About the Program
Designated Emphasis Requirements
Only students enrolled in Ph.D. programs at the University of California, Berkeley are eligible to apply for the DESR. Students are required to be admitted to the DE before taking the Qualifying Examination. To qualify for the Designated Emphasis, the student must have on the Qualifying Examination committee a representative of the DESR; and one of the members of the student’s dissertation committee must represent the DESR and be a member of the DE’s designated faculty. These faculty members may be outside or inside members of the student’s committees.
DESR students are required to take four courses. Three of these courses (STRELIG 200, 201, 202) comprise the core curriculum, and one is an elective (STRELIG 203) selected from a list of courses offered by the DESR faculty.
STRELIG 200. Methods in the Study of Religion
Methods in the Study of Religion is an introduction to methodological best practices in the Study of Religion from the perspectives of different fields. It is made up of multiple modules that combine the study of primary sources with exemplary methodological approaches. These approaches include but are not limited to: anthropological theories of religion and society, historical genealogies of categories of religion and the secular, theology and Church history, sociological approaches to issues like religious organization and conflict, religion and science, religious literature and Biblical hermeneutics, as well as particular religious histories.
STRELIG 201. Histories of the Study of Religion
Histories of the Study of Religion is an introduction to the history and development of the field of “Religious Studies” as an intellectual space for the study of a sometimes historicized, sometimes naturalized phenomenon called “religion.” Since the narration of any history of the study of religion serves to circumscribing a particular set of phenomena as “religious,” this course does not isolate a canonical history of the field. Instead, it progresses in roughly diachronic manner, through a number of thematic threads representing the development of different domains of the study of religion.
STRELIG 202. Local Approaches to the Study of Religion
Local Approaches to the Study of Religion is intended to create a space for students to reflect on the issues involved in the application of critical and theoretical approaches. This course asks students to consider the opportunities and benefits of two approaches to the beliefs and practices connected with a particular set of traditions: first, as studied in their historical and cultural specificity, versus second, as described as the instantiation of a universal religious phenomenon such as the “sacred” aspect of human experience. The course is intended for students to reflect on the issues involved in the application of critical and theoretical approaches such as the multidisciplinary ones introduced in Methods of the Study of Religion, and the examples from Religious Studies surveyed in Local Approaches to the Study of Religion. Looking closely at a case study of the application of both of these kinds of approaches to a particular subfield prepares the student for the methodological challenges of applying the term “religion” in their own field.
STRELIG 203. Study of Religion Elective
Additionally, students must complete one elective course from a list of pre-approved graduate courses on religion. In some instances, students may petition for other, relevant courses to be counted towards their elective requirement. If a course is offered for variable units, students must enroll at the maximum possible unit value. Potential elective courses will vary depending on faculty teaching plans in a given semester.
Upon successful completion of the dissertation, the student’s transcript will include the designation: “Ph.D. in [major] with a Designated Emphasis in the Study of Religion.” This designation certifies that they have participated in, and successfully completed, a Designated Emphasis in the Study of Religion in addition to all departmental requirements for the doctorate.
Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion
440 Stephens Hall, MC 2340