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Unit information: Religion and Politics in the West in 2021/22

Unit name Religion and Politics in the West
Unit code SOCI30074
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Sealy
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


What is and ought to be the relationship between religion and politics? In the late twentieth century most political theorists and most West European and North American publics thought these were uncontentious subjects. Yet these topics have emerged as important across the social sciences with some challenging ‘secularism’ as discriminatory and unjust to religious citizens. In Western Europe, Muslim political assertiveness, following a logic of minority rights seem to have unsettled status quo institutional arrangements and provoked counter-assertions on the part of those who want to ‘privatise’ religion, or alternatively to ‘nationalise’ it or ‘Europeanise’ it. This course will identify the various Church-State compromises or antagonisms to be found in the West and assess the claims that today we are witnessing a ‘crisis of secularism’ and are transitioning into a ‘post-secularism’.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon completing the unit, students will:

  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the arguments for and against varied forms of political secularisms and why political secularism is becoming contested in a number of countries
  2. Critically engage with and evaluate what secularism means in specific political terms in a number of policy areas in different countries
  3. Make detailed and appropriate use of these insights in developing an informed perspective on multiculturalism that contributes meaningfully to contemporary debates.

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Details

Over the course of the unit, students will:

prepare and deliver a group seminar presentation (formative assessment);

plan and draft a 3,000 word assessed essay (100% summative assessment)

Learning Outcomes 1, 2 and 3 will be assessed through both essays.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SOCI30074).