Master of Arts in Religion and Culture
The MA in religion and culture concentrates on the interdisciplinary study of religion in its cultural and historical contexts. The department emphasizes both textual and fieldwork methods, as well as writing and speaking skills that further the public understanding of religion. In addition to core faculty from Religion and Culture, the program draws upon cognate faculty from the university.
Applicants to the MA program must have completed, or be in the process of completing, an honours (four-year) BA or its equivalent. They must meet the minimum university standard of a B average in the fourth year, and have a B+ in their major. Students who do not meet these criteria may apply for admission as qualifying students.
The department welcomes applications from students in religious studies, and also from students in other departments in the humanities and social sciences whose training and proposed program involves significant interdisciplinary research pertinent to religious studies. Normally, such applicants will have taken the equivalent of 5 full-year courses in religious studies.
Applicants must submit a writing sample, such as a term paper, as well as an application essay, guidelines for which are available from the department and in the application package.
Advanced standing or exemption is occasionally granted on the basis of work completed previously. Such standing will be considered upon written application by the student at the beginning of the program.
All students follow one of two options in the MA in religion and culture: the course option or the thesis option. Students are initially admitted into the course option. Admission to the thesis option is granted upon the successful completion of an accepted thesis proposal.
Students in both options are required to complete RE693 - Comprehensive Examination. This course is based on a reading list provided by the department, and emphasizes understanding of the world's religions and the academic study of religion. In case of a failing grade, the course can be repeated once.
In addition to RE693 - Comprehensive Examination, course-option students are required to complete RE698* - Major Research Project and five other half-credit electives. Of these, a maximum of three courses may be taught by cognate and other faculty members outside the department. For the research project, students focus on an area of study chosen in consultation with the course supervisor, then present that work, or a distillation of it, to a public audience, e.g., a lecture at a university colloquium, a conference or other off-campus venues. The assessment of the project includes both the written work and the public presentation.
Thesis-option students, in addition to completing RE693 - Comprehensive Examination, are required to complete four half-credit electives, at least two of which are taught by members of the department, and to prepare an acceptable thesis proposal, a thesis, and an oral defence (RE699 - Thesis). Thesis-stream students are not permitted to take RE698* - Major Research Project for credit. A student cannot register in RE699 - Thesis until the proposal is formally accepted. Proposals must follow the departmentally approved guidelines. A proposal may be submitted any time after admission to the program. Acceptance is dependent upon the quality of the proposal and the department's assessment of a student's overall ability.
Students whose thesis work necessitates the use of a second language will be required to demonstrate competence in that language before the thesis proposal is accepted. Decisions about language requirements and how they shall be satisfied are made by the student's thesis committee, in consultation with the graduate officer.
Course-option students enrolled full-time normally take three terms (12 months) to complete their degree, while thesis-option students normally take four terms (16 months).
A student's specific program, including course selections, must be approved by the graduate officer.