SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Religions of Africa: Foundation

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 1

The course provides a regional overview of religions in Africa (including the role of indigenous religions, Islam and Christianity) as a foundation for more detailed study of these religious traditions later in the degree.

  • It comprises a brief introduction to the religions of the region, including their historical development, interactions, commonalities and distinctive features.
  • Key issues raised in the study of the religions of Africa will be identified, as well as a review of the current situation and future prospects of African religions, including their spread and adaptation in the West and elsewhere.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of the course, a student will:

  • have acquired a foundation-level knowledge and understanding of the distinctive and common features, past and present, of the religious traditions of Africa and of the connections and relationships between these traditions
  • be aware of some of the important issues and debates arising in the study of the religious of Africa
  • be able to find and use books, journals and other sources of information relevant to topics studied in this course

Method of assessment

  • One 2500 word essay (50%)
  • 2-hour exam (50%)

Suggested reading

  • Blakely, Thomas D., van Beek, Walter E.A., Thomson, Dennis L. (eds.) (1994) Religion in Africa: Experience and Expression, London: James Currey.
  • Ray, B C (1976) African Religions, Symbol, Ritual and Community, London: Prentice-Hall.
  • Zahan, Dominique (1979) The Religion, Spirituality and Thought of Traditional Africa Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Zuesse, Evan M. (1979) Ritual Cosmos: The Sanctification of Life in African Religions Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules