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Religion and Law


Admission requirements

This Master course is open to a maximum of 30 students. This course can be taken by students who are admitted to any Master in Social Sciences, Humanities or Law, and who have a very good knowledge of English (reading and speaking - writing may be done in French and Dutch). Knowledge of either law or religious studies is no requirement.


This course will challenge many commonly held notions and assumptions regarding the relation between Religion and Law. The course is intensive, as there are weekly assignments. There are no exams: the grades of the assignments make up the final grade.
Religion and Law are usually perceived as mutually excluding systems, whereby either legal systems regulate religion (as is the case in most countries today), or a religious system has incorporated law (as in a so-called theocracy). However, there is more of an interactive dynamic between the two than meets the eye. To start with: if Law and Religion are studied as normative systems, what exactly makes the two so different? And when so many states claim that Law and Religion are separate realms, how is it that we see so much overlap between the two in so many states in ever so many forms?
To answer these and many other questions, this course will do the following. First, the student will be introduced to the Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Judaic legal-religious systems; to a number of issues like secularism, blasphemy, and religious freedom and tolerance; and to various theoretical concepts like natural law and morality.
Second, the student will get acquainted with some of today's practices of the interaction of religion and law by evaluating the situation in a selection of countries, and by participating in role-play discussions based on real-life cases.
The course will make use of multiple written sources, ranging from texts written by prominent thinkers to policy documents and court cases. As superficial reading will not be sufficient to understand these texts, the student is expected to really study them. In addition, the student is expected to conduct his/her own research when writing essays or preparing for discussions.
The weekly assignments consist of multiple choice tests, short papers ('Essays'), preparatory notes for discussions ('Discussion notes') and the participation in role-play discussions ('Discussions')

Course objectives

The students will gain insight in how the relation between law and religion has been shaped throughout the ages, and in how it is being applied today. The students will acquire the skills to read and discuss relevant court rulings and policy documents in a critical fashion, to contextualize these readings in a larger academic theoretical framework, and to present the results of independent research in terms of policy briefs or oral advice to government officials or Muslim community officials. The students are encouraged to develop and express their personal views on the various topics in a well-founded and coherent manner.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Lectures will be either taught in class, or as pre-recorded video lectures.
Seminars (role playing, discussions, etc) will be in class.

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

The final grade will consist of:

  • 40%: short Essays

  • 10%: MC tests of lectures and literature

  • 25%: role-play Discussions

  • 25%: Discussion notes


When a Resit is needed, this will be discussed with the instructor.

Reading list

Will be made avalaible on Brightspace.


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.