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)

Signing up for a seminar is optional. However, if you sign up for a seminar, you are expected 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 seminar teacher regarding the topics from the curriculum and preparations for your exam.

Information about application for changing seminar group.


  • 6 hours written school exam

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.

Resitting an exam

As of autumn 2018, the examination model for this course has changed. Students who wish to resit the exam, must complete the current examination model.

Digital examination

The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera.

Read more about written examinations using Inspera.

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

Teaching language