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Study plan for VID-RELMIN Master's Programme in Religious Minorities, spring 2022

Name of qualification

Master of Arts in Religious Minorities

ECTS Credits

90 ECTS

Full-time/Part-time

One-and-a-half-year full time-mode 

Three years part-time-mode (part-time students should have a 50 % study progression (UiBs forskrift om studier, opptak mv. § 4.5.1), which means that the minimum progression is 15 ECTS per semester.

Language of Instruction

The program is taught in English. All written assignments, including exams and master¿s theses, can also be submitted in Norwegian or other Scandinavian languages. Exceptions are assignments that are to be read by other students (e.g. discussions, peer review assignments) .

Semester

Autumn

Objectives and content

Religious minorities live among numerically larger and/or more powerful populations of different religious identities or constitute minorities within their own religious groups or institutions. Religious minorities are sites of religious dissent in which creative religious experimentation tends to alternate with the resilient protection of tradition. They have played central roles in the secularization of many modern states and at the same time have suffered from some of the aspects of modernity they had helped to bring about. In polemics, religious minorities play the role of scapegoats or heroes. Dominated by others and sometimes in a dominant position themselves, they are beneficiaries of privilege, protection, or are tolerated or persecuted. Especially today, issues related to religious minorities are central to domestic and foreign policies and expose some of the most profound ideological conflicts and contradictions in global societies.  

The Religious Minorities master's at the University of Bergen is offered fully online. Religious studies, as understood here, is the historical and comparative study of religions in their diversity; that includes anthropological, sociological, and psychological perspectives. Offering media and policy professionals (e.g. journalists, NGO workers, governmental workers), educators and teachers, activists, social workers, as well as aspiring researchers the unique opportunity to dedicate themselves to the study of religious minorities, this custom-designed program with partnerships with several influential public organizations fosters expertise, a critical and analytical mindset, creativity, and broadmindedness. The program combines in-depth explorations of religious minorities with intensive training in research and writing. Its nurturing learning community integrates a flexible learning environment with one-on-one and group-based supervision by leading international experts at the University of Bergen. 

The Religious Minorities program's curriculum comprises a fixed curriculum, electives, and individual supervision of the preparation and execution of a professional research project. The duration of full-time enrollment is 2 semesters of full-time study plus 1 semester full-time writing a 30 ECTS research thesis. 

In the fixed curriculum, students will work in small, supervised groups exploring major challenges that surround worldwide contemporary religious minorities and their complex historical, political, and religious roots. In addition, the students will acquire a sophisticated conceptual and theoretical apparatus. Last but not least, they are trained in professional research methods and research design competency. The five courses of the fixed curriculum are: Discrimination and Religious Minorities; Freedom of Religion; Multiculturalism; What is a ¿religion¿?; Research Methods, Ethics, and Project Design. 

The electives offer expert knowledge in various subjects related to religious minorities and serve to enrich the students' horizons. Some of the electives focus on single minorities, such as modern antisemitism, Christianity in China and India, Churches in the Middle East, Buddhism in contemporary India, the Yezidis, and Mormonism, whereas others explore religious minorities in particular regions, such as Central and Eastern Europe and Israel, or focus on particular themes, such as dissent in religious minorities. 

Required Learning Outcomes

Knowledge

The candidate:

  • has advanced knowledge of the core religious minority issues in modern history and worldwide today, and has in-depth knowledge of at least four different 'situations' of religious minorities in various global and historical contexts
  • has thorough knowledge of the historical, religious, philosophical and sociological roots of modern attitudes towards religious minorities and of religious-minority mentalities
  • can select and apply core concepts and theoretical approaches from the field of religious studies to original research
  • can analyze central ethical issues relevant to the relationship between religious minorities and their social surroundings and to social dynamics within religious minorities

Skills

The candidate:

  • can critically analyze and organize written and other sources of information, and formulate on this basis professionally academic arguments
  • can engage in critical discussion and peer review
  • can find and analyze relevant research sources, theories, and interpretations in the field of religious minorities to work in an independent manner practical and theoretical problems surrounding religious minorities
  • can select and apply appropriate research methods from the interdisciplinary field of religious studies to independently research religious minorities
  • can design and carry out an independent research project under supervision on a topic related to religious minorities in accordance with the ethical and professional standards of the academic community

Competences

The candidate:

  • can analyze and appraise relevant academic, professional and research ethical problems in regard to current and past minority issues and their political, historical and religious contexts in cross-cultural and international perspective, and in particular detect and challenge hidden and overt ideologies and stereotypes
  • can select and apply appropriate knowledge and skills about and relevant to the field of religious minorities to carry out advanced research and projects
  • can utilize the appropriate academic language and specific language and terminology of the field of minority studies in specific and religious studies in general, to communicate independent analyses of complex social, political, and religious issues
  • can communicate about academic and practical discussions and issues related to religious minorities worldwide with specialists and with the general public
  • can evaluate different academic, professional and research ethical positions, and contribute to new ways of thinking and handling sensitive real-life issues

Admission Requirements

1. Qualification requirements

  • 3-year bachelor degree or equivalent from an accredited university. Minimal grade average should be a 'C' or its equivalent.
  • Relevant work experience of two years (full time) or more. This work experience needs to be from the fields of media, policy, education, activism, social work, research, or similar fields.
  • English language proficiency
  • An outline of a proposed area or theme that could serve as a topic for your Master¿s thesis (400¿600 words in English).

2. Selection of candidates

Candidates who have fulfilled all qualification criteria and whose project outline fits into the program¿s aims and scope will be interviewed. In the interview the qualified candidate will discuss his or her personal motivation, academic curriculum of previous studies and work experience, project plans, and expectations of the program. Successful candidates will have demonstrated in the interview their motivation, and intellectual and academic capability to successfully engage with the study of religious minorities. The interviews will take the proposal (document #8) as its point of departure.

Recommended previous knowledge

None. For relevant work experience see the previous section on admissions. 

Compulsory units

Recommended electives

  • RELMIN645: Middle Eastern Churches in the 20th and 21st Century
  • RELMIN641: Buddhism in Contemporary India
  • RELMIN643: Religious Minorities in Israel
  • RELMIN640: Ethno-Religious Minorities in Central and Eastern Europe
  • RELMIN639: Latter-day Saints and Society in the West, c. 1830-1950
  • RELV360: Jews and Antisemitism in Modern Europe, 1789¿1945 
  • RELMIN636: Christianity in Contemporary China and India
  • RELMIN637: The Yezidis
  • RELMIN642: Dissent and Religious Minorities
  • RELMIN644: Sami History After 1751
  • RELMIN638: Teaching Religion and the Representation of Minorities

Sequential Requirements, courses

The curriculum¿s sequence of courses is based on the expectation that most students will start the program in the Autumn semester, while some will start first in the Spring semester. To ensure the appropriate development of individual curricula, only part-time students can enroll both semesters, whereas full-time students can enroll in the Autumn semester only.

First year students who start in the Fall begin with the 5 ECTS introductory courses `Discrimination Against Religious Minorities Worldwide¿ and `What is a Religion¿. The first is a general overview of religious minority issues worldwide, the second a theoretical introduction to religion. Full-time students will also take the 5 ECTS `Multiculturalism,¿ which explores the Western political and ideological background of what is studied in the `Discrimination¿ course, in their first semester, while part-time students can also opt to take it in their third semester.

In the second semester, all students will take the 10 ECTS `Religious Freedom,¿ an in-depth exploration of the concept of religious freedom. This course is designed in such a way that it can be taken without having taken yet the introductory courses of the Autumn semester. This means that it can also serve as the first course of students who enroll in the Spring semester.

Also in the second semester full-time students will take RELV 309, the methodology course that prepares them for their thesis, whereas part-time students will take RELV 309 in their third or fourth semesters, depending on in which semester they started the program.

After students have completed all mandatory courses and RELV 309, and this is a prerequisite, they can enroll in the master¿s project course.

The electives can be taken at any point throughout the program and therefore enable the students to be flexible in how they desire to build up their path through the program.

Full-time

Semester 1:

Semester 2

  • RELMIN646: Freedom of Religion
  • RELV309: Research Methods, Ethics and Project Design
  • 2 electives**

Semester 3

  • RELMIN650: Religious Minorities Master¿s Thesis

Part-time (50%)

Semester 1

  • RELMIN649: Discrimination Against Religious Minorities Worldwide
  • RELMIN648: What is a ¿Religion¿?
  • 1 elective*

Semester 2

Semester 3

Semester 4

  • RELV309: Research Methods, Ethics and Project Design
  • 1 Elective**

Semester 5-6

  • RELMIN650: Religious Minorities Master¿s Thesis

* Electives offered in the autumn: Buddhism in Contemporary India; Religious Minorities in Israel; Ethno-Religious Minorities in Central and Eastern Europe; Latter-day Saints and Society in the West, c. 1830-1950; Sami History after 1751. The individual electives are not taught every year.

** Electives offered in the Spring: RELV360: The Jews and Antisemitism in Modern Europe, 1789¿1945; Christianity in China and India (alternates yearly with Yezidis course); The Yezidis (alternates yearly with Christianity in the Japan and India course); Religious Minorities and Dissent; Teaching Religion and the Representation of Minorities, Middle Eastern Churches in the 20th and 21st Century. The individual electives are not taught every year.

Study period abroad

This online program has no study abroad component

Teaching and learning methods

Most of the teaching is asynchronous, which means that students will watch lectures, do the readings, and complete assignments independently, with several deadlines each week. There are also synchronous activities. The courses provide various forms of interaction and cooperation between students directly. Moreover, students will have live sessions with their supervisors and mentors.

Pedagogical tools are short and medium-length video presentations and interviews/conversations, texts, other audio-visual material, quizzes, essays, and comments by instructors. There are, in addition, tools that require students to take an active role in the learning process: discussion postings, short writing exercises, peer review assignments, annotation assignments, etc.

Assessment methods

Assessments that determine the course grade are research papers, as well as  

Essays of various lengths (500, 800, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000 words)

Report about individual contribution to team work writing project

video presentation (15, 20 minutes)

podcast/Powerpoint presentation with audio (5 minutes)

Manuscript of presentation

Research proposal for MA project

Master¿s thesis (15,000-20,000 words)

Oral examination

Home exam comprising of multiple-choice questions and mini-essay questions.

Grading scale

RELV309 (Research Methods, Ethics, and Project design is a pass/fail course.

All the other courses are assessed with letter grades (A-F) for gradable assignments.

Diploma and Diploma supplement

The Diploma will be issued when the degree is completed. The Diploma Supplement, the document enclosed to the Diploma to explain the Norwegian education and grading system that also includes a short description of the program in Bokmål, Nynorsk and English, will be written when the program is ready.

Access to further studies

Contingent on the specific requirements of individual institutions, graduates of the program will qualify for many international doctoral programs. For admission to a doctoral program at UiB, a 5 year master¿s degree is required. Qualified students with Norwegian language skills are required to transfer to the  Master¿s Programme in Study of Religions at UiB, where they need to complete an additional 20 ECTS of course work and write 60 ECTS thesis. 

Employability

  • The expertise as well as the training in rigorous academic thinking, research, and writing received in this program will automatically position graduates to better to advance in their professional careers such as NGOs and government positions where expertise of and skills related to minority issues are important.
  • The program positions its candidates better to advance in their present professions, such as Norwegian teachers,
  • The master's makes the candidates more attractive in the labor market, such as for instance in education and other segments of the public sector where diversity and religious minorities are important issues.
  • If the program's graduates further want to pursue an academic career and apply for other academic graduate programs, they have a master's that qualifies them for many PhD programs.
  • An additional advantage our graduates will have is that this program aids them, through the program's partnerships and academic networks, to develop a professional network. 

Evaluation

The Master¿s program will be evaluated regularly according to the procedures of quality assessment of the University of Bergen. 

Programme committee

The program committee for the study of religions. 

Administrative responsibility

The Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural studies and Religion (AHKR) have the administrative responsibility for the study program. 

Contact information

studierettleiar@ahkr.uib.no

advice@ahkr.uib.no