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Religion on the Move: From Local Origins to Global Networks


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Religious Studies programme. If students outside of this programme are interested in taking this course, please contact the instructors.


While all students of the MA Religious Studies programme select a specialised pathway, this core course provides a graduate-level introduction to the interdisciplinary study of religion in relation to development across time (historical perspective), across places, spaces and contexts (such as different area studies’ perspectives), as well as within (trans)regional and (inter)national systems (politics and governance perspective).

At its heart, Religion on the Move is a study of how religion more generally has changed due to increasingly expanding global encounters. By combining research from religious studies, history, area studies, anthropology, sociology, and political science, this course shows that the complex processes of globalisation, modernisation, and migration have not only contributed to the movement and expansion of religions, but that religions have been crucial in constructing and confronting these processes. We will consider the success and/or failure of religions in relation to how they move and adapt, and how this relationship corresponds to the iterative process of moving between local origins and global networks. In this context, we will examine the various ways in which religions have adapted when up-rooted and re-rooted in new contexts.

For the Autumn 2023 semester, the course is led by an anthropologist (Dr. Williams), who specialises in African religions, migration, and global Christianity, and a historian (Dr. Cramsey), who specialises in Judaism, Diaspora Studies, and modern east central European history. Case studies will focus on Pentecostalism, Evangelicalism, American politics, religious superdiversity and Dutch society, Judaism, the relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the Netherlands and throughout historical time, as well as the development of “new” religions in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Course objectives

Each student who completes the course will:

  • Develop interdisciplinary insight into the development of religions across time, diverse contexts, and within (trans)regional and (inter)national systems by combining research from religious studies, history, area studies, anthropology, sociology, and political science.

  • Develop comparative insight into the ways in which religions have moved and interacted historically—through migration, mission, expansion, pilgrimage, or syncretism/appropriation—and are currently moving and interacting in a globalising world.

  • Develop a factual understanding of primary concepts and theories related to globalisation, modernisation, and migration.

  • Be able to discern some major patterns in the success or failure of religions– especially as these relate to issues of globalisation, modernisation, and migration.

Transferable Skills

  • Develop the highest level of academic communication skills – both oral and written.

  • Gain critical interdisciplinary skills through an analysis of complex global patterns using historical, ethnographical, sociological, and political science data and comparing the data with prominent concepts and theories.

  • Gain practical research skills such as locating and collecting existing research and working with primary data.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Seminar. Attendance and participation are mandatory. Scheduled classes may be missed no more than three times and only in exceptional circumstances (at the discretion of the instructors and only with prior notice). Absence without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam and a failing grade for the course.

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

Practical Exercise: leading and moderating of a session: 0%
Final Paper: 75%
Oral Presentation: 25%

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the above:

NOTE 1: As a part of the assessment students are required to assist with leading and moderating one of the seminar sessions. This is a practical exercise that is graded as either pass/fail and is not included in the final mark. Passing this element is, however,  a pre-requisite for being allowed to write the final paper. Only the papers of those students who pass this exercise will be graded.

NOTE 2: in order to pass the course, students must receive a passing grade (5.5 or above) on both the Final Paper and Oral Presentation.


Resit is possible for both the Final Paper (75%) and the Oral Presentation (25%), if you passed the practical exercise. For the Final Paper, students are able to submit a resit version within 10 days of receiving the mark and feedback. For those who fail to submit the Final Paper by the original deadline, students are given 10 days from the original deadline to submit (this is considered a resit version with no chance for an additional resit). For the Oral Presentation, students are given the opportunity of giving a resit presentation in front of the instructors. This resit presentation must be scheduled with the instructors within 10 days of the original presentation date.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

This course uses an extensive number of journal articles, book chapters, and primary source material. A list of materials will be made available on Brightspace prior to the start of the course.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory. General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Exchange students having questions regarding registration, may contact the Humanities International Office.