Comprehensive Requirement

While courses in the major are intended to introduce students to a range of religious traditions and to orient students to a variety of approaches by which scholars study religion, the comprehensive project gives students the opportunity to select a research topic of particular interest to them and to pursue that topic in much greater depth than course work allows. Work on the comprehensive project will further cultivate and assess the skills that ground the discipline: critical reading, research and methodological abilities, analytical thinking, creativity and inventiveness, and effective writing and oral communication.

In the spring semester of their junior year, students will meet with Religious Studies faculty to talk about potential topics and about preliminary research they will conduct over the summer. In the fall semester of their senior year, students enroll in RELS 490, which guides students through the research and drafting of the project and which provides students with feedback on work in progress. Although there is no class associated with the comprehensive project in the spring semester, students are expected to continue to revise and polish their papers until the due date. Also in the spring semester, students will present their research orally to the campus community.

Once the comprehensive projects are submitted, the Religious Studies faculty assess the papers and oral presentations, awarding them one of the following marks: Pass with Distinction (PD) is awarded to exceptionally sophisticated work that surpasses the departmental standards, Pass (P) is awarded to work that meets departmental standards, and Fail (F) for work that fails to satisfy departmental standards.