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First year

The Leiden MA is a one-year programme and consists of 60 ec’s (European Credits).
Compulsory for all students Religious Students: General Required Course.

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

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

Specialisation courses:

Comparative Religion: Themes and Topics in the Study of Religion 5
Ethics and Religion: War and Peace 5
Indian Philosophy II 5-10
Philosophy of Religion: Religion and the Natural Sciences 5
Sociology of Religion 5-10
Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 5
Psychology of Religion 5
Hellenistic Religions: The deconstruction and reconstruction of Gnosticism 5


Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Global Christianity: the Middle East (1800-present) 5
Indian Philosophy II 5-10
Interpreting Islam: contemporary ijtihad in economics and biomedical ethics 5
Islamic Jurisprudence for Muslims in Europe: The Role of Fatwas 5
Jewish Culture: The Synagogue. Focus of Jewish Life and Learning 5
Judaism in the Greco-Roman Period: The Jews in Roman Alexandria 5
Literature and Religion of Ancient Israel 5
European policies and jurisprudence concerning muslims and Islam 5
Foundations of Early Christian Tradition 5
Gender and Religion: Engendering the Study of Judaism 5
Jewish Historiography: Israel's New or Post-Zionist Historians and Artists 5
Piety, Modernity, and Gender in Islam: Anthropological Perspectives 5
Rabbinic and Medieval Judaism: Jewish Mysticism 5
Religion, art, and identity of Christian societies in the Middle East 10
Self-secularization or the adaptability of Christianity 5-10

More info


The MA track “Religion, Culture and Society” is geared towards students who want to work on religious diversity and interaction in past and present. It brings together approaches from the history of religions, comparative religion, sociology of religion, psychology of religion, philosophy and ethics. Students are required to approach religion from a variety of perspectives and to formulate integrated research questions.

Religion is an immensely important dimension of human culture and society and can be studied on various levels: from the personal/individual level through its function(s) in distinct communities, societies or periods of history up to its role in the modern world as a whole. As a result, there is no single (integrated) theory of religion. An interdisciplinary approach to the subject is therefore indispensable, and students in this track can choose both a focus area (a particular religious tradition or a chosen theme, such as ‘religion and violence’, ‘pilgrimage’, ‘freedom of religion’, ‘esotericism’) and a disciplinary angle from which their subject will be approached. The Institute for Religious Studies, and the Faculty of Humanities as a whole, is almost unparalleled in the wide scope of its geographical, historical, and disciplinary expertise.

Programme Religion, Culture and Society

5 ec General Required Course
5 ec Method and Theory in the study of religion
5 ec choose: Psychology of Religion or Sociology of Religion
5 ec choose: Ethics or Philosophy or Comparative Religion

20 ec MA thesis

20 ec electives – focus

Comparative Religion

Prof.dr. A.F. de Jong (Religions of Antiquity/ Comparative Religion)
Dr. W. Hofstee (Comparative Religion & Anthropology of Religion)

Indian Religions

Prof. dr. P.C. Bisschop (Sanskrit and Hinduism)
Dr. H.W.A. Blezer (Buddhism)
Dr. N. Mohkamsing (Contemporary Hinduism)
Prof.dr. J.A. Silk (Buddhism)

Philosophy of Religion/ Ethics

Prof. Dr. W.B. Drees (Philosophy of Religion)
Dr. H.W. Sneller (Philosophy of Religion and Ethics)

Social Sciences

Dr. E.M. de Boer (Psychology of Religion)
Drs. M. Davidsen (Sociology of Religion)