The Leiden Institute for Religious Studies represents a wide range of teaching and
research interests. The Institute comprises two branches of study:
- The study of the history of Christianity and Islam from a theological and philological
- the study of religious phenomena in general from a comparative social-scientific and
This expertise has been combined in the Master Programme in Religious Studies that
spans two semesters. Students can choose a Master programme in one of five fields of
specialization: the Master Tracks.
Students who have a BA in Theology or World Religions from Leiden University do
not have to apply for admission to the MA in Religious Studies, and will automatically
receive a registration form in June. Students are requested to return the registration form
before August 1, but no later than August 31.
- BA in Theology or World Religions from Leiden University or equivalent BA degree
(Religiestudies, Godsdienstwetenschap) from a recognised university.
- BA degree degree from another relevant discipline (Arts, Social Sciences of History) on
the condition that they are able to show their knowledge of the field of specialisation is
sufficient. In some cases knowledge of the original language of a religion is required.
- Proficiency in English. Non-native English speakers must provide proof of English
proficiency with the following scores: IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL 570/230. Dutch students
with VWO level English are exempt from this requirement.
- Students are also expected to meet the admission criteria specific to their chosen
specialisation. These can be found at the programme descriptions of the specialisations.
The programme has seven tracks:
- Biblical Studies
- Islam in the Contemporary West
- Religion, Culture and Society
All of these tracks contain a number of compulsory elements, including one ‘required
The master programmes of the Leiden Institute of Religious Studies have a required
general course, in which topics from the domain of Religious Studies, as well as several
issues pertaining to an academic attitude are discussed. This course, which makes use
of various methods of instruction, continues through two semesters. It aims at training
students in academic skills, so that they are able to conduct research; report about it,
both in writing and speech, in a professionally acceptable and morally responsible
way; and discuss it in a multidisciplinary context. In bi-weekly classroom meetings
per semester, all students come together to hear and discuss topics from the domain of
Religious Studies, approached from interdisciplinary perspectives. There are different
themes for each semester.
The programme consists of the following elements:
5 ec Required general course
5 ec Comparative religion: themes and topics in the study of religion
15 ec core programme, i.e. three courses of the chosen track (3 × 5 ec)
15 ec additional studies/electives
20 ec master thesis
Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation
All students write a master’s thesis of 20 ec. This thesis amounts to min. 18.000 – max. 20.000 words.
The master’s thesis is written in English, unless the supervisor approves of the use of
another language (which may include Dutch). In all languages, correct use of grammar
and style is expected from the student. Also see: Regulations