Student Pages
Postgraduate course

Latter Day Saints and Society in the West, c. 1830-1950

Main content

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Teaching semester

Autumn (the course is not taught every year)

Place of Instruction

Online course, and therefore not restricted to Bergen.

Objectives and Content

The objective of the course is to study aspects of the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church, the largest denomination in the Mormon tradition), both as a majority and as a minority religion in Western society between its founding in 1830 and the mid 20th century. From the outset, the Church came into conflict with non-Mormon neighbouring communities and with political authorities, both on state level and federal level. At the end of the 1840s, in order to escape difficulties, the Church moved to Utah and established what has been described as a theocracy. Soon, the Church also entered into missionary activities internationally, resulting in widespread anti-Mormonism. Typically, outside Utah, the LDS Church was until the 20th century denied the position of a legitimate religion and viewed as a political, moral and national threat to non-Mormon religious communities and states.

The LDS Church was thus a majority religion in Utah, dominating the territory (and from 1896 the state) both economically, politically and religiously, but a minority religion elsewhere, both in the US and internationally.

The course will in particular focus on instances of tensions between the LDS Church and the US between 1830 and 1930, and on examples from Scandinavian history between 1850 and 1925.

Learning Outcomes

The student shall by the end of the course have gained the following learning outcome defined in knowledge, skills, and general competence:


The student

  • Has advanced knowledge of the main elements of how the LDS Church as a majority religion came to dominate Utah politically, economically and religiously
  • has thorough knowledge of the key points of conflicts between the LDS Church/Utah society and the outside world
  • can analyze how the conflicts influenced religious policy towards the minority outside Utah and toward non-Mormons within the state
  • can analyze the LDS Church¿s transition from a status as a "fake" and "dangerous" religion in the 19th century to a legitimate position in a religiously pluralistic society in the 20th century


The student

  • can engage in critical discussions about what it means to be a minority vs majority religion in a society
  • can discuss ways in which a minority religion¿s legitimacy is challenged and the consequences of these challenges

General competence:

The student

can conduct a short independent research project by finding and evaluating relevant source materials and demonstrate academic writing skills, using terminology and concepts representative of academic graduate writing level.

Required Previous Knowledge


Recommended Previous Knowledge

The course literature is in English. Students should therefore have a sound knowledge of English.

Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap


Access to the Course

Admission to the Master¿s Programme Religious Minorities or other Master¿s Programmes at the UiB.

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching and student activities in this course will entirely take place online.


  • short introductory videos
  • readings
  • following each video/reading there will be a short quiz, that tests the students basic understanding of the video/reading
  • individual feedback on discussion postings and essays from the instructor participation in online discussions

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

In this course the following compulsory requirements have to be approved in order to sit for the examination:

  • Course quizzes following videos and/or texts. The quizzes will test the students¿ command of the prescribed course material. There will be 1-5 quizzes per week. Successful completionof at least 70% of the quizzes is required.
  • A minimum of one discussion posting (minimum 100 words) that answers one of more questions as well as a minimum of two responses (of each minimum 50 words) to postings by other students
  • At least four useful comments on the essays 1 and 2 of other students (peer-reviewed assignments)

Compulsory requirements are evaluated with "approved/not approved."

Forms of Assessment

The examination consists of two parts:

  1. A five minutes podcast / Powerpoint presentation with audio: 40% of the total grade
  2. An essay (2000 words): 60% of the total grade

Both parts of the assessment must be passed in order to pass the examination. The examination will be given a total grade.

Examination Support Material


Grading Scale

A graded marking scale (A to F) is used. A is the top grade and F means Failed.

Assessment Semester

The course is normally assessed in the teaching semester only. 

Reading List

The reading list consists of approximately 500 pages.

The reading list is published by June 1st. for the autumn semester and by December 1st.  for the spring semester.

Course Evaluation

The course unit will be evaluated regularly.

Programme Committee

The Programme Committee for The Study of Religion

Course Coordinator

The Programme Committee for The Study of Religion

Course Administrator

Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religions

Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Presentation and essay

    Withdrawal deadline
    • Exam part: Presentation

      20.10.2022, 13:00
      313 hours
      Examination system
      Digital exam
    • Exam part: Essay

      Submission deadline
      02.11.2022, 13:00
      Examination system
      Digital exam