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Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First Semester

Tools and Theories in the Study of Religion: Historical, Cognitive, and Social-Scientific Approaches 10
Confronting modernity 10

Electives, choose electives with a maximum of 10 ec

Sharia in the West 5
Sacred Journeys: Pilgrimage and Holy Places 5
Psychology of Religion 5
Rethinking Secularism in International Relations 10

Second Semester

Religion on the Move: From Local Origins to Global Networks 10
Thesis Seminar and Job Market Orientation (Religious Studies) 5
Ma Thesis Religious studies 15

More info


The aim of the master's in Religious Studies is to familiarise you with:

  • the most important current debates on method and theory in the academic study of religion – amongst others the literary, historical, cognitive, and social scientific approache

  • the repercussions of the Enlightenment and modernity for the religious field, and the subsequent development of new forms of religion;

  • the mutual impact of globalisation and religion, including the revision and transformation of (self-) understandings of religions and their practices, and the development of new religions due to global contacts, colonialism, and secularisation.

The acquisition of advanced academic skills in the interpretation of texts, the analysis and solution of conceptual problems, the ability to conduct scientific research and the effective communication of ideas are other key goals of the programme. Opportunities are provided for students to gain professional experience by participating in an internship at an organisation.

For a more detailed overview of the programme's objectives see the Course and Exam Regulations of the Programme

The objectives regarding general academic skills can be found in the Course and Exam Regulations of the Faculty


The master’s programme in Religious Studies consists of two semesters, each consisting of 30 EC. In the first semester students follow two obligatory courses of 10 EC each. Next two the obligatory courses you can choose 2 out of 4 electives of 5 EC each, or, with Board of Examiners consent: internship, independent study.

In the second semester students take one more obligatory 10 EC course and write their MA-Thesis (20 EC).

Mode of Study
Full-time and part-time

Master thesis and requirements for graduation
In order to graduate, students must successfully complete the 60 EC programme including their MA-Thesis as a component of that programme. The thesis carries 20 EC, and as a rule should not exceed a maximum of 20,000 words including notes, bibliography and appendices. More details on the procedures regarding the MA-Thesis can be found in the course description.

Career Preparation

Career Preparation in the master Religious Studies

The programme

How can you use this knowledge and the skills that you acquire? What skills do you already have, and what further skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses that you choose into something that you’d like to do after graduation?
These questions and more will be discussed at various times during your study programme. You may already have spoken about them with your study coordinator, the Humanities Career Service or other students, or made use of the Leiden University Career Zone. Many different activities are organised to help you reflect on your own wishes and options, and give you the chance to explore the job market. All these activities are focused on the questions: ‘What can I do?’, ‘What do I want?’ and ‘How do I achieve my goals?’.


You will be notified via the Faculty website, your study programme website and email about further activities in the area of job market preparation. The following activities will help you to thoroughly explore your options, so we advise you to take careful note of them:

Transferable skills

Future employers are interested not only in the subject-related knowledge that you acquired during your study programme, but also in the ‘transferable skills’. These include cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, reasoning and argumentation and innovation; intrapersonal skills, such as flexibility, initiative, appreciating diversity and metacognition; and interpersonal skills, such as communication, accountability and conflict resolution. In short, they are skills that all professionals need in order to perform well.
It is therefore important that during your study programme you not only acquire as much knowledge as possible about your subject, but also are aware of the skills you have gained and the further skills you still want to learn. The course descriptions in the e-Prospectus of Religious Studies include, in addition to the courses’ learning objectives, a list of the skills that they aim to develop.
The skills you may encounter in the various courses are:

  • Research

  • Self-directed learning

  • Creative thinking

  • Collaboration

  • Persuasion

Courses of Religious Studies

Courses of the study programme obviously help to prepare you for the job market. As a study programme, we aim to cover this topic either directly or less directly in each semester. Within Religious Studies, this takes place within the following course:


If you have any questions about career choices, whether in your studies or on the job market, you are welcome to make an appointment with the career adviser of the the Humanities Career Service.