Religious Studies

Religious Studies is the attempt to understand the beliefs and practices of humanity and how these impact on our lives and the lives of others. A knowledge and understanding of religion is essential in order to grasp our musical, artistic, legal, literary and philosophical traditions. We live in a religiously diverse country in an increasingly diverse world. We need to understand our neighbours – what they believe and why they do so and what they are led to do – locally, nationally and internationally.The majority of people on the planet subscribe to a religious tradition or faith. These beliefs and practices motivate people to kill and to heal, to include and exclude others, to love and to hate, and to produce sublime, inspired art, music and literature.

Students talk about Religious Studies courses

The Religious Studies programme asks question such as what do you believe? Why do religions persist, grow and decline? Is religion the cause of terrorism and war? Do religions have a role to play in the 21st century? Are the gods the invention of humanity or vice versa?


Religious Studies staff teach and research on beliefs and practices and the relationship between religion and conflict, religion and peacemaking, religion and resource inequalities and development, religion and the meaning of death, religion, morality and ethics, and religion and its role in our evolutionary history.


At Victoria the 100-level Religious Studies courses introduce students to the major religious traditions and the role of religion in the contemporary world.The religious traditions of the West (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and of Asia (India, China, Tibet, and Japan) are explored. They also consider the relationship of politics and law to religion; as well as spiritual and religious experience through trance, meditation, prayer and ritual.

200-level courses focus on themes, methods, and larger comparative questions in the study of religion, including salvation, evil, death, spirituality, community, identity, politics and religion, the psychology of religion, religion and ecology, and religious texts.

From here, the 300-level courses pursue the study of particular traditions in greater depth: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, religions of India, religion in Aotearoa and the Pacific.

The above links take you through to courses being taught this year only. For a full list of Religious Studies courses please click here.


Religious Studies staff, postgraduate students, and research affiliates engage in a wide range of exciting, world-class research, often with the support of major international funding. The Religious Studies Programme is also the centre of a range of conferences and research seminars. You can read more about our extensive research activities here.


The Religious Studies Programme hosts a regular research seminar series during termtime, and also regularly hosts larger workshops and research conferences. Read more about our seminars here.

Impact and reach

Victoria University of Wellington research in the Huffington Post: Prejudice decreases, and tolerance increases, with faith. Read more here.

Religious Studies careers

Religious Studies gives graduates a range of marketable skills, and our students go on to careers in a range of professions. Read more about post-graduation work prospects here.