Religion has been central to human history and the diversity of civilisations and remains a formative and pervasive aspect of human culture and experience. The need to understand religion has never been more pressing than it is today, and at the University of Cape Town we are concerned with studying all aspects of religion, particularly in contemporary African society.
Religious Studies takes as its subject all religions and their interaction with other aspects of life, intellectual, political and artistic. It is essentially pluralistic: committed to no particular faith but endeavouring to understand each religion in its own terms, using the tools of textual, historical, sociological and philosophical analysis.
Religion has been studied at the University of Cape Town since 1967. Grown from humble beginnings, the Department today is home to four journals, three Institutes, and has consistently maintained a post-graduate enrolment of around 70 students. The Department has made important contributions to South African society, including playing a central role in designing a new curriculum for religious education in schools.
Graduates from our department have gone on to make significant contributions to South Africa’s social and political transformation, among them Philip Dexter, formerly Executive Director of NEDLAC; N. Barney Pityana, Vice-Chancellor of UNISA; Darrel Wratten, founder and director of the Consumer Information Agency (CIA); Jannie Hofmeyer, Founder and Director of Research Surveys; and Ruben Richards, head of the Scorpions Unit in the Western Cape.
The Department of Religious Studies is located in Room 5.40, Leslie Social Science Building at the heart of the University's Upper Campus.