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Free course

Why not ‘World Religions’?

Free statement of participation on completion
Why not ‘World Religions’?

The idea that there are five or six ‘major’ or ‘world’ religions is so common that it seems natural to us today. What makes something a ‘World Religion’? Why do we group some religions in this way? You’ll explore these questions in this free course. You’ll also look at the potential issues with classifying religions like this and why scholars are increasingly moving away from talking about ‘World Religions’.

Interested in taking your learning further? You might find it helpful to explore the Open University’s Religious Studies courses and qualifications.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • identify some different ways in which religion can be understood
  • understand the historical reasons behind classifying some traditional religions as World Religions
  • describe the contemporary consequences of how religions are classified.

First Published: 23/06/2022

Updated: 23/06/2022

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