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iStudy Course Syllabus

REL 101 IS, Introduction to Religion, v2
University of Mississippi

3 credit hours


Mary Thurlkill

Instructor name:

Dr. Mary Thurlkill
Bryant Hall 21,, 662.915.1400

Instructor Information:

My name is Dr. Mary Thurlkill, Associate Professor of Religion, specializing in medieval Christianity and Islam. I am thrilled that you have chosen to take REL 101, which provides a basic introduction to many of the world's major religious traditions. With a Sikh Temple in Tupelo; a variety of Orthodox Christian churches in Memphis; and several Hindu temples throughout Mississippi, religious diversity clearly plays an important part of our contemporary world. In this class, we will strive both to understand and appreciate a variety of religious identities.

Although on-line instruction is not my preferred manner of teaching, I understand it has an important part in our busy lives today. Please note: this medium is difficult for me because I cannot see your faces--looks of terror, confusion, or delight! So, if you have questions concerning the content of the course-- or, you want to discuss an exciting topic in more detail-- please do contact me directly at

IMPORTANT: whenever sending email, please be sure to indicate your course title and section number in the subject line (ie, REL 101, iStudy). You may also reach me by phone (662.915.1400) but I tend to check my phone messages less regularly than my e-mail! And, my "live" office hours are MWF 1-2, in Bryant Hall 21, on the Oxford campus. I try my very best to respond to all e-mails quickly.


If you have questions concerning the content of the course, you may contact the instructor directly using the Email Your Instructor link in the Lessons or Content page. NOTE: Whenever sending email, please be sure to indicate your course title and number in the subject line. You can expect a response within 72 hours, although it may be longer on weekends. Many instructors reply within 24 hours.

For lesson or test administration issues, please contact the iStudy department:

The University of Mississippi, Department of Outreach and Continuing Education
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677

Phone: (662) 915-7313, toll-free (877) 915-7313
Fax: (662) 915-8826


This course provides an introduction to Religious Studies as a discipline and a survey of some of the world's religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese Religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.


Required Textbook:

Hopfe and Woodward, Religions of the World, 13th edition

You must purchase the loose-leaf REVEL version that comes with an on-line access code. Even though you have the loose-leaf textbook, you WILL need to actively engage the on-line version of REVEL (available with the access code). It offers three benefits:

  1. There are audio clips that accompany each section so you can listen as the author reads the material. This might be especially helpful for more "auditory" learners.
  2. You can take notes on-line, with your electronic text; or, you can write notes with the loose-leaf text. Personally, I find that WRITING helps me remember/learn more effectively; however, I know other people benefit from highlighting/typing notes in an electronic format.
  3. There are self-check quizzes that accompany each section/chapter. You can check your comprehension with these short quizzes that do not count towards your grade. Many of the exam multiple-choice questions will come from these self-check quizzes.

It is the student's responsibility to order his/her REVEL text.

It is your responsibility to order your textbook. Online textbook retailers such as,, or usually provide used textbooks at economical prices.

Use the ISBN number to make sure you are ordering the exact book required in this syllabus.


Objectives include (but are not limited to):

  1. Provide an academic definition of religion.
  2. Display a basic literacy in the world's religions covered in class. Basic literacy includes explanation of basic beliefs, rituals, scripture, and major figures.
  3. Provide a survey of each religion's historical development and inherent diversity.
  4. Provide examples of each religion's cultural production, including art, music, film, and/or architecture.


This course consists of 11 instructional modules (or lessons).

Reading Assignments
Due for Grades

You MUST take the syllabus quiz within 2 weeks of enrolling or you will be dropped from the course. NOTE: you must pass the Syllabus and Orientation Quiz for the course materials to appear on the Lessons page.

Syllabus Quiz

Unit 1: What is Religion? Hinduism


What is Religion?

Hopfe and Woodward, Introduction pp. 2-8, online materials

Introduction post, "The Church of Body Modification" essay

Hinduism -- History, the first "Path of Knowledge," and the Vedas

Chapter 4, Hinduism, online materials


Hinduism -- the second "Path of Action/Dharma" and the Bhagavad Gita

Chapter 4, Hinduism, online materials

ìReligion in the Newsî essay

Hinduism -- and the third "Path of Love/Bhakti"

Chapter 4, Hinduism, online materials

REVEL Quiz #1
Course Exam 1

Proctored and password-protected exam covering Unit 1

To be scheduled
and completed
before proceeding

Unit 2: Buddhism and Chinese Religion


Life of the Buddha

Chapter 6, Buddhism, online materials


Historical Divisions: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhisms

Chapter 6, Buddhism, online materials

REVEL Quiz #2

Chinese Religions: Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism

Chapter 8, online materials

REVEL Quiz #3

Asian Religions and American Consumerism Assignment

Course Exam 2

Proctored and password-protected exam covering Unit 2

To be scheduled
and completed
before proceeding
Unit 3: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Jewish History

Chapter 10, Judaism, online materials


Judaism: Tradition and Ritual

Chapter 10, Judaism, online materials

Jewish Holiday Assignment, REVEL Quiz #4

Christianity: History, Tradition, and Ritual

Chapter 11, Christianity, online materials

REVEL Quiz #5, Christianity Collage Assignment

Islam: History (Muhammad, Qur'an and Hadith)

Chapter 12, Islam, online materials

REVEL Quiz #6, Tweeting Islam Assignment
Course Exam 3

Proctored and password-protected exam covering Unit 3

To be scheduled
and completed
before proceeding



446-495 pts = A
396-445 pts = B
347-395 pts = C
297-346 pts = D
296 pts and below = F


The grading format is as follows:

Lesson assignments/essays 50 pts
Quizzes 120 pts
Exams 300 pts
"Religion in the News" 25 pts
495 pts total



A student who wishes to receive credit for an Independent Study course must take all required exams under the supervision of an approved test site official (a proctor). iStudy has a testing facility (DETL, the Distance Education Testing Center at UM) to proctor tests for students in the Oxford area. Students near Tupelo, Southaven, Grenada or Booneville can use our regional campus testing centers. Other students are allowed to take tests from any approved 2 or 4 year college or university. Testing centers and public libraries can also serve as proctors, but K-12 schools are not acceptable. More information is available on the iStudy website. If you are testing in Oxford, you need to submit a test application via Register Blast. The link to Register Blast can be found at the iStudy website. If you are not testing in Oxford, you need to submit an online test application via the iStudy website.



In an Independent Study course, a student's reading comprehension and written communication skills become even more important than in traditional lecture courses because they are the student's primary means of receiving knowledge and demonstrating mastery of that knowledge. Accordingly, reading comprehension and written communication skills are necessary for success in this course.

1. Exams (100 pts. each; 300 pts. total): These exams cover material from videos, powerpoint presentations and assigned readings. They consist of 40 multiple-choice questions (2 pts. each) and 4 short-answer (5 pts. each). These are proctored exams. The final exam covers material from Unit 3 (the monotheisms) only; i.e., it is not comprehensive.

2. Quizzes (20 pts. each; 120 pts. total): There are 6 assigned quizzes (no proctor required), available through REVEL. These quizzes ensure you understand the material in the text chapters.

3. "Religion in the News" (25 pts. total): You are required to do 1 paper relating to a recent news item.

4. Lesson assignments/essays (50 points): These assignments are described more fully in the course schedule; they include defining religion; a "selfie" project; creating a slide presentation; creating a photo collage; and, 'tweeting' about provided images.

Course Guidelines:

Writing: All writing associated with this course, especially that submitted for credit (e.g., exams, "Religion in the News") should aim to meet the standards of formal prose. Please strive to be professional.

Online Attendance Verification: The University requires that online students show active virtual participation as a substitute for physical presence. Active participation is evaluated by submission of a graded assignment within the first two weeks of the course. Simply logging in to Blackboard does not count. For iStudy, you can show engagement by taking the syllabus quiz. You will be dropped from the class if you fail to take the quiz by the end of the second week after enrollment. If you have already submitted any other assignment, you do not need to take the quiz.

Videos: Most of the lessons contain at least one video, so you'll need speakers or headphones and the download capacity to watch short videos.


The University of Mississippi is committed to the creation of inclusive learning environments for all students. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your full inclusion and participation or to accurate assessment of your achievement, please contact the course instructor as soon as possible. Barriers may include, but are not necessarily limited to, timed exams and in-class assignments, difficulty with the acquisition of lecture content, inaccessible web content or the use of non-captioned or non-transcribed video and audio files. Students must also contact Student Disability Services at 662 - 915 - 7128 so that office can:

  1. provide you with an Instructor Notification form
  2. facilitate the removal of barriers
  3. ensure you have equal access to the same opportunities for success that are available to all students

For more information, please visit their website at


You should not share your private personal passwords (for your Blackboard account or for your email) with anyone else, including brothers or sisters, boyfriends or girlfriends, or parents. Logs of all your activity within the Blackboard course environment, including the Internet location from which you are accessing Blackboard, are available to the instructor and to the Independent Study office. Any evidence of logins to a student's Blackboard course by someone other than the student will be treated as an act of academic dishonesty and will result, at minimum, with failure in the course; the student may also be subject to the more severe disciplinary actions outlined in The University Policy on Academic Dishonesty. (ACA.AR.600.001)

Academic Dishonesty is expressly prohibited by The University of Mississippi. See The University of Mississippi's M Book. This includes plagiarism and self-plagiarism. Plagiarism is not only prohibited by the university but it could also be a legal offense (ex: copyright, infringement, fraud, etc.).

To be absolutely clear, working with another person to answer submitted questions or any of the test questions is unacceptable. If it is determined that any student has violated this policy, the instructor will take the appropriate steps under The University of Mississippi's Academic Dishonesty policy. These range from failing the course to being suspended from The University of Mississippi.

If you have any questions about plagiarism please consult the web links below or contact the iStudy office.


Set aside a regular time for studying and preparing your lessons.

You can contact your instructor in one of these ways:

  1. Contact your instructor directly by using the Email Your Instructor link to send an email via Blackboard.
  2. Contact your instructor indirectly by sending a written message or email message ( to the instructor in care of the iStudy department. Your message will be promptly forwarded to the instructor.

Do not let unanswered questions keep you from getting the maximum out of each lesson.

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