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Martha G. Newman, Chair BUR 529, Mailcode A3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-7737

Areas of Concentration


Religion in Asia

Students within this concentration develop their primary expertise either in religions of South Asia (with an emphasis on the pre-modern period) or in religions of contemporary Japan. Students are also expected to take courses in the other area and to develop a general knowledge about Asian religions. Rather than focusing on particular religious traditions in isolation (Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, or the like) students in both areas study various religious expressions in particular cultural and historical contexts, their interactions and conflicts, and their political and economic backgrounds. Students must acquire the language skills needed for reading primary sources or conducting field work in their individual field of expertise. Graduates will be able to relate their own area of interest to the study of religion in general, and will be trained to apply the methods and theories of Religious Studies.


Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean

This concentration area deals with the character and interactions of the ancient religious traditions of the Mediterranean, including Ancient Israel and its neighbors, Greco-Roman culture, ancient Judaism, and early Christianity. Students will develop primary expertise in one of the areas of specialization listed below; they will also do significant work in two of the others. There will be a strong emphasis on mastery of the requisite languages and on a range of appropriate methodologies. In addition, all students will receive training in archaeological analysis so that they can deal with the literature and the material culture of these traditions. The chronological span is from the Ancient Near Eastern to the Hellenistic period and from the Hellenistic-Roman to the Late Antique period.


Religion in the Americas

This concentration trains students in the religious histories of the Americas in order to prepare them for professional careers in Religious Studies. The curriculum is designed to serve a variety of student intellectual interests and research methodologies. Students are expected to pursue an interdisciplinary research program within one of the geographical fields of Latin America and the Caribbean or North America, develop teaching competency in the other geographical field, and work within two additional historical and/or theoretical fields, one of which may be outside of Religious Studies. 


Religion in Europe & the Middle East

Graduates from this area of concentration will develop expertise in the history of the religious traditions of Europe and the Middle East, the interactions between these religious traditions, and the historical and cultural contexts within which these religions are embedded. The concentration emphasizes religious traditions of the pre-modern period; students interested in modern issues are encouraged to look at the Transnational concentration as well. Students will focus their scholarship on one of three areas: Jewish Studies, Classical Islam, or the History of Christianity, but will also develop a minor field in at least one of these other areas. They will have the skills in languages and the research techniques necessary for their scholarship. Graduates will be able to relate their own area of interest to the study of religion in general, and will be trained to apply the methods and theories of Religious Studies.


Transregional & Comparative Studies in Religion

This specialization allows students to focus on research topics that either compare religious traditions or trace the flow of people, ideas, things, or practices across geographical regions. The Program in Transregional and Comparative Studies of Religion provides a course of study for students who want to frame their work primarily in terms of themes or theories rather than traditions or regions. There will be a strong emphasis on mastery of the requisite languages and on acquiring appropriate research methodologies. Graduates of this concentration will normally have fulfilled the requirements of one of the other (geographical) areas of concentration as well. They will have knowledge of the relevant theories and methodological approaches as well as an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts in which their studies are embedded. 

Graduate Coordinator:

Jessica Cochran
BUR 406
(512) 232-7737
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