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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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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.

Iman in Islam: faith and practice in Islamic religion

5 March 2020 | Luke Burns

In the 49th Surah of the Qur’an, an important distinction is made between belief and practice; Muhammad is instructed to correct those who claim they are believers, instead pointing out they have submitted to Allah’s will. The bedouins say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], ‘We have submitted,’ for faith has not yet entered your hearts. And if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you from your deeds of anything.

Karma-Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita

30 December 2019 | Luke Burns

One of the significant texts for Hindus is the Bhagavad Gita, itself part of a larger work - the Mahabharata, which tells the story of a conflict between two groups within the same family, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The Bhagavad Gita takes place just before this conflict becomes violent, with both armies facing each other, and Arjuna (a Pandava) having second thoughts about the ethical difficulties the battle represents.