Religion in Contemporary Global Politics I

Modular value: 20 credits
Duration: Term 1
Teaching: 2 hours per week

Lecturer: Jagbir Jhutti-Johal

This module provides students with an advanced level understanding of the theoretical and conceptual debates about the role of religion in contemporary global politics. Traditionally the study of political science and international relations has framed the understanding of religion within the context of secularisation and the nation-state. This interpretation is being increasingly contested by the impact of globalisation and the rise of anti-secular movements.

The module will critically examine the secularisation thesis as applied to the ‘West’ (developed countries) and the ‘East’ (underdeveloped countries) and evaluate the impact of globalisation on collective religious identities.  

Following an introduction to the theoretical perspectives the course will focus on three particular themes: 

  • Religious Nationalism
    What explains the rise of religious nationalism in South Asia (India, Pakistan and Afghanistan) and militant Islam Middle-East? How do we account for the decline of ‘secular’ nationalism in developing countries?
  • Religious Identities and Mobilisation
    Are religious identities easier to politically mobilise than non-religious identities? How can we explain the success of the religious right in the US? 
  • Religious Transnationalism
    Religious identities play a significant role in the politics of transnational groups. How has globalisation impacted on religious transnationalism?

The module concludes by reflecting on the wider implications for the study of politics and international relations of organised religious movements today.

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • understand critically the role of religion in contemporary global politics
  • demonstrate a competence in the theoretical, conceptual and methodological approaches to the study of the relationship between politics and religion today
  • able to explain the rise of the religious right and militant religious nationalisms in the developed and developing world
  • evaluate, assess and reflect on the long-term implications for politics and international relations of organised religious movements


  • One assessed essay of 5-6000 words at the end of the module (100%).

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