REL 101 Introduction to Religion

REL 101 IS Sec 3, University of Mississippi
[See UM Catalog for Description]

3 credit hours

Instructor Information:

Dr. Mary Thurlkill

Instructor name:
Dr. Mary Thurlkill
Bryant Hall 21

My name is Dr. Mary Thurlkill, 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.

Contact Information:

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
Division 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

Course Description

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.

Textbook Information:

Textbook information will be provided upon enrollment in your iStudy course.

Course Objectives:

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.

Course Outline:

This course consists of 11 instructional modules (or lessons) and 3 proctored exams.

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.



Reading Assignments

Due for Grades

Pacing guide to complete the course in a traditional semester



*You MUST complete the syllabus quiz as soon as you have access to your Blackboard course. This is mandatory to verify your attendance.* NOTE: you must pass the Syllabus and Orientation Quiz for the course materials to appear on the Lessons page.

Syllabus Quiz

Week 1

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

Week 1


Hinduism -- History, the first "Path of Knowledge," and the Vedas
Chapter 4, Hinduism, online materials


Week 2


Hinduism -- the second "Path of Action/Dharma" and the Bhagavad Gita
Chapter 4, Hinduism, online materials

“Religion in the News” essay

Week 3


Hinduism -- and the third "Path of Love/Bhakti"
Chapter 4, Hinduism, online materials

Quiz #1

Week 4

Course Exam 1

Proctored and password-protected exam covering Unit 1

To be scheduled
and completed
before proceeding

Week 5


Unit 2: Buddhism and Chinese Religion


Life of the Buddha
Chapter 6, Buddhism, online materials


Week 6


Historical Divisions: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhisms
Chapter 6, Buddhism, online materials

Quiz #2

Week 7


Chinese Religions: Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism
Chapter 8, online materials

Quiz #3
Asian Religions and American Consumerism Assignment

Week 8



If you are a semester student, you must reach the midpoint of your course by the date specified in your information.
If you are a Flex UM student, you CANNOT WITHDRAW from this course after the lesson has been submitted.

All lesson assignments or exams needed to reach the midpoint of the course
The exact date semester students are required to reach the midpoint is specified in your information.

Course Exam 2

Proctored and password-protected exam covering Unit 2

To be scheduled
and completed
before proceeding

Week 9

Unit 3: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam


Jewish History
Chapter 10, Judaism, online materials


Week 10


Judaism:  Tradition and Ritual
Chapter 10, Judaism, online materials

Jewish Holiday Assignment, Quiz #4

Week 11


Christianity:  History, Tradition, and Ritual
Chapter 11, Christianity, online materials

Quiz #5, Christianity Collage Assignment

Week 12


Islam: History (Muhammad, Qur'an and Hadith)
Chapter 12, Islam, online materials

Quiz #6, Tweeting Islam Assignment

Week 13

Course Exam 3

Proctored and password-protected exam covering Unit 3
All course work needs to be submitted and graded to take this exam.

To be scheduled
and completed
to finalize credit

Week 14


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


You must submit the lessons required to take the course exam(s). Lessons required but not submitted will receive a grade of zero. For the final exam, all coursework must be submitted and graded.