Department of Religious Studies
Graduate Programs in Religious Studies
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400126
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4126
The department offers graduate programs leading to the M.A.
and Ph.D. degrees. The M.A. program allows students to prepare for more advanced
work, pursue a personal interest, explore vocational options, or gain certification
for secondary school instruction in religious studies. The Ph.D. program trains
teachers and research scholars for the academic study of religion in universities,
liberal arts colleges, and community colleges.
Master of Arts The M.A. in Religious Studies, which
may be elected either as preparation for more advanced study or as a terminal
- either: the successful completion of 24 credits of course work, of
which at least 9 credits are taken in a single religious tradition or cultural
area and at least 6 are taken in courses with a strong emphasis on method;
the preparation and successful defense of a thesis that exhibits competence
in the area of specialization, skill in a given method of study, and an
ability to employ resources in the relevant foreign language(s);
- or: the successful completion of 30 credits of course work, of which at
least 12 credits are taken in a single religious tradition or cultural area
and at least 6 are taken in courses with a strong emphasis on method; and
satisfactory performance in a comprehensive examination based on a reading
list approved by the relevant field committee. The choice between these
options is determined in consultation with faculty advisors, and with a
view to the students objective in graduate study. (When M.A./Ph.D.
program students successfully complete their comprehensive doctoral examinations,
they have also completed the masters examination requirement and may
elect to receive the M.A. degree);
- and: a reading knowledge of either French of German demonstrated by examination
(though another language may be substituted under appropriate circumstances
and with the approval of the Committee on Graduate Studies.) Within these
general requirements, the M.A. Program remains flexible and can be closely
tailored to the interests of the individual student. Normally the M.A. program
can be completed in three semesters, but very rarely in fewer.
Doctor of Philosophy The following requirements pertain
generally to all Ph.D. programs in the department: students admitted to the
M.A./Ph.D. (i.e., students without prior graduate work in religious studies
or related fields) must complete a minimum of 54 credits in courses at the 500
level and above, plus 18 credits in other courses (may be non-topical research)
for a total of 72 credits.
Students admitted directly to the Ph.D. program (i.e., who
already hold a graduate degree in religious studies, such as the M.A., M.Div.,
or some equivalent) may petition the Graduate Committee for advanced standing
at the end of their first year of residence and be allowed to waive up to 24
credits of the course work requirement. These students need 30 credits of course
work plus 18 other credits (e.g., non-topical research) for a total of 48 credits.
All doctoral students must spend at least one academic session in full-time
Students must demonstrate, by examination, a reading knowledge
of both French and German, although other languages may also be required. Another
language may be substituted if it is appropriate to the field of specialization.
Language competencies must be certified before a student may proceed to comprehensive
Students must successfully complete a series of comprehensive
examinations in the field of specialization. Within six months of the completion
of these examinations, students must submit and defend, before the relevant
faculty committee, a dissertation proposal.
When the dissertation proposal is approved, students proceed
to the writing of a dissertation that demonstrates a high level of research
skills, sophistication of method, originality of insight, and specialized knowledge.
Dissertations must be defended in oral examination before the faculty.
The time required for successful completion of doctoral studies
varies. Those programs that require substantial language training and/or periods
of fieldwork inevitably take longer to complete. Students should anticipate
a period of three to six years of study.
Areas of Specialization The Department offers six major
areas of specialization in doctoral studies. They are Historical Studies; Theology,
Ethics, and Culture; History of Religions; Islamic Studies; Bioethics; and Scripture,
Interpretation and Practice
Note: Twelve credits in religious studies or instructor permission
is prerequisite for the following courses.
RELB 500, 501 - (4) (IR)
Literary and Spoken Tibetan I, II
Introduces the philosophical and spiritual texts of Tibet.
Includes grammar, basic religious terminology and structure.
RELB 502 - (3) (O)
Tibetan Perspectives on Tantra
Studies Tibetan presentations of the distinctive features of
RELB 525 - (3) (O)
Seminar in Japanese Buddhism
Prerequisite: RELG 213 or RELB 316 or instructor permission.
selected topics in the major schools of Japanese Buddhism: Tendai, Shingon, Pure
Land, Nichiren and Zen.
RELB 526 - (3) (IR)
Seminar in Tibetan Buddhism II
The theory and practice of Tibetan Buddhism.
RELB 527 - (3) (O)
Seminar in Chinese Buddhism
Selected doctrinal and historical issues in Chinese Buddhism.
RELB 535, 536 - (4) (IR)
Literary and Spoken Tibetan III, IV
An intermediate course in the philosophical and spiritual language
of Tibet, past and present.
RELB 539 - (3) (IR)
Tibetan Buddhist TantraDzokchen
Studies the Dzokchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhist Tantra,
focusing on its philosophical and contemplative systems, and its historical
and social contexts.
RELB 543, 544 - (3) (SI)
Sanskrit Religious Texts
Prerequisite: SANS 501, 502 or equivalent.
Readings in Sanskrit religious
and philosophical works, including their syntax, meaning, and translation.
RELB 546 - (3) (IR)
Seminar in Mahayana Buddhism
Studies the Middle Way School of Madhyamika,
reasoning, its intent and place in the spiritual path.
RELB 547, 548 - (4) (IR)
Literary and Spoken Tibetan V, VI
Prerequisite: RELB 500, 501, 535, 536, or equivalent.
in the philosophical and spiritual language of Tibet, past and present.
RELB 549 - (3) (IR)
Religious History of Tibet
Surveys political, social, religious, and intellectual issues
in Tibetan history from the fifth to fifteenth centuries, emphasizing the formation
of the classical categories, practices, and ideals of Tibetan Buddhism.
RELB 555 - (3) (IR)
Prerequisite: RELB 210 or equivalent.
Advanced study of a major issue,
thinker, or text (in translation) from the Pali/Sanskrit Buddhist tradition.
RELB 560 - (3) (SI)
Studies Pali religious and philosophical works, and their grammar
RELB 561 - (1-3) (IR)
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit
Prerequisite: SANS 501, 502 or equivalent.
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit
works, and their grammar and translation.
RELB 566 - (3) (E)
Seminar on Indian Buddhism
Investigates the techniques and presuppositions involved in
the methods used to study Buddhism, including textual, historical, philosophical,
and social scientific methods.
RELB 580, 581 - (4) (IR)
Literary and Spoken Tibetan VII, VIII
Prerequisite: RELB 500, 501, 535, 536, 547, 548 or equivalent.
the Yogachara-Svatantrika system as presented in Jang-kyas Presentation
of Tenets, oral debate, and exercises in spoken Tibetan.
RELB 587, 588 - (2) (Y)
Colloquial Tibetan VII, VIII
Prerequisite: for 588, RELB 587.
Advanced-level study of colloquial Tibetan.
RELB 591 - (3) (E)
Seminar in Chinese Buddhism
Studies the major schools of Chinese Buddhism:
Hua-yen, Pure Land, and Chan.
RELB 700, 701 - (3) (Y)
Readings in Japanese Buddhist Studies I, II
Prerequisite: JAPN 102 or instructor permission.
Practice in reading
and translating selected works of modern Japanese Buddhist scholarship. Introduction
to research materials in Japanese.
RELB 702, 703 - (3) (Y)
Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts I, II
Instruction in the reading and interpretation of Chinese Buddhist
texts and the use of reference tools such as Chinese language dictionaries,
bibliographies, encyclopedias, and indices.
RELB 823 - (3) (S)
Advanced Literary and Spoken Tibetan
Examines selected topics and techniques of Tibetan education.
RELB 831, 832 - (1-3) (SI)
Advanced Sanskrit/Pali I, II
Advanced readings in poetry, psychology, or philosophy.
RELC 504 - (3) (SI)
The Apocalyptic Tradition
The tradition of apocalyptic thought, as expressed in ancient
Jewish and Christian literature and in selected contemporary literature. Emphasizes
literary forms and features, historical and theological presuppositions, and
RELC 510 - (3) (Y)
Natural Law in Judaism and Christianity
Studies the concept of natural law in Jewish and Christian
theology and how these respective religious traditions dealt with a concept
that claims that all morality is not the direct result of specific religious
RELC 511 - (3) (IR)
Phenomenology and Christology
A systematic exposition of the phenomenon of selfhood on the
basis of traditional materials from Christology and recent investigations in
RELC 512 - (3) (IR)
Development of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Catholic Liberalism
Catholic theology underwent a significant change in the middle of the 19th century
as the Catholic Church sought to defend itself against
the secular liberal state and emerging historical consciousness within philosophy
and theology. This course studies that change from the Thomistic revival (1878),
through the condemnation of Modernism (1907), to the emergency of the "New
Theology" with such theologians as Karl Rahner, Yves Congar, and Henri
RELC 513 - (3) (IR)
Being and God
A constructive treatment of questions related to the possibility
of the experience of being and God or of the being of God.
RELC 519 - (3) (O)
Theology in the Nineteenth Century
Analyzes and interprets the theology of major thinkers in the
19th century. Special attention to Kant, Hegel, and Schleiermacher.
RELC 520 - (3) (E)
Analyzes and interprets major currents in philosophical and
systematic theology in the 20th century.
RELC 530 - (3) (IR)
Early Christianity and Classical Judaism
Studies early Christian writings directed to Judaism; the role
of Judaism in shaping the Christian intellectual tradition; and Christian interpretation
of Jewish scripture.
RELC 531 - (3) (IR)
Early Christianity and Graeco-Roman Culture
Pagan criticism of Christianity and the response of Christian
apologists; and Christianity and the Greek philosophical traditions, especially
Stoicism and Platonism.
RELC 551 - (3) (E)
Early Christian Thought
Prerequisite: RELC 205 or instructor permission.
of a selected issue, movement, or figure in Christian thought of the second
through the fifth centuries.
RELC 552 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in American Catholic History
Considers a selected movement, issue, or figure in the history
of Catholicism in America.
RELC 564 - (3) (IR)
Seminar in Modern Christian Thought
Examines a major modern Christian thinker, movement, or problem
in Christian thought.
RELC 567 - (3) (SI)
Early Christian Ethics
Surveys ethical thought and moral issues in early Christianity
on the basis of New Testament and early patristic materials.
RELC 580 - (3) (E)
Advanced Exegesis of the New Testament I
Prerequisite: Intermediate knowledge of Hellenistic
Reading and interpretation of the Greek text of one of the
RELC 581 - (3) (O)
Advanced Exegesis of the New Testament II
Prerequisite: Intermediate knowledge of Hellenistic
Reading and interpretation of the Greek text of one or more
of the epistles.
RELC 583 - (3) (E)
Love and Justice
Examines various conceptions of love and justice in selected
Protestant and Catholic literature, mainly from the last 50 years.
RELC 711 - (3) (IR)
Seminar in Roman Catholic Moral Theology
Reviews the Catholic tradition in moral theology, emphasizing
the influence of historical consciousness on post-Vatican II ethics in natural
law, the use of scripture, social ethics, and issues of authority.
RELC 724 - (3) (SI)
Popular Religion, 1300-1700
Analyzes various approaches to the study of western Christianity,
focusing on the experience and practice of religion by the laity. Cross-listed
as HIEU 724.
RELC 815 - (3) (IR)
Readings of Greek fathers such as John Chrysoston and Gregory
of Nazianzus, with emphasis on grammar, syntax and rhetoric. An intermediate
to advanced level course.
RELC 841 - (3) (IR)
Seminar on American Religious Thought I: Edwards to Emerson
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
A historical and theological examination
of seminal figures in the development of American religious thought from the
the "American Renaissance."
RELC 842 - (3) (IR)
Seminar on American Religious Thought II: Liberalism Through Neo-Orthodoxy
A historical and theological examination of the work of major
religious thinkers in American from 1860 to 1960.
RELC 844 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Reformation Studies
Intensive study of a selected movement, issue, or figure in
the 16th century.
RELC 846 - (3) (SI)
Development of Catholic Social and Political Thought
Studies papal encyclicals since Renum Novarium (1891), and
American Catholic attitudes toward organized labor and social action.
RELC 847 - (3) (SI)
American Catholic Approaches to Religious Liberty
Religious Liberty was the distinctive contribution of American
Catholicism to the Second Vatican Council. Traces the development of this doctrine
from the 17th to the 20th century in the United States.
RELC 889 - (3) (E)
Seminar in New Testament Theology
Considers the nature and scope of New Testament theology and
of one central theme, such as Christology.
RELC 890 - (3) (O)
Topics in New Testament Studies
Selected issues in the theory and methods of New Testament
RELC 892 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Early Christianity
Studies selected topics in early Christian history and thought.
Topic varies annually.
RELG 503 - (3) (SI)
Readings in Chinese Religion
Examines selected readings from a specific text, figure, or
theme. Readings emphasize possible structures of religious language and their
RELG 506 - (3) (IR)
Interpretation of Myth
An interdisciplinary study of myth, focusing on structuralist,
hermeneutical, and history of religion methodologies.
RELG 507 - (3) (O)
Studies existentialist, phenomenological, structuralist, literary,
historical, and psychological approaches to the interpretation of texts, especially
narrative religious texts; and the interactions of language, history, and understanding.
RELG 508 - (3) (IR)
Seminar on Religion and American Culture I
Prerequisite: A course in either American history or
American religious history. Open to upper-level undergraduates.
Examines Americans religious
identities in relation to the dominant values of American social and intellectual
life, emphasizing the
concept of community. Subjects include Puritanism, the Mennonites, the Shakers,
Mormonism, and the growth of Evangelicalism.
RELG 514 - (3) (SI)
Seminar on a Major Religious Thinker
Studies the relationship between philosophical and religious
thought as seen in a selected philosopher or theologian.
RELG 515 - (3) (Y)
Issues in Religious Ethics
Studies selected issues such as mysticism and morality, conscience,
natural law, nonviolence, and methodology in religious ethics.
RELG 517 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in History of Religions
Introduces the basic thinkers in the field of History of Religions
and to fundamental problems in the study of religious sociology, mythology,
RELG 518 - (3) (IR)
Seminar in Philosophical Theology
Studies ideas of God in Western thought from Plato through
RELG 524 - (3) (SI)
Problems in Philosophy of Religion
Examines classic and contemporary discussions of problems in
the philosophy of religion.
RELG 541 - (3) (O)
Seminar in Social and Political Thought
An examination of the social and political thought of selected
RELG 563 - (3) (S)
Seminar: Issues in the Study of Religion and Literature
Analyzes, in terms of fundamental theory, the purposes, problems,
and possibilities of interdisciplinary work in religion and literary criticism.
RELG 569 - (3) (IR)
Contemporary Religious Movements
Studies the psychological, sociological, and political dimensions
of conversion and ideological commitment in selected contemporary religious
RELG 571 - (3) (IR)
Victorian Crisis of Faith: Its Religious and Literary Expressions
the central religious and philosophical issues of Victorian thought (as presented
in literature, philosophy, and theology) from
the time of Kebles Assize sermon and the advent of the Oxford Movement
into the period of Thomas Hardy.
RELG 573 - (3) (IR)
Theology of Culture
Studies the relationship between religion and culture. Topics
include a theological assessment of the value of culture; the impact of secularization;
the critique of religion levied by various disciplines; and the problems of
theology in a pluralistic context.
RELG 575 - (3) (IR)
Myth and Ritual
Studies theories of myth and ritual from an interdisciplinary
perspective, including selected mythological and ritual texts.
RELG 578 - (3) (Y)
Human Genetics, Ethics, and Theology
Prerequisite: RELG 265 or instructor permission.
Studies ethical problems
in genetic screening, counseling, and prenatal diagnosis. Ideas of biological
and theological determinism are
RELG 585 - (3) (SI)
Narrative in Ethics and Theology
Examines the nature of narrative modes of representation and
argument and how narrative theory has been employed in contemporary ethics and
RELG 590 - (3) (IR)
Ethics, Politics and Rhetoric
Studies the perennial problems of politics and morals, considered
primarily by the reading of plays, novels, speeches, and historical documents.
RELG 592 - (3) (IR)
Theology and Politics
Prerequisite: Undergraduates must have instructor permission.
the relationship between theological reflection and political thought, with special
attention to how theological positions may
have implications for political theory and vice-versa.
RELG 705 - (3) (Y)
Myth and Modern Drama
Studies the religious and narrative elements of Greek, biblical,
and other mythic traditions as they exist in the works of modern dramatists.
RELG 714 - (1) (IR)
Comparative Indo-European Mythology
Studies structural parallels between myths of the Indo-European
language family, based on the methods pioneered by George's Dumezil.
RELG 720 - (3) (SI)
Wittgenstein and Philosophy of Religion
Studies several major works of Ludwig Wittgenstein as they
bear on the problems raised by the philosophical study of religion.
721 - (3) (SI)
Kant and Philosophy of Religion
Examines Kants Critique of Practical Reason and
Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, with special attention to
Kants view of the relation between the theoretical and practical employments
of reason, and the implications for theistic belief.
RELG 722 - (3) (SI)
Rationality, Justification and Religious Belief
Examines several major contemporary approaches to the question
of the justification of religious belief, involving issues of relativism and
kinds of rationality.
RELG 725 - (3) (IR)
Kierkegaard and Philosophy of Religion
Examines Søren Kierkegaards
contribution to the philosophy of religion through his major philosophical works, Philosophical
Fragments and Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Their bearing on
the philosophical study of religion is highlighted by a prefatory examination
of some works by Hume or Kant which provide useful contrast.
RELG 800 - (3) (E)
Negativity and Religious Imagination
Examines the ways in which imaginative literature, theological
reflection, and hermeneutical inquiry interpret aspects of negativity in human
experience and understanding.
RELG 808 - (2) (Y)
Principles and Practice of Bioethics Services
Reviews the underlying principles, existing models, and literature
in the practice of ethics consultation in health care.
RELG 809 - (3) (Y)
Proseminar on Current Controversies in Bioethics
Studies controversies regarding research with the embryo and
fetus, issues in AIDS prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and requests for
assistance with suicide or euthanasia.
RELG 810 - (3) (Y)
Proseminar in Clinical Ethics
Explores ethical perspectives and clinical decisions, including
situation ethics, casuistry, principlism, and feminist perspectives.
RELG 812, 813 - (1-3) (Y)
Figures and Traditions in Philosophical and Religious Ethics
A two-semester course that introduces the basic ethical works
and theories of central figures in the Western tradition: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle,
Augustine, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Bentham, Mill, Buber, Dewey,
RELG 814 - (3) (Y)
History of Bioethics via the Great Cases
Topics include Tuskegee, Jewish
Hospital for Chronic Diseases, Philadelphia Head-Injury Studies, Quinlan and
Cruzan, Jehovahs Witness,
Bouvia, Quill and Freud, Baby Jane Doe, Baby Theresa, Angela Carder, Wanglie,
the Oregon Plan, etc. Concentrates on analysis of cases and turning points in
the field of bioethics.
RELG 833 - (3) (E)
Comparative Religious Ethics
Examines the theoretical and methodological questions underlying
comparative studies of religious ethics. Tests several methods in relation to
materials from different religious traditions.
RELG 834 - (3) (O)
Contemporary Theological Ethics
Prerequisite: instructor permission.
Examines trends and controversies
in contemporary theological ethics.
RELG 840 - (3) (IR)
Historiography Seminar in American Religion
Prerequisite: instructor permission.
Examines current historiographical
issues in the interpretation of religion in American history.
RELG 855 - (3) (SI)
Seminar in the Thought of Martin Heidegger
Examines the works of Heidegger
(especially Being and Time)
and their contribution to contemporary theology.
RELH 553 - (3) (E)
Hindu Philosophical Systems
Prerequisite: RELH 209, RELH 211, or instructor permission.
the classical systems of Hindu philosophical thought through careful examination
of primary texts and recent secondary scholarship.
RELH 554 - (3) (IR)
Explores the place of ethics and moral reasoning in Hindu thought
and practice. Selected materials emphasize the particularity of different Hindu
visions of the ideal human life.
RELH 589 - (3) (IR)
Investigates the interplay of myth, ritual, and society in
ancient India, taking the Vedic textual tradition and the theories of Jan Heesterman
as its dual starting point.
RELH 717 - (3) (SI)
An intensive examination of Hindu conceptions of space and
RELI 540 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Islamic Theology
Prerequisite: RELI 207 or instructor permission.
Studies Islamic theology,
mainly Sunni, from its origins through the 14th century.
RELI 541 - (3) (IR)
Islamic Theology: The Shiite Creed
Studies Twelver Shiite religious thought in comparison
with other Shiite and Sunni sects.
RELI 542 - (3) (IR)
War and Peace in Islam: A Comparative Ethics Approach
Studies Islamic notions of holy war and peace as they relate
to statecraft and political authority in Muslim history.
RELI 710 - (3) (SI)
Islamic Religious Law
Prerequisite: RELI 207 or RELC 530.
Studies the sources and implications
of the Islamic Religious Law (the Sharia).
RELI 860 - (3) (SI)
Seminar in Shiite Theology
Prerequisite: RELI 540, two years of Persian or Arabic.
study of Shiite Islamic Theology from its
origin through the 14th century.
RELJ 505 - (3) (IR)
Judaism and Antiquity
Explores representative systems of Judaic religion that flourished
in Palestine, Egypt, and Mesopotamia from 500 B.C. to 200 A.D.
RELJ 522 - (3) (IR)
The Shaping of the Rabbinic Tradition
Investigates specific aspects
of premodern development of Rabbinic Judaism, e.g., "the holy man," "mysticism and society,"
"canon and exegesis," and "law as theology."
RELJ 523 - (3) (O)
Modern Jewish Thought: From Phenomenology to Scripture
Studies postmodern trajectories in the Jewish philosophies
of Rosenzweig and Levinas, with comparative readings in Derrida and Ricoeur,
and supplementary studies of Descartes, Kant, Husserl, Cohen, Buber, and Lyotard.
RELJ 528 - (3) (O)
Seminar in Israelite Religion
Advanced study in a selected aspect of the religion of ancient
RELJ 529 - (3) (SI)
Seminar in Hebrew Bible
Investigates a selected topic in the study of Hebrew scriptures.
RELJ 594 - (3) (SI)
Judaism and Kantian Philosophy
Prerequisite: Courses in philosophy or Jewish thought,
or instructor permission; reading knowledge of German helpful.
of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and Jewish theology in the 19th century and
early 20th century, primarily concentrating
on the thought of the German-Jewish thinker Hermann Cohen (1842-1918).
RELJ 888 - (3) (SI)
Biblical and Jewish Palestinian Aramaic
Introduces the Aramaic language, intended especially for New
Testament graduate students. Emphasizes mastery of the grammar and syntax of
Official or Imperial Aramaic and especially Middle Aramaic (second century B.C.E.
to second century C.E.).
RELS 895 - (3-9) (S)
Systematic readings in a selected topic under detailed supervision.
RELS 896 - (3-9) (S)
Research on problems leading to a masters thesis.
RELS 897 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research
For masters research,
taken before a thesis director has been selected.
RELS 898 - (3-12) (S)
For masters thesis, taken under the supervision
of a thesis director.
RELS 997 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director
has been selected.
RELS 999 - (3-12) (S)
For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a