A Complete Student’s Guide to Religious Studies Essays

Writing guide
Posted on January 30, 2019

Religious studies is a popular college class. While religious studies classes are not usually required, taking one of these classes can be an eye-opening experience. Learning about other religions can help students to better understand the culture and values of the religious group members. Occasionally religious studies can also be a high school elective class. For the sake of this article, we will use tips and examples that are suitable for both college and high school religious studies essays.

Religious Studies Essays: What’s Behind Them

There are four basic types of essays that can be used in high school or college classes: narratives, descriptive essays, expository essays, and persuasive essays. Essays are usually based on a student’s opinion and backed up with facts. Each type of essay can be used in religious studies classes. Let’s take a look at how.

The first of these essays are narrative essays. Narrative essays tell a story, usually based on a student’s life. Descriptive language, the use of adjectives and dialogue, helps to make the story more vivid. For this type of essay to be used in a religious studies class, a student could write about their experience with their religion or with people who follow other religions. However, when writing these kinds of essays, it is important to not be derogatory towards people of other religions.

Descriptive essays are exactly what they sound like. They involve writing about a person, place, or thing in extreme detail. In these essays, it important to use adjectives. This type of essay is best when you are discussing religious figures or religious artwork. These types of essays are likely to work best as a part of a religious studies essay, rather than the whole essay.

Expository essays are concerned with the facts and nothing but the facts. This type of essay is great for religious studies classes when you need to write about historical events, rather than topics based on opinions. While writing these essays, it is best to avoid putting any bias in your paper, as this may make your essay seem less reliable.

The last major type of essay is a persuasive essay. With this type of essay, you want your audience to agree with your argument. To do this, you will need to back up your opinion with facts. Make sure to use reliable sources when you do this. One way this could be used in religious studies classes is to write about an opinion you have on a religious matter and explain why your opinion is right by using facts

How to Choose the Most Interesting Religious Essay Topics

Picking a topic for a religious studies paper can be difficult, especially since religious studies classes often cover a variety of subjects. Below are some topic suggestions with ideas on how to use them in your essay. These topic ideas will work for either Christian religious studies classes or world religion classes. We have put listed at least one topic for every major world religion. Feel free to use any of these topics for your own essay, just make sure to cite your source!

    1. Paul brought Christianity to Europe, but he made many changes to the teachings (compared to what Jesus taught). Were these changes for the better or worse?Paul never met Jesus, but he had a dream in which Jesus spoke to him. He often disagreed with Jesus’s apostles who had known him in life. Does Paul’s dream give him the authority to make changes to Christianity or should he have left the teachings of the church to Jesus’s primary disciples?
    2. The Five Pillars of Islam help to guide the Muslim faith. How do these pillars compare and contrast to the virtues of other major world religions? Muslims are often prejudged in today’s society. Is there anything in their pillars that make them “look bad” or are the pillars all positive? How do the pillars affect the way Muslim people should act? Are the pillars similar to virtues in other religions? Discuss.
    3. There are four noble truths (four central beliefs) in Buddhism. Are these truths still expressed in Buddhism today? Are they also shown in other religions?Buddhism is an Eastern religion that is practiced in many Asian countries. However, there are several branches/sects of Buddhism. Do all of the branches follow the four noble truths? If so, do they have anything else in common? If not, what are the other branch’s values?
    4. Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest religions. Discuss the changes that have occurred in the religion over the years. Are these changes good or bad?Over the centuries, Hinduism is sure to have gone through some changes. How have these changes affected Hindu people? What were some of the primary beliefs of the religion centuries ago and what are they now?
    5. There are several Jewish holidays each year. Describe one of these holidays and their significance to the Jewish faith.
      Some of the most important holidays in Judaism include Hanukkah and Passover. Describe one of these holidays or another prominent Jewish holiday. Write about the history of the holiday and how it is celebrated today. This could make a great expository essay.

Writing Tips from Our Experts

Now that we’ve discussed some of the types of essays there are and some of the topics that would work well for a religious studies essay, let’s discuss how to actually write the essay. Follow some of the tips below to learn how to organize your paper, write the various parts of the paper, and to learn some editing skills.


The more research and organizing you do before you write a paper, the less time you will have to waste by looking for sources and trying to cure a writer’s block while you are actually writing. There are two basic ways to do this.

The first way to save time on your paper is to write an outline for your paper. Outlines are helpful for all sorts of written documents. This includes essays, term papers, and even this very article! This can help you to avoid writer’s block because you will have all of your ideas written out before you even begin writing your essay. When you don’t have to stop to think of new ideas, your writing can flow! You can use this link to be redirected to an essay outline worksheet. This worksheet gives step-by-step instructions to help write an outline.

Another thing you can do to make things easier on yourself is to do all of your research and take notes before you even begin writing your paper. Make sure to write down your sources or type up your works cited to save even more time. The more notes you take, the less time you will have to spend rereading your sources later. While this will take up some more time before you start writing your paper, it will save you time in the long-run. One good place to find scholarly sources for your essay is to search by using Google Scholar.

Essay Writing: The Importance of Structuring

Of course, writing the actual essay is the most important part. There are five basic elements that need to be included in every essay. In this section, we will go over how each of these sections can be applied effectively in your essay.

  • Introduction;
  • Thesis Statement;
  • Body Paragraphs;
  • Conclusion;
  • Reference/Works Cited Page.

Let’s look at writing an introduction and a thesis statement, as a thesis statement is always a part of the introduction, often as the last sentence in the paragraph. A thesis statement is a one-sentence-long part of the induction that describes what your main argument is and what points you are going to use to support it. An example a thesis statement you could use for a religious studies class is below.

‘The Virgin Mary is an important figurehead in many Christian sects, but women are not always treated fairly in the religion; this essay will discuss the factors, including the role of women in and outside of the physical church.’

To make this into a complete introduction, simply add on a few more sentences (before the thesis statement) to further explain what your essay will discuss. An introduction is usually around four sentences long, with the thesis statement being the main component of the introduction. Keep this in mind as you write your introduction.

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs will make up the bulk of the essay. Most essays in both high school and college classes contain at least three body paragraphs. These paragraphs each have a specific structure that should be followed.

The first sentence should work to introduce the main point of the body paragraph. The next two or three sentences should be focused on evidence to support your main point! Make sure to cite your sources! The last paragraph should be a short summary (conclusion) to wrap up the paragraph.


The conclusion is actually very similar to the introduction. It is only one paragraph long. Instead of introducing the main points of the paper, you are summing up what you already wrote. In this paragraph, make sure to restate your thesis statement and your main points. Once you do this, your paper is almost done!

Reference Page

A reference page is a vital part of any essay! If you skip this section, you may very well fail your entire paper. This is because if you do not cite your sources, then you can be accused of plagiarism. You are most likely to be required to use MLA or APA formatting with your sources. To learn how to use these citations styles (and more), you can click on this link. The site can also teach you how to use internal sources, which are just as important to have as the sources listed in your reference page.

Post-Writing Tips You Can’t Ignore

When scheduling time to work on your essay, make sure that you make time for editing your paper. While many students skip this step, editing is the key to improving your overall essay grade. There are a few things that you should always check for when you are editing your essay: spelling and grammar mistakes, accidental plagiarism, and awkward sentence structure. Let’s take a look at how to improve each of these parts of your essay.

Whether you are writing your essay in a Word document, in Google Docs, or in a third-party writing program, you are likely to have some sort of grammar and spelling checking system build into the program. While these programs can catch a lot of mistakes, they miss out on a few key features. That’s why it is best to always look over your paper again, or run it through another spelling/grammar checker, like Grammarly. Doing this can help you catch simple mistakes before your teacher does.

Next, make sure that you have not accidentally plagiarized. To do this, you will want to make sure that all of your sources are cited both internally and in a Works Cited page. Read over your paper to make sure you have done this. If after doing this you are still worried, run your paper through a plagiarism checker. One great plagiarism checker for students is Turnitin, which provides free trials of their service.

Lastly, look for sentences that just don’t sound right. One of the best ways to do this is to read your paper out loud. Sometimes, when you read in your head, you may skip over awkward lines. Reading out loud can help you to more easily catch these mistakes. You can also have a friend look over your paper, as they might catch something that you didn’t.

Well, we hope that these tips can help you to write your religious studies paper. Make sure to check out some of the sources we’ve outlined in this article for additional help. If you follow our tips, you are almost guaranteed to get a passing grade on your essay. Good luck!

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