IRFL30100 Popular religion and belief

Academic Year 2022/2023

This course examines expressions of popular or vernacular religion and associated practices which exist apart from, but alongside, the strictly theological and liturgical forms of official religion. Ideas, beliefs and narratives about the Christian supernatural as well as supernatural beings outside of (but often influenced by) the Christian pantheon, will be discussed, as well as fairy belief and legends. Possible explanatory frameworks for folk belief in the supernatural, and the relationship between belief and narrative creativity, will also be examined. The course examines a wide range of verbal genres, including apocryphal stories about Christ and the saints, humorous anecdotes about religion, fairy legends, religious laments, prayers, and charms. A variety of traditional practices associated with folk religion and belief are also dealt with.

Students will need a laptop and Wifi connection to participate fully in this module.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the module, the student will be able to: 1. Define and discuss what is meant by folk belief and popular/vernacular religion. 2. Examine theoretical approaches to the study of these genres of tradition. 3. Illustrate a familiarity with a variety of traditional religious practices and narratives. Illustrate a familiarity with belief legends about various supernatural beings and forces. 4. Discuss the relationship between narrative genre and belief. 5. Identify and evaluate possible explanatory frameworks for a number of popular folk beliefs and religious practices.

Indicative Module Content:

Popular religion, folk prayers, folk charms, lives of the saints, tales of the holy family, religious practice and belief found in the everyday

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Teaching in the module is geared towards the promotion of a spirit of enquiry among students and towards encouraging them to develop a reflective approach to their studies. Teaching is carried out in lectures. Assessment takes the form of two in-semester essays and a written examination. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: 1200 word assignment Week 11 n/a Graded No


Essay: 1200 word assignment Week 6 n/a Graded No


Examination: Online examination 2 hour End of Trimester Exam Yes Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Name Role
Ms Aoiffe Kenny Tutor