Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

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Unit Overview


Arguably, religion and development are inseparable because the ways people use land, distribute resources, and envision a good life are shaped by their broader views of the cosmos and their place within it. Since the axial age, moreover, religious traditions have addressed themselves to problems of injustice and inequality emergent in complex urban societies. Until recently, however, development studies has been an unabashedly secular field. In this unit, students query the secularity of modern ideologies of development, and examine the theories and practices of development embedded in major and minor religious traditions. They also examine the re-engagement between secular institutions focused on development and what have come to be known as 'faith-based organisations' (FBOs) and are often envisioned as better vehicles for service delivery than state institutions. In research essays and analytical essays, students apply theories of religion and development to bear on specific case studies drawn from Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. In written and oral work, students examine the role of religion in development, considering the convergence and conflict between secular and spiritual means and ends.

6 points
Not available in 2024UWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) critically evaluate the conflicts and convergences among religious and secular approaches to development; (2) apply theories of religion and development to case studies; (3) discuss approaches to development and wellbeing in religious traditions; and (4) improve written and oral communication skills.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) an essay; (2) an analytical exercise; (3) an examination; and (4) participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Debra McDougall
Unit rules
Advisable prior study
BP001 Bachelor of Arts (major in Anthropology and Sociology, Political Science, History)
Contact hours
seminars: 20 hours

The following texts are indicative only:

Barnett, M. N. and Stein, J. G., eds Sacred Aid: Faith and Humanitarianism: OUP 2012

Benthall, J. and Bellion-Jourdan, J., eds The Charitable Crescent: Politics of Aid in the Muslim World: I. B. Tauris 2003

Clarke, M., ed. Handbook of Research on Development and Religion: Edger Elkin 2013

Marshall, K. Global Institutions of Religion: Ancient Movers, Modern Shakers: Routledge 2013

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.