SOS2700 – Religious fundamentalism, extremism and violence

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

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

The course provides knowledge and insight into the sociological study of religion and religious extremism and religious violence. Which aspects of all world religions can be used to justify the use of violence? How do extreme groups recruit new participants? Are the participants ideologically convinced before they join or is ideological conviction a result of participation? What do we actually know about radicalization processes? How do sectarian conflicts erupt? What are the similarities and differences in stereotypical portrayals of religious minority groups, and how is race, culture and difference linked to islamophobia and antisemitism? And which role do women typically have in extremist religious groups? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in this course.

In order to understand religious fundamentalism, extremism 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:

  • Key sociological concepts and theories used in the study of religion and religious extremism

  • Analytical perspectives in explanations of fundamentalism, religious extremism and violence

  • Empirical knowledge of different extreme religious movements around the world


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 study of extreme religious movements
  • 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


  • Home exam (3 days)

Take home exam

Resitting an exam

As of autumn 2019, the examination model for this course has changed. Students who wish to resit the exam, must complete the current examination model.

Submit assignments in Inspera

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

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.

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

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

Teaching language