Religion Studies has been taught at the Faculty of Theology and Religion since its inception. Together with Philosophy of Religion, it formed part of the original group of subjects which were presented from 1917. The first lecturer was Rev E Macmillan (Presbyterian).
The Department (along with the Faculty) divided into two ecclesiastical parts in 1938, namely the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika and the Nederduitsch Gereformeerde Kerk (later “NG Kerk”).
Science of Missiology has been taught since 1938, when Prof DJ Keet (NG church historian) included the history of mission in church history’s curriculum. He also taught the subject Science of Missiology on an unofficial basis to students with an interest in missions since 1949.
In 1953 the department was renamed “Science of Religion and Missiology”, and in 2018 "Religion Studies".
In 2000 the two ecclesiastical divisions were united again. The lecturers in the recombined Department were Profs PJ van der Merwe (head of Hervormd), PGJ Meiring (NG) and JJ Kritzinger (NG).
Prof JJ Kritzinger retired at the end of 2002 and Prof PGJ Meiring at the end of 2006. Prof PJ van der Merwe retired in 2009.
The Department is privileged to have the well-known and renowned researcher Dr AS (Attie) van Niekerk as part-time lecturer and Director of Iswen.
Iswen stands for Institute for Missiological and Ecumenical Research. It is linked to this Department and oversees, initiates and manages research in the field of science of missiology (and related fields) across a wide spectrum. Various research fellows also work in that field.