nl en

Religious Studies: Religion, Science and Ethics: Philosophical Approaches

See the “Information” tab for an overview of the programme. The courses below are the courses which are specifically offered for this programme, but they are not necessarily compulsory. More information: prof.dr. Willem B. Drees, or dr. Rico Sneller,

First year

Compulsory for all students Religious Students:
1st semester: Workshop Endnote – Master Religious Studies – Wednesday, Ocotber 6, 17.00-19.00 hr, location: library hall.
2nd semester: Workshop ‘Paper Clinics’: date and location to be announced.

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

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Ethics and Religion: Questioning Life and Death 5
Philosophy of Religion: Religion and the Natural Sciences 5
Required General Course Religious Studies 5
Working group Kairos 5

Elective courses

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Christianity in the Middle East (1800-present) 5
Comparative Religion: Themes and Topics in the Study of Religion 5
Hellenistic Religions: The deconstruction and reconstruction of Gnosticism 5
Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 5
Psychology of Religion 5
Religion and the immigrant experience 5
Sociology of Religion 5
The Courage To Be Modern: Religious Liberalisms 1850-1950 5
The Halakhic Process: Studies in Jewish Biomedical Law 5
Translating God(s): Islam and Christianity in Southeast Europe 10

Meer info

Information for: 2010-2011


Religions have an intellectual dimension, as beliefs about the world and moral convictions. These can be studied from an insiders perspective (systematic theology, religious ethics) but also with more intellectual distance. One can focus on the internal coherence of religious beliefs and moral convictions, but also on their interaction with other knowledge and practices. In this track we study the interplay of religious beliefs and practices with the natural sciences, philosophy, and secular culture. Alongside the engagement with religious and moral convictions there are also more general questions about the nature of religious and moral convictions, the methods we use to study and reflect upon religion, and the nature of ‘secular societies’. In this area, reflections are also shaped by other disciplines in philosophy and cultural studies, such as philosophy of science and philosophical ethics. Among the topics that currently have our particular interest are interactions of religions and the natural sciences, the impact of technology and environmental problems on religions, comparative issues and religious pluralism, the secular study of religion, and religious ethics, absolutism and fanaticism (the idea of the absolute good).

Programme Structure

This one-year programme consists of 60 ECs (European Credits). The programme structure is printed below. The student’s individual programme is to be put together with the supervisor.

1. Common Course (5 EC)
General Required Course for all master students at the Institute for Religious Studies

2. Compulsory Courses (15 EC)

  • Ethics and Religion: Questioning Life and Death (5 ec; 1st semester)

  • Philosophy of Religion: Religion and the Natural Sciences (5 ec; 1st semester)

  • Literature seminar Kairos, two semesters, supplemented with literature study (5 ec; year long)

3. Elective Courses (20 EC)
Electives can be chosen to suit the particular interests of the student; to be decided in consultation with the supervising faculty. Among the options from which a choice can be made are

  • master course on the social scientific study of religion (Ter Borg c.s.)

  • master course on comparative religious studies (De Jong, Hofstee);

  • master course on a particular religious tradition (Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.);

  • master courses offered by the Faculty of Philosophy.

  • individual supervised study;

4. MA thesis (20 EC)
The thesis can be developed under the supervision of one of the core faculty. The topic, within the area indicated above, is decided in consultation with the supervisor; it can be adapted to suit the interests and needs of the student. A typical master thesis in this area tends to be reflective or constructive, rather than empirical or historical. While drawing upon primary and secondary sources a student is expected to analyze a particular issue, controversy, or position, with the aspiration to offer an intellectually viable reconstruction and critique.

Entry Requirements

In addition to the general rules for admission to the master programme Religious Studies, students are expected to have basic knowledge of philosophy of religion and ethics by having had bachelor level courses in ethics and in philosophy of religion, or other courses in philosophy.


Students are advised to contact dr. H.W. Sneller or prof.dr. W.B. Drees well before the start of their master year, so that a suitable programme can be put together in good time.

Prof.dr. Willem B. Drees,
Dr. Rico Sneller,