SOS2700 - Religion in contemporary societies, fundamentalism, radicalization and religious violence

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Course content

This course provides a theoretical and empirical introduction to religion as a sociological phenomenon, religion in contemporary society, fundamentalism, religious radicalization, and violence. We will discuss theoretical perspectives which will be combined with current debates and research on religion.

The course provides knowledge and insight into different concepts of religion and debates on religious change in contemporary society. Are Western societies post-secular? Or are they increasingly secular? We will discuss these topics by relating sociological theories to empirical studies of the role of religion in Norwegian and Nordic public spheres.

Another aspect of religious change in modern times is religious radicalization and religious violence. Which aspects of all world religions can be used to legitimize violence? In order to understand fundamentalism, religious radicalization and violence, we will discuss different perspectives that have been used in empirical studies: social psychology, cultural analysis, and social movements.

This course will provide useful knowledge and skills for people who work in education, research, the media, public administration, the health and social services, business, politics, and international affairs.

Learning outcome


The course will provide:

  • An overview of major trends in religious change in contemporary societies
  • Key sociological concepts and theories used in the study of religion
  • Analytical perspectives in explanations of fundamentalism, religious radicalization and violence


You will develop the skills to:

  • Use relevant concepts, theories and empirical knowledge in analyses of religion
  • Provide a critical analysis of different theories in the sociology of religion
  • Provide a critical analysis of the empirical studies included in the syllabus
  • Discuss and write such analyses, following the basic rules of social scientific inquiry

General competence

  • Think analytically about religious phenomena
  • The ability to distinguish between academic knowledge based on empirical studies versus personal perceptions
  • Respect for ethical considerations involved in scientific work in general and sociological studies of religion in particular


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


  • Lectures
  • Seminars (smaller groups)

The seminars are optional, and you choose if you would like to participate or not. However, if you sign up to a seminar, we expect you to participate. If you do not want to sign up for a seminar, please choose "Seminar 99 - wish not to participate in seminar".

We recommend students to participate in the seminar. You will get guidance from your professor regarding the individual assignment and discuss topics from the assignments in relation to the curriculum.

Information about application for changing seminar group.


  • Individual, written assignment
  • 4 hours written school exam

The assignment and exam will be evaluated concurrently by one assessment committee and only one grade will be assigned based on this comprehensive evaluation. The written assignment and the exam normally account for approximately 40 and 60 percent of the final grade, respectively. However, the assessment committee may give more weight to the written assignment in circumstances in which the result is between two grades.

In order to pass the course, a passing grade must be achieved on both the written assignment and the exam in the same semester.

School exam

The written school exam consists of two parts. Part one account for one-third of the grade and part two for two-thirds of the grade, respectively. In order to receive a passing grade on the exam, candidates must complete and pass both parts.

Individual, written assignment

Resitting an exam

As of spring semester 2017, the examination model for this course was changed. Students who wish to resit the exam, must complete both the individual, written assignment and school exam anew.

Written examination

The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. Read more about written examinations using Inspera.

You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera. Read more about training in Inspera.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read more about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Examination support material

Students may use dictionaries at this exam. Dictionaries must be handed in before the examination. Please read regulations for dictionaries permitted at the examination.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

It is recommended to request an explanation of your grade before you decide to appeal.



The deadline to request an explanation is one week after the grade is published. For oral and practical examinations, the deadline is immediately after you have received your grade.

The explanation should normally be given within two weeks after you have asked for it. The examiner decides whether the explanation is to be given in writing or verbally.

Ask for explanation of your grade in this course:

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

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