Lower scores are given to essays that show little or no knowledge of the topic, that are full of misconceptions that would have been resolved by even cursory study, or that reflect only a confessional perspective, catechetical formation, or basic factual knowledge of the kind that might be obtained from world religions textbooks or encyclopedia articles.
Essays submitted in world religions should show familiarity with the existing literature and with scholarly methods appropriate to the specific research question being addressed. The use of primary sources, especially sacred texts, should reflect at least a basic sensitivity to problems of analysis and interpretation. Naive readings of religious texts receive lower scores than those that are informed by an understanding of historical-critical, source-critical, and literary-critical or other relevant issues. The same is true for the interpretation of survey or interview material, observations of religious rituals or even theological texts, which must not be treated naively as representative or authoritative.
The concern is not just with what the followers of a faith believe and do, but also with an understanding of why they do so, through an appreciation of the form of life and world outlook that they constitute. The result of writing an essay in world religions should be, among other things, improved intercultural understanding.
There are some interesting topics that you can write on. Instead of going for the obvious stance, choose the opposite to make your essay unique. Back your point with real life situations or cases if possible. There is a lot that can be explored.
World religions comprises a systematic. critical, yet sensitive study of the variety of beliefs, values and practices encountered in religions around the world. A rigorous attempt is made to maintain objectivity in the analysis and evaluation of religions. This requires, at the very least, an authentic attempt to understand the beliefs, values and practices of the religion being studied by using language and concepts drawn from that religious tradition. Essays that are primarily a defence or critique of the beliefs, values and practices of a particular religious tradition, or that explain or evaluate religious phenomena from the standpoint of another religious tradition or of a secularist ideology, are unacceptable.
This criterion relates to the extent to which the essay conforms to academic standards about the way in which research papers should be presented. The presentation of essays that omit a bibliography or that do not give references for quotations is deemed unacceptable (level 0). Essays that omit one of the required elements--title page, table of contents, page numbers—are deemed no better than satisfactory (maximum level 2), while essays that omit two of them are deemed poor at best (maximum level 1). In applying this criterion, attention should be paid to standards for citing sources and other evidence used by scholars in the discipline using comparable methods of investigation and the particular religious tradition studied. Sacred texts are, for example, generally cited differently to other sources (for example, chapter and verse rather than page numbers). The Koran and Buddhist sutras are cited differently to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Other forms of evidence—ethnographic observations, survey research or in-depth interviews—should be cited in a manner standard for the discipline.
The introduction should situate the research question in the context of existing research in the discipline of world religions (including the specific sub-discipline in which the topic of the essay is located). The student's personal experience or particular opinion is rarely relevant here.
Although the aim of the essay can best be defined in the form of a question, it may also be presented as a statement or proposition for discussion. The research question must be appropriate to the particular subject in which the essay is submitted. In world religions, this means that it must in some way address the beliefs, values and practices of one or more religious traditions, and show some understanding of world religions as a discipline. Questions that, by their very nature, require a defence or critique of the beliefs, values or practices of a particular religious tradition, or that properly belong in another discipline because the issues being addressed are scientific, legal or political, receive a score of zero.
Students should be aware that few religious traditions are monolithic, and so naïve analyses of "Christianity" or "Buddhism" are unlikely to attain the depth necessary for an excellent extended essay. Students should be as specific as possible about exactly what they are studying.
and, on the other, a manifestation of sensitive and objective analysis. It is important to understand that different religions do not always pose competing answers to the same questions, but actually pose different questions, making comparative approaches difficult at best. Should the student or the supervisor have any doubts aboutthe student's abilityto meet these criteria,a comparative study should be avoided. Comparison in religious studies means the comparing of ideas or practices, not the making of value judgments such as "Buddhist meditation is more effective than Christian prayer".
Supervisors should make sure that students have at least a basic grasp of the scholarly methods needed to interpret primary sources—for example, literary, source and historical-critical approaches to sacred texts, formal and iconographic analysis of visual images, various approaches to the interpretation of rituals. While it is understood that students are just beginning their study of world religions and are not expected to have a complete mastery of methodological issues, essays that contain naive analyses and interpretations that reflect no training, and could have been prepared without any formal study, will not receive high scores.
Students are encouraged to use both primary and secondary sources. Secondary sources should be consulted in order to locate the topic being studied within a broader context, and to gain an understanding of various methods of investigation, analysis, interpretation and argument. The best essays generally test these established positions against primary sources or data collected for the extended essay.
The first step in preparing an extended essay is to formulate a well-defined research question. Essays that pose a question that might reasonably be answered in different ways are generally better than those that simply discuss a topic, even one within the limits defined above. The best research questions are those that indicate familiarity with existing research and with the larger concerns of the discipline.