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Pilgrimage and Holy Places


Admission requirements

This course is open to students of the MA Asian Studies (Research), the MA Middle Eastern Studies (Research), the MA Asian Studies (60 EC): History, Arts and Culture of Asia, the MA International Relations, the MA Middle Eastern Studies, the MA Theology and Religious Studies, and to Exchange and Study Abroad students as an individual course of Exchange Humanities.
It is expected that students will already have some basic familiarity with the anthropology of religion.


This course offers students with an overview of issues involved in the study of religious landscape and pilgrimage. It will cover theoretical approaches to the topics of place, space, landscape and pilgrimage, as well as case studies focusing on specific examples of pilgrimage from across the world. Students will consider pilgrimage as a form of ritual, as embodied, performative or symbolic action, and as bound up with the contestation of landscape and meaning. The course will interrogate the status of pilgrimage as a universal category, and will question the analytical utility and relevance of the concept of the sacred.
The course consists of two parts. In the first, a series of lectures will cover interpretative, theoretical, and historical approaches to the topic in addition to outlining specific regional perspectives; in the second, students will present their own research through the preparation of a written paper and an associated oral presentation.

Course objectives

After successfully completing the course, students will be able to

  • provide an in-depth overview of the ritual practice of the journeys discussed in class;

  • recognise various theoretical perspectives informing the study of pilgrimage and religious places;

  • conduct a critical literature review of a particular pilgrimage or significant place;

  • report about it orally and in writing.

Career Skills Development
During the course, students

  • improve their command of English;

  • develop their analytical and interpretative skills by means of assignments, discussion, and literature analysis;

  • develop their writing skills by means of assignments;

  • develop their skills at oral discussion;

  • develop their ability to conduct independent research on a topic related to the theme of the course, and present their findings in a well-structured and well-substantiated paper.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • Class participation and questions based on the weekly literature (10%)

  • Oral presentation of the final paper (30%)

  • Final paper (5,000 words) (60%)


The final mark for the course is determined through a weighted average of the grades given for these assignments.


Students producing unsatisfactory work for their final paper will be asked to submit a second version of their paper for the resit.

Inspection and feedback

Assignments will be graded / feedback will be given via Brightspace.

Reading list


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof.