Comparative Religion
Religious Studies 302
Saint Martin's College
Term Paper Requirements
and Suggestions


Saint Martin's College 
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Department of Religious Studies 
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An appropriate topic for a course in Comparative Religion needs to fit in with the methods of study of religion used in the course, but with that in mind, the topics chosen can be wide-ranging. The recommended approach to finding a topic is to begin with a selection from Eastman, The Ways of Religion, that interests you, and use that selection to identify a topic to work on.  You may need to find some aspect of the selection you've chosen as your starting point.  For example, you could choose "Jewish Mystical Tales" on pp. 318 ff. as a starting point and write a paper on the role of story in Jewish mystical piety.  Or you could choose "Male and Female in Islamic Perspective" on pp. 435 as a starting point and write a paper on different views of the role of women in Islam.  And so on.  Please note that the point of the paper is not to rehash the selection from Eastman, but to use it as a starting point for research and writing around a narrower point suggested by reading the selection.

Avoid topics that are too general (for example, "Buddhism"), and seek things for which you can find sufficient information to write a paper. If your topic seems to be too broad and likely to lead to a superficial paper, look for ways to narrow it down in order to achieve better focus and depth.

The paper needs to be eight to ten pages long double-spaced, and I recommend at least five sources other than class textbooks and general works of reference. Sources may be either books, sections of books, or articles. They may include one or two Internet sites, but should be predominantly from books or journals. The student is responsible for judging the value of her or his sources. While the student may use a system of documentation with which she or he is comfortable, the paper must have a bibliography or list of works cited, and it must document the source of quotations and ideas taken from others either through parenthetical documentation or footnotes. Documentation should include the page or pages in the source from which the information, idea, or quotation is taken. The paper should have a thesis that the student seeks to demonstrate, following appropriate approaches to writing research papers as taught in college writing courses, and it should be polished and proofread.

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