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MA Thesis Religious studies


Admission requirements

Only students who are enrolled in the MA Religious Studies are eligible for the Thesis Religious Studies.

Students can only begin writing a thesis if they in the same semester follow the course Thesis Seminar and Job Market Orientation (Religious Studies).

As a rule of thumb, students should have completed at least 20 EC of their MA when starting on their MA Thesis.


All master students write a master thesis of 15 EC. This thesis amounts to min. 13.000 – max. 15.000 words, including footnotes and bibliography. The master thesis is written in English, unless the supervisor and the Board of Examiners approve of the use of another language (which may include Dutch). In all languages, correct use of grammar and style is expected from the student.

Students make their preferred choice of topic and supervisor known to the instructor of the MA Thesis Seminar at the beginning of the semester. The instructor of the MA Thesis Seminar may advise a change of topic and/or supervisor, and sees to it that the requests of all students are presented to the Board of Examiners. The Board of Examiners formally appoint a supervisor and a second reader for each thesis. If the preferred supervisor is not available, the Board of Examiners may appoint another supervisor.

Further instructions about the MA thesis are offered in the course MA Thesis Seminar and Job Market Orientation.

Course objectives

Knowledge, insight, and content-bound skills

After successfully completing the MA Thesis and the MA Thesis Seminar,

  • students have gained a solid overview of a self-chosen topic of considerable scope within the study of religion; and

  • students have demonstrated their ability to formulate a research problem regarding the 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 and the MA Thesis Seminar,

  • students have demonstrated their ability to integrate knowledge and handle complexity, to draw conclusions concerning the reliability of information provided by available sources, and to offer suggestions for further research;

  • students have demonstrated their ability to communicate conclusions of their research, as well as the knowledge and rational underpinning of these conclusions, clearly and unambiguously, in written, academic English;

  • students have refined their research skills, including their skills at formulating an independent research problem, at locating both primary and secondary sources, and at identifying the most suitable methods and theories to tackle the problem at hand;

  • students have demonstrated their ability to work independently and disciplined on an individual research project of considerable size and bringing it to a successful conclusion within a set time limit; and

  • students have refined their skills at responding constructively to feedback from their supervisor.



Mode of instruction

Individual supervision.

Course Load

15 ects x 28 h/ects = 420 hours

  • Time spent attending supervision meetings (intake, four regular meetings, concluding meeting after the mark has been given): 6 hours

  • Time spent preparing meetings with supervisor: 44 hours

  • Time researching and writing thesis: 370 hours

Assessment method


Reading list




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).