SOAS University of London

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

Judaism: Foundation

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 2

This course provides a basic introduction to Judaism for those with no or little previous knowledge of the subject. It will present a historical overview of the most important periods of Jewish history and explore key aspects of Jewish religious practice and belief. It will introduce students to the pluralistic ways of Jewish identity formation in antiquity as well as in modern times. The significance of the family and the community in religious practice, the development of the synagogue, prayer and the festival cycle, the significance of the Torah and Halakhah, as well as Antisemitism, Zionism, and Israel-Diaspora relations will be discussed.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

To become familiarized with key aspects of:

  • Jewish religion and religious practice.
  • Jewish history, with special emphasis on Judaism and Judaic literature.
  • Jewish thought, philosophy, and mysticism.
  • Divisions and movements within Judaism today.

To gain awareness of:

  • The importance of Judaism within the context of world religions.
  • Issues confronting Judaism in the modern world,
  • Academic approaches to Judaism in the field of Jewish Studies.
  • To read and appreciate samples of Jewish religious texts, in English translation.

Method of assessment

  • One essay (2,500 words) (40%)
  • One 2 hour exam (60%)

Suggested reading

  • Solomon, Norman (2000) Judaism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • De Lange, Nicholas (2003) Judaism, 2nd edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules