REL 101 Introduction to Religion

REL 101 IS Sec 4, 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.

Basically, I see my job as two-fold:

  1. Teach you the "subject matter" of major world religions:
  2. Teach you a set of skills that will empower you throughout your life: these skills include how to read critically; how to write persuasively; and how to think empathetically. This last one means the ability to understand what another person/religious group believes and why they believe it.

Textbook Information:

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

Course Objectives:

(specifically for this course and more precisely defined in our lesson folders)

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Define the academic study of religion as separate from theology and apologetics, and identify some of the discipline's founders
  2. Explain the basic beliefs, rituals, and founding figures within Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese Religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam
  3. Describe each religion's historical development and analyze its inherent diversity
  4. Identify and critique each religion's cultural production. including art, music, film, and/or architecture

Course Outline:

This course consists of 14 instructional modules (or lessons). Please note that the suggested Pacing Guide to complete the course in a traditional semester is written for Fall and Spring. Full summer students need to make adjustments due to the significantly shorter time period involved.

Units Lesson Reading Assignments Due for Grades
  Start Here *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
  0 Introduction Discussion board
1 1 Chapter 1: Defining Religion and Religious Studies Essay and Journal
2 Chapter 4: Understand Hinduism: Teachings and History Begin working on journal
3 Chapter 4: Understand Hinduism: Ways of Life Journal
Unit 1 Exam Covers Lessons 1-3 To be scheduled
and completed
before proceeding
2 4 Chapter 5: Understanding Buddhism’s Teachings and History Begin working on journal
5 Chapter 5: Understanding Buddhism as a Way of Life Journal
6 Chapter 8: Understanding Chinese Religions' Teachings and History Project
7 Chapter 8: Understanding Chinese Religions as a Way of Life Journal
Unit 2 Exam Covers Lessons 4-7 To be scheduled
and completed
before proceeding
  MIDPOINT OF COURSE 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
3 8 Chapter 11: Understanding the Teachings and History of Judaism Begin working on journal
9 Chapter 11: Understanding Judaism as a Way of Life Journal and PowerPoint Project
10 Chapter 12: Understanding the Teachings and History of Christianity Begin working on journal
11 Chapter 12: Understanding Christianity as a Way of Life Journal and Project
12 Chapter 13: Understanding the Teachings and History of Islam Project
13 Chapter 13: Understanding Islam as a Way of Life Journal
Unit 3 Exam Covers Lessons 8-13 To be scheduled and completed before proceeding
4 14 New Religious Movements Project Project
  Final Project There is no comprehensive final exam for this class. Instead there's a final project. Project


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.