Areas for state exams


The State Final Examination in Religious Studies consists of two parts:

1) Master's thesis defence: During the defence, the student demonstrates knowledge of the subject under study and is able to answer questions of the thesis reviewers and members of the examination committee. The course of the defence consists of an introduction of the thesis, a brief presentation of the content of the reviews (two reviews are prepared in advance for each master's thesis, which the student receives in advance to allow time to prepare the defence) and the defence itself.

2) oral state final exam: consists of the following sections, such as the current state of research in the study of the history of religion, the current state of research in the history of religious studies, contemporary theories of religious studies, and contemporary methods of religious studies research. During the exam, the student presents answers to four questions drawn from a total of 40 state topics. After drawing them, he/she has time (20 minutes) to prepare his/her answers, after which the actual oral state examination begins, lasting about 45 minutes.

The total duration of the state final exam is about 60 minutes.

The student submits to the examination committee a list of religious studies literature read throughout the course of his/her studies (excluding the bibliography provided in the master's thesis).


The Current State of Research in the Study of the History of Religion

1) A selected problem in the study of the history of Christianity.

2) A selected problem in the study of the history of Judaism.

3) A selected problem in the study of the history of Islam.

4) A selected problem in the study of the history of Buddhism.

5) Religion in contemporary Czech society (D. Václavík, Z. Nešpor, D. Hamplová, D. Lužný, Z. Vojtíšek).


Current state of research in the history of religious studies

1) History of World Religious Studies from its origins to World War II (M. Stausberg).

2) History of World Religious Studies from World War II to the present (M. Stausberg).

3) History of cognitive research on religion (A. Geertz, I. Pyysiäinen, A. Chalupa, T. Bubík).

4) History of religious studies in selected European countries (G. Alles, T. Bubík, H. Hoffmann).

5) Contemporary Czech Religious Studies - research focus, implemented projects, selected scientific results.


Current Theories of Religious Studies

1) Ritualized behavior and hazard precaution system (Domains of ritualized behavior; Cultural rituals - Roy Rappaport; Main features of ritual; Pascal Boyer and Pierre Lienárd - Security Motion system, Precausion system, Swamping of working memory).

2) Research on memory and autobiographical narratives (Maurice Bloch and Connexionism; The Basic Division of Memory; Martin A. Autobiographical memory; False memories; Source monitoring error; Flash bulb memory).

3) Religion as an evolutionary adaptation or by-product of evolution? (Progressivist evolution; Darwinism; Adaptationism - 4 Tinberger questions; Religion as a by-product of evolution - exaptation (co-optation), preadaptation and spandrel.

4) Contemporary cognitive theories of religion: religion as "by product"; religiosity as an extension of emotional adaptations; religion as individual evolutionary adaptation; religion as group cultural evolutionary adaptation).

5) Embodied Cognition in Religion Research (The Concept of Embodied Cognition (Varea, Rosh, Thomson), Barrett & Keil: physical constraints on divine faculties; spatial perception and representations of divine hierarchy; embodiment and moral intuition; embodied rituals and community ties; limits of the body; meaning of purity).

6) Religion as an object of anthropological study (definition of anthropology of religion as a field of study, the question of classifications and conceptualization of religion in cultural anthropology, anthropological critique of the concept of religion, the category of "folk religion" and religious bricolage - Vincent Crapanzano, religion and postcolonial theory - Talal Asad).

7) Anthropology of the body and corporeality - religion and the body (the body as a symbol, the body and cosmology - Robert Hertz, the concept of pure and impure in relation to the body - Mary Douglas, techniques of the body and religion, religious discipline of the body, the body and ritual, asceticism, pilgrimage - Marcel Mauss, Pierre Bourdieu, Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault, Victor and Edith Turner, Mikhail Bakhtin, Nancy Scheper Hughes, Margaret Lock).

8) Sex, gender and religion (male and female roles in religion - Judith Butler, Morny Joy, Barbara Crandall, non-binary and transgender identities in religion, religion and birth control, the issue of abortion, gender segregation in religion, gender in field research on religiosity).

9) Religious specialists (shaman - shamanism - Åke Hultkrantz, Mircea Eliade, Michael Harner, Andrei Znamenski, Piers Vitebsky, priest, healer, sorcerer - witchcraft and magic - E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Bronislaw Malinowski, Stanley J. Tambiah, George Gmelch, oracle, prophet, anthropological conceptualizations of the roles of specialists in religion).

10) Myth and ritual (religious language, behaviour and action - Robert Segal, typology of rituals, ritualization, performance - Émile Durkheim, Arnold van Gennep, Victor Turner, Catherine Bell, Roy Rappaport, Talal Asad, Bruce Lincoln, William Cavanaugh, scapegoat - René Girard, Giorgio Agamben, religious violence - Maurice Bloch).

11) Religion, dying and death: anthropology of death (conceptualization of soul and spirit, animism, ancestors, funeral and funeral rituals, mourning - Robert J. Kastenbaum, Philippe Ariès, Jean-Claude Schmitt).

12) Religious change (adaptation, change, revival - anthropology of conversion - Andrew Buckser, Stephen D. Glazier, Kargo cults, hybridization and religion, the question of religious syncretism, neopaganism, conceptualization of religious change in cultural anthropology, the problem of tradition in religion, religion and consumerism, commodification of religion, religious tourism - Ellen Badone, Sharon R. Roseman, religion and pop culture).

13) The theory of secularization and its empirical evidence (Peter Berger, Steve Bruce, Karel Dobbelare, secularization as structural differentiation, secularization as privatization, public religion - José Casanova, individualization of religion - Ulrich Beck).

14) Theories of modernization, secularization and change of value orientations (Max Weber, Ronald Inglehard, Christian Welzel, World Values Survey, European Values Survey, silent revolution, postmaterialism).

15) Critique of secularization theory, post-secularism and postcolonialism in sociology (globalization, migration and transnational religious identity - Peggy Lewitt, transnational religion, religious nationalism and religiously motivated violence - Mark Juegensmayer, religion in public space, postcolonial sociology).

16) Theories of collective memory and empirical research (Maurice Halbwachs, Pierre Nora, Jan Assmann, cultural and communicative memory, memory and identity /collective and individual/, religion as a chain of memory - Danièle Hervieu-Léger, narrative templates - James Wertsch, materiality of collective memory).

17) Rational choice theory and religion (Rodney Stark, Roger Finke, Laurence Iannaccone, macro level and religious market, supply and demand side of the market, religious firms, demonopolization, rationality of action, micro level and individual choice).

18) Religious studies as a cultural science and critique of the concept of religion (T. Fitzgerald); discussion of reductionism in contemporary religious studies (R. Segal; E. Slingerland); contemporary reflections on the relationship between religious studies and theology (I. Gilhus; D. Wiebe).

19) Non-phenomenological conception of "sacredness" in terms of cultural anthropology and cognitive religious studies (V. Anttonen), biocultural theory of religion (A. Geertz); spatial theory and method in religious studies (K. Knott).

20) Contemporary reflections on theoretical approaches in the academic study of religion (T. Tweed; M. Stausberg and S. Engler).


Current methods of religious research

1) Typology of experimental research on religion (Standard paradigm, Indirect studies - by proxy, Authentic studies); Priming and replication crisis.

2) Physiological measurements in religious research: eye tracker, EEG, FMRi, etc.

3) Economic Games and the Study of Religion (Game Theory; Behavioral Game Theory; Prisoner's Dilemma, Social Dilemma, Trust Game, Ultimatum Game, Dictator Game, Public Good Game, Random Allocation Game).

4) Religion in contemporary Czech society - empirical research (EVH, ISSP, DIN, KODINA, public opinion surveys).

5) Methodology of quantitative sociological research on religion (quantitative research design, theoretical background and hypotheses, operationalization, baseline and sample, types of variables, statistical analyses, advantages and disadvantages of quantitative research).

6) Methodology of qualitative research on religion - qualitative research design, sampling, data generation and analysis, methods of document analysis, data coding options, advantages and disadvantages of qualitative research, examples of qualitative approaches (narrative research, biographical research, phenomenological approach, grounded theory, case study).

7) Methodology of field research on religion: observation and participant observation, interview - types of interviews, conducting interviews (individual, group), understanding interview (J. C. Kaufmann), method of ethnography, religionist in the role of ethnographer.

8) Principles of ethical work in religious studies - ethical and methodological problems of religious studies in their research activities for government and NGOs (P. Weller).

9) Types of scientific misconduct; Ethical issues in laboratory experiments; Examples of problematic research: the tea room trade (1970), Zimbardo's research (1971), Milgrem's research (1974).

10) Ethical Issues in Religious Research (Issue of Privacy; Informed Consent; Safety and Emotional Security; Concealment of Research Objectives and Circumstances; Researcher Reciprocity; Modern Codes of Ethics).