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Religious Studies: Islam in the Contemporary West

See the “More info” tab for an overview of the programme. The courses below are the courses which are specifically offered for this programme and compulsory.

Students are advised to contact their supervisor well before the start of their master year, so that a suitable programme can be put together in good time: Masterplanning

First year

The Leiden MA is a one-year programme and consists of 60 ec’s (European Credits). Every student will set up his or her individual programme under the guidance of the MA supervisor.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
General Required Course Religious Studies 5
MA Thesis Religious Studies 20

Specialisation courses:

Interpreting Islam: contemporary ijtihad in economics and biomedical ethics 5
Islamic Jurisprudence for Muslims in Europe: The Role of Fatwas 5
Piety, Modernity, and Gender in Islam: Anthropological Perspectives 5


Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Anthropology of Muslim Societies 10
Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies 10
Comparative Religion: Themes and Topics in the Study of Religion 5
Global Christianity: the Middle East (1800-present) 5
Ethics and Religion: War and Peace 5
Judaism in the Greco-Roman Period: The Jews in Roman Alexandria 5
Philosophy of Religion: Religion and the Natural Sciences 5
Sociology of Religion 5-10
Culture and Society in the Medieval Muslim World 10
Foundations of Early Christian Tradition 5
European policies and jurisprudence concerning Muslims and Islam 5
Gender and Religion: Engendering the Study of Judaism 5
Hellenistic Religions: The deconstruction and reconstruction of Gnosticism 5
Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 5
Psychology of Religion 5
Religion, art, and identity of Christian societies in the Middle East 10
Self-secularization or the adaptability of Christianity 5-10

Meer info

Prospective students of the program are advised to contact prof.dr. M.S. Berger,

This programme focuses on the study of both the historical, normative and the institutional sides of contemporary Islam as a minority religion within the secular context of the Western states. Legitimate subjects are, among others, the history of Muslim minorities in Western and Eastern Europe, the presently ongoing development of a new branche of Islamic jurisprudence called Fiqh al- Aqalliyyât, and the evolving political and legal views on Islam and the Muslims within the Western states.

The programme is interdisciplinary and makes use of the instruments of philology, history, and social sciences (especially of the anthropology, sociology and psychology of religion). It is based on the most recent results of the ongoing research of the development of Islam in the West. Students are expected to participate not only to the study of the features of Islam as a living religion witrhin the Western secular context in a general sense, but also to concentrate more specifically on the position of Muslims and the development of Islam within a certain geographic area.

Entry Requirements

BA Religious Studies, specialisation Islam or BA Islamic Theology

Staff and supervision

The primary supervisors of the track are:

Prof.dr. mr. M.S. Berger, personal website

Dr. N.M. Dessing, personal website

Dr. M.M.M.I. Ghaly, personal website

Dr. U. Ryad, personal website

MA Islamic Theology

Students with an interest in a more philological/ theological approach towards Islam in Europe might opt for admission to the Islamic Theology programme.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. M.S. Berger, email:

Programme Structure

1. Common Course (5 EC)

2. Compulsory Courses (15 EC)

  • Course focused on contemporary approaches and discussions in the comparative study of religion oriented around an anually changing theme, for example the function of dress and bodycare in various religious traditions

  • Course on the phenomenon of conversion to Islam in the West. Central question is what kind of general theories and typologies are available to us that help us explain contemporary developments in the conversion of Islam?

3. Additional Courses (20 EC)
For example from the master programme Islamic Theology and the Islamic Studies programme at the Faculty of Arts

4. MA thesis (20 EC)