RESA3101 – Religion and Politics in Global Perspective

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Course content

Religion and politics are often thought of as two fields of human activity, which are best kept separate in modern, liberal societies. Yet at the same time – for better or worse, to a greater or lesser extent – religion and politics interact extensively in the modern world. This course aims to explore those interactions.

We will begin on a conceptual level: What is politics? What is the function of politics? What types of political systems exist?

After addressing these questions, we will explore why and how religion is becoming increasingly relevant for politics and how religions can contribute to public debates. Religious interest groups and institutions may support specific policies, voice their positions in public debates, and seek to influence political decision-making processes.

At the same time, we will see that national politics can have a significant impact on the religious landscape of their country. We will study the “politics of religion” by addressing different cases and comparing the effect of different state-religion relationships.

Importantly, religions also offer spiritual and ritual resources to cope with political crises, as we will see for the case of the 22nd July 2011 terrorist attacks on Norway. Moreover, many political subjects are interrelated with religion, as the relationship between religion and migration in Norway will show.

Learning outcome


• Conceptual understanding of politics and its function as well as of different political systems.

• Critical assessment of the rising relevance of religion in politics and its potential contribution to public debates and political decision-making.

• An overview of state-religion relationship and the ways in which politics influence religions and seek to manage religious diversity.


• Ability to think and discuss in a nuanced way changes and contestations in and between religious and political traditions, to understand where these processes come from and to discuss where they may be headed.

• Ability to examine and assess policies on religion in different parts of the world, and to discuss their influence on religious practice.

General Competence

• Ability to read, systematize and critically reflect academic contributions from a variety of different disciplines.

• Ability to formulate independent research questions on the interrelationship between politics and religion.


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.


The classes are seminars and active participation is expected. The seminar consists of a total of twenty-six hours. During the seminars, there will be given short lectures to introduce new themes/subthemes and short student presentations of relevant texts. Priority is given to discussion, application and reflection exercises in relation to primary themes.

The language of this course is English.

Mandatory activities

 • For selected seminar meetings (approx. 6 meetings), students prepare a brief reflection note (approx. 200 words) engaging with the primary theme and reading for the seminar and identifying relevance of the topic for current public issues.

 • A co-written research summary (1500-2500 words) prepared and discussed throughout the semester and the presentation of the paper at the end of the semester.

 • A peer-review of another group's research summary (400-600 words).

All the aforementioned items of the examination must be provided in English language.



The portfolio should contain the following:

  • 3 reflection notes, 600-800 words (20%)
  • Co-written research summary, 1500-2500 words (50%)
  • Peer-review, 400-600 words (30%)

In total: 2500-3900 words.

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, and you submit your response in 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

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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.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language