THL242 New Religious Movements, Cults and Sects (8)

This subject introduces beliefs and identifying characteristics of various new religious movements, cults and sects. It also explores major religious, social, legal and ethical issues raised by the presence of such groups within the Australian context. In particular, this subject examines responses to new religious movements, cults and sects from churches, the media and government, welfare and police agencies.

Subject Outlines
Current CSU students can view Subject Outlines for recent sessions. Please note that Subject Outlines and assessment tasks are updated each session.


* Offering has a residential school. Please view following information for further details.

Session 2 (60)
Online *
Canberra Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: THL242. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Theology

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to discuss critically and accurately the beliefs, character and activities of new religious movements
  • be able to discuss issues surrounding the definition and use of the term 'cult'
  • be able to evaluate the role and rights of new religious movements within a pluralist democratic society
  • demonstrate an understanding of the mind control/brainwashing debate
  • be able to discuss critically the role of the media in the public perception and response to new religious movements
  • be able to give a preliminary account of issues of law raised by new religious movements
  • be able to evaluate community and individual responses to new religious movements
  • demonstrate selfguided learning, including research, writing and communication skills


This subject will cover the following topics:

- Beliefs, identifying characteristics and activities of new religious movements - Analysis of theological, mind-control and sociological definitions of cults - Major theories concerning the attraction and character of the membership and leadership of new religious movements, cults and sects - The role and definition of religion in light of new religious movements, cults and sects - Sources of information about and engagement with new religious movements - Responses of churches, the media, government, welfare and police agencies - The role and use of the internet - An analysis of the anti-cult movement - The debate surrounding mind control and brainwashing - The role of the media - Case studies

Residential School

This subject contains a 3 day Optional Residential School.This residential school provides students with the opportunity of engaging with the subject matter in an intensive manner in a group setting. Activitives include lectures, tutorial presentations, and library research.


Current Students

For any enquiries about subject selection or course structure please contact Student Central or or phone on 1800 275 278.

Prospective Students

For further information about Charles Sturt University, or this course offering, please contact info.csu on 1800 275 278 (free call within Australia) or enquire online.

The information contained in the 2018 CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: August 2018. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.