International relations

Religions in Global Politics

Module code: L2075A
Level 6
30 credits in autumn teaching
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework, Essay

During this module you will explore the implications of the 'return' of religions, both for world politics and for thinking about international relations.

Many sociologists and philosophers have interpreted this return as 'the end of modernity' or the 'de-secularisation of the world'. You will primarily focus on the renewed centrality of religious identities as strategic frames of reference for politics in the post-Cold War world.

Against the background of the growing multicultural nature of contemporary international society resulting from what Hedley Bull has aptly termed the 'revolt against the West', the module will encourage you to:

  • consider the implicit and predominant reading of religion in international relations as the ultimate threat to international order and stability (especially in the forms of the identity politics of the 'new wars' and the terrorist attacks of religious fundamentalists)
  • engage critically with Huntington's thesis of the 'clash of civilisations'
  • discuss the implications of this 'return' for the future of foreign policy and the normative structure and world order of contemporary international society.

Module learning outcomes

  • Develop a systematic and critical understanding of religion as a threat to the international order especially as it relates to identity politics, ‘new wars’ and terrorist attacks.
  • Develop a conceptual understanding of the empirical and theoretical uncertainties, ambiguities and limits of contemporary scholarly debate on religion and its role in international relations.
  • Effectively synthesise and communicate a detailed analysis of the role of religion in foreign policy, development, and peacebulding.