Welcome and About
Study of Religions
The Study of Religions Department at UCC is a unique department in the Republic of Ireland. It is the only department which teaches courses from a non-theological and non-confessional perspective. We strive in delivering and upholding the university’s motto of critical and independent thinking. Our department is well placed in our current geopolitical time, Religion, in all its understandings, continues to play an influential role in the world, for good or ill. Teaching students at university about ‘religion’ is not only essential but pivotal in order to prepare them for their time after graduation.
Exploring a deeper study of religions allows one to understand the world we live in. We see significant streams of religions in politics, society, economics, literature, music and art and it is for this reason that we need an understanding of religions – in all their various manifestations - in order to make sense of our changing world. Few days pass without reports in the media on the impact of religions upon both local and global events, and on the lives of individuals and communities. These issues effect students and the Study of Religions is the place where they can participate in a learning and teaching classroom to deliberate these thoughts.
The Study of Religions Department here at UCC allows students to research and explore these important questions that are a part of foreign policies, laws, gender roles, diet, dress and ethical and moral beliefs. Religions affect the ways in which people interact and communicate and can be a powerful resource for both cooperation and antagonism. Freedom of expression, equality and tolerance and justifications for violence and war, very often have strong religious dimensions that are also part of our contemporary debates.
The history of the relationship between University College Cork and religion is long and complicated. Initially being part of the ‘Godless colleges’ established between 1850-1882 (Belfast, Cork and Galway), the ‘Queens Colleges’ or ‘Queen’s University of Ireland’ were not permitted to offer instruction in ‘theology’. This was in order to uphold a vision of establishing universities that would ‘afford a university education to members of all religious denominations in Ireland’. This separation of ‘religion’ was established in the Universities Act 1908 (7.4), which was amended in the Universities Act 1997 (46-D). This change led to early discussions which later led to the establishment of a Study of Religions Department in 2007.
Aims and Objectives
- To explore the ways that ‘religion’ as a concept is understood and the sources for understanding it (lived realities, texts, material culture, amongst others).
- To approach religions from a non-theological and non-confessional perspective
- To enhance religious literacy through research and teaching from a variety of approaches such as historical, philosophical, anthropological, ethical, sociological, psychological, exegetical, semiotical, and amongst others.
- To understand the impact of religions on our understanding of history, politics, society, economics, literature, music, art and amongst other areas.
- To evaluate religions in diverse global, regional, cultural and sociohistorical contexts with a specific focus on our contemporary times
- To analyse the experience of religion as a cultural and social practice, embedded in people's daily lives around the world, both inside and outside the religious institutions.
- To make meaningful contributions to current critical debates and realities in the public square and civic engagement related to the study of religions
UCC's Religions and Global Diversity programme is recognised by The Teaching Council for intending teachers of post-primary RE in Ireland. As society in Ireland and throughout the world becomes more culturally diverse, understanding different religious beliefs and practices becomes increasingly important in the workplace, for teachers, government, development agencies, international business, those in the media, in healthcare and in human resources. In addition to helping you to develop the blend of specific and transferable skills common to all Arts subjects, Religions and Global Diversity will give you insights into religion and culture, which should help you in the workplace and when seeking employment.
I warmly welcome you to explore our department, please contact us for further information.
Dr. Amanullah De Sondy
Head of Department