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Thesis Seminar and Job Market Orientation (Religious Studies)


Admission requirements

  1. Students must complete at least one of the two required courses before completing the Thesis Seminar and Job Market Orientation course: Tools and Theories in the Study of Religion: Historical, Cognitive, and Social Scientific Approaches; or Religion on the Move: From Local Origins to Global Networks.

  2. To write an MA thesis in the second semester, students must be simultaneously enrolled the MA Thesis and Job Market Seminar during the second semester. To write a MA thesis in the following fall semester, students must have successfully completed the respective seminar in the spring semester before writing their thesis.


The course MA Thesis Seminar and Job Market Orientation consists of two modules.

  1. The module Thesis Seminar supports the thesis writing process. It consists of six sessions in which we discuss how to formulate a good research question, how to manage the work process, and how to structure the argument of the thesis. The module also includes an advanced library workshop.

  2. The module Job Market Orientation offers students an overview of the job and career prospects of religious studies alumni and stimulates students to reflect on their own skills and ambitions. It consists of three class sessions and two job market workshops which include Religious Studies alumni. Students workshop ideas about their academic skills and virtues, professional trajectories, their C.V.s, their cover letters, their “elevator pitches,” their interview skills, their job offer negotiation skills, their reasoning for getting a PhD and their professional social media profiles while also sharing their job/internship search experiences with their colleagues

Course objectives

Knowledge, insight, and content-bound skills

After successfully completing the MA Thesis Seminar and Job Market Orientation,

  • students can identify and describe the academic skills and virtues that the MA Religious Studies aims to confer;

  • students have an overview of the job and career prospects of religious studies alumni;

  • students have demonstrated their ability to formulate a research problem regarding a chosen topic, to set up a research design employing the most suitable methods and theories from the study-of-religion toolbox, and to carry out and report on their research according to the standards of the study of religion.

Transferable skills

After successfully completing the MA Thesis Seminar and Job Market Orientation,

  • students can identify and describe the academic skills and virtues they themselves possess;

  • students can set goals for their own professionalization and actively work towards realizing those goals;

  • students are confident with all aspects of the organization of a workshop (e.g., formulation of relevant program, contact with external speakers, booking and catering, advertising among the target group).


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighed average of four marks:

  1. Academic skills and virtues portfolio (two self-assessments): 25%
  2. Thesis seminar portfolio (thesis idea; analysis of sample article, chapter-by-chapter outline and in class presentation): 25%
  3. Job Market Portfolio (C.V., Cover letter, elevator pitch, social networking professional website creation): 25%
  4. Class Participation: 25%

In the final portfolios handed in at the end of the course, students should integrate the instructor’s comments and suggestions into their self-assessment, thesis outline, cover letter, C.V. and elevator pitch.
Specifically, thesis seminar-related materials will be evaluated as academic writing and should indicate the student’s progression in the thesis writing process. The in-class presentation should introduce the instructor and the class to the main takeaways of the thesis and methods employed during research.
Materials related to the job market portfolio will be evaluated in professional terms (Is the writing in the cover letter clear and geared towards obtaining a specific job? Is the C.V. easy to read and does it capture the education and experience of the student? Is the elevator pitch usable and does it introduce the student in an engaging way?). Students can ask specific questions about instructor comments or get more clarification during individual mentoring sessions or during office hours.


Please take note of the following: The final mark is determined as the weighed average of the four marks. To pass the course, students must obtain at least a sufficient mark (5.5) as the weighed average of the four marks.


Students who score an insufficient mark for one of the Job Market assignments (Academic Skills and Virtues Portfolio, Thesis Seminar Portfolio and Job Market Portfolio) may retake the assignment by submitting a new version of the assignment. For the purposes of the resit, the two self-assessments can be combined into one larger two-page reflection on their academic skills and virtues.

Students who score an insufficient mark on “Class Participation” can resit this portion of the class by turning in a substitute written assignment. Students should be in touch with the lecturer to determine the topic of the substitute written assignment.

Inspection and Feedback

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

  1. Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. FitzGerald, The Craft of Research, fourth edition. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 2016.
  2. Articles/assignments uploaded to Brightspace.


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



Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).

Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.