2020-2021 Graduate Courses

Start dates of fall courses have been added. Please check this page regularly for updates. A course draft timetable is available for download; stay tuned for updated descriptions.

DSR courses will be available for registration as of August 15, 2020.  The  delivery mode for each course is listed along with the date and time below.  Students enrolling in online sections should select meeting section 9101.  

Non-RLG Students: For permission to enroll in an RLG course, please bring a completed course add/drop form to the Graduate Administrator.

DSR Timetable


FileDSR Grad Course Timetable-2020-2021 as of Jan 2021.xlsx


DSR Courses - Year


RLG1000Y – PhD Method and Theory (starts Sept 11)

B. Scott (Fall) and A. Goodman (Spring)

Friday 10am-1pm, online

The seminar is the core course of the Department’s doctoral program. It is required of, and limited to, all first year Ph.D. students of the Department. The purpose of the course is to provide doctoral students with a general understanding of the study of religion through constructive engagement with a number of fundamental challenges--theoretical and methodological--that commonly confront researchers in the field. It revisits major interpretive controversies that have shaped the history of "religious studies" as an interdisciplinary field, inviting students to join in this ongoing scholarly conversation. 


RLG 1501H Directed Reading/Staff

Independent Study Courses – Undertaken in Any Term with Approval

With the approval of the Associate Director, and, in thecase of a doctoral student, with the approval of the student’s Advisory Committee as well, a student may construct an independent study course of Directed Reading with a professor who agrees to supervise the work. The form for this purpose is available at the Centre. Normally no more than one fullyear or two halfyear courses of this type are permitted in a degree program. These courses may be undertaken during any term, including the summer.


RLG 2000Y Major MA Research Paper/Staff

Prepared Under Direction of a Professor

Major research paper (at least 50 pages) on a topic relevant to the study of religion, prepared under the direction of a professor. By January 30 of the year in which they intend to write the paper, students should identify their topic and secure the approval of the professor who will direct their work on the paper.


DSR Courses - Fall


RLG1200H – MA Method and Theory (starts Sept 10)


Thursdays 10am-12pm, online

The M.A. Workshop Group is required of all first year M.A students of the Department. M.A. students will meet every week during the first term in a seminar course designed to provide rigorous training in method and theory in the study of religion. Topics considered include: historical development of religious studies, significance and application of interdisciplinary methodologies, key theorists and theoretical controversies.


RLG2060H – Religion and Philosophy in the Enlightenment (starts Sept 16)

J. DiCenso

Wednesdays 3-5pm, online

This is an advanced study of selected Enlightenment thinkers with a focus on their analyses of religion. The course is mainly devoted to the work of Spinoza, Hume, and Kant, although this may vary from year to year. Issues addressed include the rational critique of traditional religious sources and concepts, the relations among religion, ethics and politics, and the modern re-interpretation of religious ideas.


RLG3144H – Isaiah & Prophecy in Early Judaism and Christianity (starts Sept 14)

J. Newman

Monday 1-3pm, online

The course considers the various ways in which the medium of prophecy is transformed in the post-exilic period, particularly as this relates to the retrieval and extension of Isaianic traditions.  The course will focus on the deployment of Isaiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament.  The prerequisite languages for this course are Biblical Hebrew and Koine Geek.


RLG3216H – Christianity in Ancient Near East (starts Sept 14)


Mondays 2-4pm, online

The historical study of Christianity traditionally begins in the eastern Mediterranean and then turns westwards, focusing on the historical and theological development of Christianity in its Greek and Latin contexts. But such an approach paints an extremely partial picture of the development and spread of Christianity in late antiquity and the early medieval period more broadly—one that, for example, completely omits the rich heritage of Christianity in the Syriac tradition. A dialect of Palestinian Aramaic, Syriac was, for several centuries, the preeminent Christian literary language from the Syrian countryside through Mesopotamia to the Iranian plateau. In addition to surveying (in English translation) the unique biblical, theological, liturgical, hagiographical, and historiographical contributions of Syriac-speaking Christians and their literatures from the first centuries of the Common Era up to the early Islamic period, this course will focus on the importance of Syriac and Syriac Christianity as a bridge linking Rome with Persia and Byzantium with Baghdad. As such, some time, too, will be spent examining the history of Christianity in upper Egypt, Ethiopia, and the Arabian Peninsula. This course should thus be of interest to graduate students in a variety of fields, including biblical studies and Christian origins, Christianity in late antiquity, Sasanian/Zoroastrian studies, and early Islam.


RLG3250H – Heresy and Deviance in Early Christianity (starts Sept 15)

J. Marshall

Tuesday 1-3pm, online

A study of the construction of deviance or heresy within the literature of first and second century Christianity: tasks include a survey of sociological theory in its application to deviance in the ancient world and close readings of selected texts from first and second century Christian and pre-Christian communities. Prerequisite: RLG 241Y1 and at least one of RLG 319H1-327H1


RLG3653H - Jewish Exegetical Traditions

H. Fox

Tuesdays 3-5pm, online

A study of Bible exegesis in Hebrew and translation, illustrating the growth of scriptural traditions in various Jewish sectarian groups and communities.  The selection will include Philo and other Hellenistic Jews, the Dead Sea Scrolls sectarians, mystics, apocalypticists, Pharisees and rabbis.  During the second term discussion will focus on the Jewish-Christian polemic ranging from New Testament and rabbinic sources to occasional explorations into church fathers and gnosticism.


RLG3704H – Readings in Sanskrit Literature (starts Sept 10)

A. Rao

Mondays and Thursdays 10am – 12pm, online

In this course, we explore the major genres of Sanskrit literature, including epic, courtly poetry, inscriptional poetry, drama, and devotional praise poetry. Students will become familiar with philological methods for interpreting Sanskrit literature and learn about Sanskrit literary criticism and Sanskrit literary theory, in conversation with relevant theoretical debates in modern literary studies. The objective is to use the reading of Sanskrit to enhance our understanding of the religious and cultural history of South Asia. While class sessions will be devoted to primary source readings, this is a content course culminating in a final research paper.


RLG3722H – Approaching the Literary in South Asian Religions (starts Sept 8)

K. Ruffle

Tuesdays 10am to 12pm, online

This course will introduce the student to the study of South Asian Religions from a literary perpective; literary primary sources will be highlighted and literary theoretical models will be explored and discussed. While a variety of sources from a number of traditions will be investigated (from Vedic to vernacular devotion and modern novels), the stress in this course will be reading literature carefully in through different methodological lenses. Students will learn to be more comfortable using literature in their own work on South Asian Religions.


RLG3771H – After the Saiva Age: Regional Saivism in the Second Millenium (starts Sept 9)

S. Raman

Wednesdays, 10am to 12pm, online

The aim of this course is to examine the spread of Śaivism after the first millenium in South Asia which, in Alexis Sanderson’s magisterial work, has come to be seen as the commencement of the Śaiva Age. In order to see how this Śaiva Age comes to expand locally the course concentrates on one specific locale – the Tamil region – and the emergence of Śaivism as the elite textual religion between the 14-18th centuries of the Common Era. The course will thus concentrate on looking at specific texts – Vedāntic (doctrinal) and/or Bhakti (devotional) -  of the Tamil Śaiva Siddhānta and the Tamil Vīraśaiva tradition, to understand the construction of a trans-sectarian Śaiva religious landscape by the colonial period. 


RLG3789H – Burmese Buddhist Literature (starts Sept 14)

C. Emmrich

Mondays 2-4, online

Burma, also known as Myanmar, offers one of the richest literary landscapes in the Buddhist world. This course introduces students to the Buddha’s sermons, to the animal lives of struggling bodhisattvas, to the poetic creativity of Mandalay princesses, to the intricacies of the Buddhist philosophy of mind, to the textual regimes of monastic dress codes, and to cosmographies of Buddhist kingship in the interface of South and Southeast Asian religions. Students will be trained to take a critical look at the fascinating world of Buddhist texts, inflected by the scriptural language of Pali, through a specifically Burmese prism.  Burmese/Pali language knowledge is not required.


DSR Courses – Winter


RLG2022HS – Religion, Mourning, and Trauma

M. Hewitt

Mondays 11am to 1pm, online

A cross-cultural, psychoanalytic examination of subjective religious experiences through myths, narratives, rituals and communal actions express the multifacted dimensions of trauma and their impact on individuals and their social cultural contexts. Exploration of ways religious narratives and social practices encode multiple levels of psychodynamic processes that attempt to symbolize unbearable anxiety, grief, loss deriving from personal and social traumas. Different religious and cross-cultural narratives and popular spiritualities will be explored, focussing on ways they may both reproduce and symoblize trauma while also providing resources for healing. Cross-cultural case studies examining the depth psychodynamics of individual and group trauma from the perspective of psychoanalysis, psychology and anthropology that emphasize emotional creativity and healing potential without relying on discourses of pathology will be considered.


RLG2068H Philosophy of Religion: Proofs of the Existence of God

D. Novak

Mondays 10am-12pm, online

This course deals with the most important point of intersection between theology and philosophy: the existence of God. This intersection is only possible when theologians are interested in philosophical argument, and when philosophers are interested in the “God question.” This course will deal with this intersection on the specific question: Are there proofs of the existence of God? We will be examining how this question has been dealt with by some prominent Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu thinkers, such as Avicenna, Maimonides, Aquinas, Leibniz, Kant, Rosenzweig, and Barth. 


RLG3527H Anthropology of Islam

N. Moumtaz

Wednesdays 11am to 1pm, online

This course highlights the anthropological contributions to the study of Islam, providing students both an historical overview of anthropological approaches to the study of Islam and readings of seminal contemporary ethnographies of Islam, highlighting the latest interventions in the field. The course will cover a variety of areas of the Muslim world, from Muslim-minority to Muslim-majority countries, East and West.


RLG3501H - Religion and the Liberal State: The Case of Islam

M. Fadel

Tuesdays 11am to 12:20 pm, online

This seminar will address, as a theoretical matter, the relationship of religion to a liberal state, with particular attention to the writings of John Rawls as set forth in Political Liberalism and leading religion cases law from Canada, the United States and the European Court of Human Rights that address the relationship of religion and a liberal constitutional order. The course will also provide an introduction into classical and modern Islamic thought on the State. More information is posted here:  https://www.law.utoronto.ca/course/2020-2021/religion-and-liberal-state-case-islam-rlg3501h-jpj2029h-9101


Cancelled RLG3555HF – The Prophetic Family in Islamic Tradition 

S. Virani 

Mondays 1-3pm, online

The conception of the ahl al-bayt, the family of the Prophet Muhammad, plays a vital role in Islamic history, thought and piety. In the tashahhud portion of the ritual prayers, Muslims of all persuasions supplicate daily, “O God! Bless Muhammad and his family (āl) as you blessed Abraham and his family.” From the Arabic teachings of the Prophet’s cousin ʿAli and the Shiʿi Imams descended from him, to the legitimacy drawn from their sayyid lineage by Sunni religious and political leaders, from the Persian poetry of countless Muslim mystics to the Indic and Turkish stories about members of the hallowed lineage, this course draws on both primary and secondary sources to explore the significance of the Prophet’s family in the Islamic tradition.


RLG3622H – Maimonides

K. Green

Wednesdays 2-4pm, online

An introduction to The Guide of the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides, and to some of the basic themes in Jewish philosophical theology and religion. Among topics to be considered through close textual study of the Guide: divine attributes; biblical interpretation; creation versus eternity; prophecy; providence, theodicy, and evil; wisdom and human perfection. Also, to be examined are leading modern interpreters of Maimonides.


RLG3763H Readings in Sanskrit Philosophy

L. Obrock

Tuesday 1-3pm and Thursday 12-2pm, online

Advanced reading of classical Sanskrit philosophical texts.  Students will learn techniques and strategies for analyzing Sanskrit primary sources in hermeneutics, logic, metaphysics, aesthetics, or language philosophy.  While the course will include a review of Sanskrit grammar, our focus will be on specific philosophical problems encountered in the readings.


JPR2051H Fanaticism: A Political History

R. Marshall

Tuesdays 12-2pm, online

This seminar in theory will explore the modern history of the concept of ‘fanaticism’ and tis role in the development of political modernity. A focus on the concept of the “fanatic” (and its cognates) from the perspective of its various uses in political and religious thought from the Early Modern period through the Enlightenment and up to the present day, provides a fascinating opportunity for a critical review of the secular, rationalist, and scientific assumptions underwriting modern political forms and concepts, especially those of liberal democracy. At the same time, the course will offer critical insight into the ways in which religious and political differences among colonial “others” were, and continue to be, central to the elaboration of Western theoretical discourse on fanaticism and extremism as forms of “political pathology”. (Given by the Departments of Political Science and Religion)


Other Courses of Interest


Many other Departments may have course of interest to you.  Please visit their websites to view their current course offerings



Art History

Book History and Print Culture


Comparative Literature

East Asian Studies




Medieval Studies

Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations




Toronto School of Theology Courses

For further information on graduate courses offered by the Toronto School of Theology please visit their website.

TST courses in the 5000 series taught by DSR Cross Appointed Faculty should be taken as RLG4001H and other TST courses must be taken as a Directed Reading Course using the code RLG1501/RLG1502. A Directed Reading Course Form should be completed for all TST courses.


View our archive of past graduate courses.