion developed historically and functions in the world today. It does not aim to provide an in-depth study of each religion, but rather to help to make the first steps in such a study. Nor does it aim to make judgements about the validity or otherwise of truth statements made by religions, but rather to allow the religions to speak for themselves and approach their study with an open mind and an awareness that no perspective will be unbiased. In particular it will examine how religions can be studied from within (the insider perspective) as well from outside it (the outsider perspective) and how the interplay between these two is often what is involved in the study of religion.

Teaching methods

There will be guided reading of texts and students will be directed to various online resources, including some interactive ones.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be expected to understand:

  • What is meant by Abrahamic and Asian religious traditions
  • The beliefs and practices of key world religions
  • How religions have adapted and changed in the modern world
  • Different approaches to the study of religion e.g. the insider-outsider approach

By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:

  • Be able to apply understanding of different approaches to at least one Case Study of a world religion
  • Use key terms (e.g. diaspora, hierophany) connected with religions in their context
  • Be able to critically engage with issues surrounding the study of religions

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.