REL 101 Introduction to Religion

REL 101 IS Sec 5, 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 6 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 and 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:

Learning Outcomes (broadly defined by the University of Mississippi and the College of Liberal Arts):

  1. Mathematical reasoning: n/a in this course.
  2. Written and oral communication: As this is an on-line class, communication will occur primarily in written format. All written materials – including discussion boards, projects posts, and essays – should be in good grammatical form, avoid colloquialisms, and engage course material as well as classmates in appropriate tone.
  3. Analytical/critical reading:  This course promotes critical reading of primary religious texts (scripture and interpretation) to understand how religious practitioners 'live' their traditions, both historically and today.
  4. Ethical reasoning: Students will understand and critique religious ethical concerns in theology and 'lived' social context. These issues include caste segregation, racial violence, gender division, and questions of power/authority.

Course Objectives (specifically for this course and more precisely defined in our weekly folders). After completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. define the academic study of religion as separate from theology and apologetics;
  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 8 instructional lessons.

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.

Lesson Lesson Topics Due for Grades Suggested Pacing Guide
(if you want to complete the course in a traditional semester)
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 Week 1
0 Course Introduction/Resources Discussion board Week 1
1 Introduction to Religion Quiz,
Project #1
Week 1
2 Introduction to Religious Studies Practice Quiz Week 2
3 Hinduism Essay #1,
Quiz #1
Weeks 3-4
4 Buddhism Essay #2,
Project #2
Weeks 5-6
5 Chinese Religions Essay #3,
Quiz #2
Weeks 7-8
Proctored Mid Term Exam All assignments that come before the exam must be submitted. Proctored Midterm Exam to be completed before proceeding Week 8
MIDPOINT OF COURSE You are encouraged reach the midpoint of your course by the date specified in your information. All lesson assignments or exams needed to reach the midpoint of the course The exact date the semester students are encouraged to reach the midpoint is specified in their registration information.
6 Judaism Project #3, Essay #4 Weeks 9-10
7 Christianity Project #4, Essay #5, Quiz #3 Weeks 11-12
8 Islam & Final Project Submission Project #5
Final Project
Weeks 13-15
Final Exam Be sure all prior assignments have been submitted prior to submitting this Final Exam Final Exam
To be submitted
to finalize credit
Week 15


We use an A/B/C/D/F grading scheme (no +/- ). For minors in Religious Studies, you must have a C (or better) in REL courses to count toward the degree (no C-).

I try my very best to score all assignments within one week

376-418 pts = A
334-375 pts = B
293-333 pts = C
251-292 pts = D
250 pts and below = F

The grading format is as follows:
Projects: 50 pts
Quizzes: 91 pts
Exams: 100 pts
Essays: 100 pts
Final Project: 50 pts
Panopto Slideshow Quizzes: 27 pts
Total: 418 pts


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.