Why is religious controversial?

Essay 1
Part 1:
Write an essay of no more than 1500 words in answer to the following question:

In the ‘Introduction’ to Book 1 Newman argues that the preservation of the legacy of the controversial figures in Book 1 owes ‘more to

the needs of their followers […] than to historical accuracy’ (Newman, 2013, p. v). Why is this significant for the scholarly study of

religion?

Guidance notes:
Part 1

Part 1 is worth 75 per cent of the marks for this assignment. In this part, you will explore Edwina Newman’s statement, in the

‘Introduction’ to Book 1, concerning the ways in which followers remember significant controversial figures and their activities. You

have been asked to analyse why this is important for the scholarly study of religion so you will need to make sure that the points you

make in your essay address this question throughout. Think about the following: is it possible to isolate these figures from the

responses people make to them?; what do followers need from these figures and why do scholars of religion need to be aware of these

issues? Make sure you provide evidence for the argument you make. You should be able to construct a coherent answer to the question

using only the study materials for Book 1 but you are encouraged to make use of the suggestions for further reading and any other

independent research you have done on the figures in Book 1.

You will find it useful to begin by reading the ‘Introduction’ to Book 1 again in order to remind yourself of some of the issues around

writing historical biographies of religious figures. You are more likely to get goods marks if you base your examples on two or three

of the figures. You must answer the question set and not simply submit an essay that includes relevant information but does not address

the question head on. In particular, please note that you have not been asked here to describe the lives of any of the four figures but

to use what devotees and detractors claim is known about their lives to think about how we can study them.

Part 2:
Part 2

Imagine that you have been asked to write an essay on Jonestown and the People’s Temple. Conduct a preparatory search for the following

useful sources:

one academic, peer reviewed, journal article
one book
one newspaper article.
Construct a correctly formatted bibliography of the sources you have chosen and write a short explanation of why and how you selected

these particular sources. You should write no more than 300 words (excluding the bibliography).

Guidance notes:
Part 2 is worth 25 per cent of the marks for this assignment. It develops your key skills of finding and critically evaluating

information sources for authority and/or bias, using the PROMPT criteria, and presenting work in an accurate and appropriate style.

PROMPT is a structured approach to the critical evaluation of information. PROMPT stands for Provenance, Relevance, Objectivity,

Method, Presentation and Timeliness. For further information on the use of these categories for the evaluation of your sources, see the

Evaluate information page on the OU Library website.

Please note that you have 300 words in addition to the bibliography for this part. (Bibliographies, as well as assignment titles, are

not included in the word count of any assignment.) You will find detailed help, and a worked example for a task very similar to Part 2,

in the Assessment Guide, Section 3, ‘Searching for appropriate additional resources’. Note that a book review may help you select a

book but a book review is not a book and neither is it a journal article. Also, an entry in an Encyclopedia does not count as a book.

You do not have to restrict yourself to the Open University Library when you search for your book.

Essay 2:
Carefully read one of the following texts:

Either:

a.Shaw, Alison (2002) ‘Why might young British Muslims support the Taliban?’, Anthropology Today, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 5–8 [Online].

Available via the OU Library Website.
Or:

b.Tarlo, Emma (2007) ‘Hijab in London: Metamorphosis, Resonance and Effects’, Journal of Material Culture, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 131–156

[Online]. Available via the OU Library Website.
In an essay of no more than 1500 words, identify the key arguments of this text, discuss the way the arguments are developed, and

relate these arguments to what you have learned in Book 2.

At the end, append a list of at least three bullet points indicating the main ways in which you think your chosen text relates to what

you have learned in Book 2. (Please note that the bullet points will not count towards the 1500 words for Part 1.)

Guidance notes:
Part 1

Part 1 requires you to read one of the texts carefully and understand the arguments it is making. You need to identify the key

arguments of this article, discuss the way they are developed and relate them to what you have learned in Book 2. So, while either

Shaw’s (2002) or Tarlo’s (2007) article needs to be your focal point, your discussion of the arguments presented in either of these

articles needs to draw on relevant aspects of your wider learning from the chapters in Book 2 and their associated readings. The list

of bullet points that you have been asked to add should form the basis of your spoken presentation for Part 2.

Essay 3
Part 1

Write an essay of no more than 2000 words in answer to one of the following questions.

Either:

a.How does the God Hypothesis construct religion?

Or:

b.Critically assess Pascal Boyer’s cognitive theory of religion.

Guidance notes:

Part 1

Part 1 is worth 75 per cent of your mark. You should choose to answer either Option (a) or Option (b). You should make it clear which

option you have chosen by writing the question in full at the head of your essay. Part 1 provides an important opportunity for you to

demonstrate your evidence-based critical reasoning and essay writing skills. You will need to strike a balance in your essay between

demonstrating a good grasp of the arguments and issues, and the selection of relevant examples for more sustained analysis. Avoid

hyperbole or one-sided argument. What is important from the marker’s point of view is that you provide evidence-based arguments in

which you demonstrate a critical understanding of scholarly perspectives as well as competence in your referencing skills. You must use

appropriate independent study sources in this essay.

You can use the independent study suggestions for Book 3 and/or sources you have located separately.

Module materials are:

the items we send you, i.e. the four module books
the items we require you to read (e.g. the Module Guide and any Readings or audio visual sources listed under ‘Materials you will need’

at the start of each chapter).
Independent study sources are:

the ‘Independent study suggestions’ associated with each chapter
sources such as journal articles or books you find yourself and which are not mentioned in the chapters or Readings
sections of books or lengthy journal articles that may be mentioned in the module materials but are not discussed there.
So, for example, if you were to develop a discussion of new atheism, Book 3, Chapter 2, the four films and recordings listed under

‘Materials you will need’ and Reading 1, the Latour essay from Science, Religion, and the Human Experience would not count as

independent sources. Other chapters from the Latour volume would count as independent sources. Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion would

count as an independent study source if you used arguments or examples in that book that are not discussed by the author of A332 Book 3

Chapter 2, but it would not count as an independent study source if you referred only to the discussion of that volume in Book 3,

Chapter 2.

This distinction between module materials and independent study sources applies throughout A332.

Option (a)

Your starting point in preparation for this essay should be Chapter 2 of Book 3 where the God Hypothesis is discussed. You should go to

Section 2.3 in the first instance, but you will need to engage with the chapter as a whole in addition to any further reading you need

to pursue. The question assumes that embedded within Dawkins’ notion of the God Hypothesis is a particular understanding of religion as

an explanation of the world that implicitly rivals the explanations pursued by science. The question demands interrogation of the

manner in which Dawkins positions religion and science through the exploration of other, rival theories.

Option (b)

Your starting point in preparation for this essay should be Chapter 3 of Book 3, where cognitive theories of religion are discussed.

You should consult Section 3.2 in the first instance, but you will need to engage with the chapter as a whole, in addition to the

further reading you need to pursue. The question requires a close engagement with Boyer’s work. Boyer’s theory will need

contextualisation both with rival cognitive theories and in terms of broader debates about method in Religious Studies. Critiques of

Boyer’s work will also need to be explored.

Part 2:

Part 2
Write a 250-word commentary for each of three independent study sources you have used in your Part 1 essay. You should explain why you

chose each source to support the argument in your essay. You should write no more than 750 words in total

Guidance notes:
Part 2

Part 2 is worth 25 per cent of your mark for this assignment. It requires you to comment on three sources which you have used in your

Part 1 essay and which go beyond the module materials.

Using a scholarly database such as the OU Library website will be the sensible place to search for your independent study sources. For

this task, we require you to organise your commentary about each of your three sources using PROMPT as a guide. PROMPT is a structured

approach to the critical evaluation of information. PROMPT stands for Provenance, Relevance, Objectivity, Method, Presentation and

Timeliness. For further information on the use of these categories for the evaluation of your sources see the Evaluate information page

on the OU Library website. The kinds of questions you will need to ask of each source will include where it comes from, its suitability

for your topic, its balance, the approach or methodology it takes, how the information is presented and how up-to-date it is (although

just because a publication is recent does not mean it is ‘better’ than something older). Note that you are not expected to address each

of the PROMPT categories equally. Although you are likely to refer to most, if not all, of the categories for each of your selected

sources, you will probably find that the amount you write for each category will vary according to the source.
This is a double-weighted TMA and you should answer both parts of the assignment.

For these essays, you will need to books provided by the open university and the open university library to access journals and

independent studies to access these click the link below:

Book1:
https://learn2.open.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/1512221/mod_resource/content/1/ebook_a332_book1_e1i1_n9781780074054_l3.pdf

Book 2:
https://learn2.open.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/1512222/mod_resource/content/1/ebook_a332_book2_controversial-

practices_e1i1_n9781780074061_l3.pdf

Book3:
https://learn2.open.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/1512223/mod_resource/content/4/ebook_a332_book3_e1i1_n9781780074078_l3.pdf

Library:
http://www.open.ac.uk/library/

Or

http://pmt-eu.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo_library/libweb/action/search.do;jsessionid=A64A23E2F3869F87646F224830F98634?

vid=44OPN_VU1&dscnt=0&dstmp=1454241627386&fromLogin=true

For essay 3 you will need to use independent studies (not only the module books) link is here for independent studies

https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=722940

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