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About the OCRS

Established in 2016, the Online Centre for Religious Studies aims to promote and facilitate the academic study of religion for a wide and diverse audience.

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Study religion online

Our courses will take you from the basics of what a religion is (or isn't!), right through to a detailed exploration of the key faiths alive today.

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Free resources

Download free digital resources for personal use, or to assist in the classroom.

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Is Religious Education out of Date?

18 August 2021 | Luke Burns

The National Secular Society has recently published a piece by Keith Sharpe, in which he argues that it’s time to move on from Religious Education. Sharpe’s argument is centred on the ambiguity and lack of purpose that accompany Religious Education in the current period. He makes a number of points, which I have summarised below. 1. RE has always been a vehicle for communicating cultural values. Rather than a distinct area of learning as with other curriculum subjects like maths, history or physics, religious education has always been a form of socialisation, a process through which children are inducted into a national identity based on societal norms, values and beliefs.

Life on Other Worlds

14 September 2020 | Luke Burns

The existence of life in the upper atmosphere of Venus has potentially been demonstrated today by the publication of data and analysis by the Royal Astronomical Society. But what does it mean that microbes, perhaps not too dissimilar from those found on Earth, have (probably) been discovered on our sister planet? A discovery of phosphine gas indicates that either a completely unknown form of chemistry is taking place, or - tantalisingly - life exists beyond the Earth.

What Makes a Place Sacred?

13 April 2020 | Luke Burns

To claim that a location, structure, or geographical feature is ‘sacred’ is to assert that it is ‘set apart and regarded with special reverence’ (Wolffe, 2017(a), p.213), but there are many ways to understand this sacrality, where it comes from, and how it is expressed by different groups of people. The term sacred has a strong religious association, and usually means that something serves a religious function, or holds importance for people by virtue of its religious associations.