What were the limits of tolerance and acceptance? Which roles did inclusion and exclusion play in the ancient world? How were notions of self and other shaped, and what were their mutual influences?
This MA track studies the existence and coexistence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Exploring the impact of religious diversity on social identity formation in the Graeco-Roman and late antique periods until the rise of Islam, it analyses the role of tolerance and acceptance, of rejection and exclusion in their mutual relationships during the last two millennia.
You will focus on a historical and philological analysis of the textual sources documenting the contacts among these religious traditions, approaching them from different angles and with diverse methods. Archaeology, codicology, paleography, epigraphy, textual analysis and interpretation illuminate each other in the scrutiny of the evidence concerning religious diversity in the ancient world.
This MA track is unique due to both the interdisciplinary study of ancient Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions in one track, and the possibility of combining with a modern specialization. In it, students will encounter, firsthand, people from the ancient world and know how they grappled with religious diversity; they will envisage the varied religious roots of the modern world.
One of my interests in religions is how they help in the formation of identities
I chose the program at the University of Groningen for two reasons: The historical and social approach that the program has (other universities have a more theological approach), and the opportunity of studying the three monotheistic religions (other programs are focused on Christianity or Islam). Also, I like the courses on texts studies.
My master’s thesis is about the split between Jews and Samaritans. Both religious communities share several beliefs, texts, practices, origins, and yet they are not the same. I chose this topic because one of my interests in religions is how they help in the formation of identities. For my internship, I will work at a historical research agency concentrating on museum design and exhibitions. They are currently working on the exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Groningen, and I will help with research. I will be a comparative study on several Jewish museums based in synagogues and how the religious aspect of the building might influence its use for cultural activities.
I did my bachelor's in History at the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana in Mexico City, and besides the cultural shock and the evident differences regarding the weather, living in Groningen has been a marvelous experience. The international environment in such a small city and its student essence makes studying at Groningen a great experience.
After graduation, I would like to do research and teach at a university. The field of Religious Studies in Mexico is far from being developed and accepted at the universities. I want to help this to change. Also, as a former worker at a Research and Documentary Center of the Jewish Community, which also organizes cultural events, I want to collaborate on the planning of courses and activities for promoting an inter-religious society.
I wanted to study the social aspects of religion
Previously, I studied Anthropology at the University of Lisbon (ISCSP) in Portugal and so I had come across pluralism before. Added to this, I knew that I wanted to study the social aspects of religion and find a course that looked at pluralism in history and debated it with reference to contemporary issues.
I have particularly enjoyed this mixture of historical and contemporary debate in the course. A huge amount of information is covered in the year-long course and I am presently working on my thesis before embarking upon my MA placement.
The Netherlands has proved to be a good context in which to study religion and pluralism. My thesis involves research with young people in the Groningen Feminist Network and the academic research tools taught at the University of Groningen have been very instructive to my research. Our studies have included looking at both gender and sexuality, which are topics that both feed into my thesis and are large parts of many current debates- the small size of classes and quality of the lecturers have also really contributed to my experience.
I hadn’t previously been to Groningen, and have been really happily surprised by the young spirit of the city. It’s the perfect combination of a small city where everything can be reached by foot or on bike whilst at the same time being full of life with a lot to explore. Overall, my experience has been extremely positive; both academically and for meeting people from lots of different countries and backgrounds. In the future I hope to work in education, and the MA here at the UG is setting me up well for this.
Unique perspective on historical-political issues and social inequality
I chose the Master's degree programme in Religion and Pluralism, Ancient and Modern because I saw it as a logical continuation of my Bachelor's programme in Theology in this Faculty, and the Philosophy of a specific discipline (Theology) in the Faculty of Philosophy. I was particularly excited by the part-historical, part-philosophical approach to substantive concepts such as 'religion'.
Every course unit has a specific focus (historical, conceptual, thematic) and at least half your mark is based on a final essay. You are free to choose your subject and I seized the opportunity with both hands, thoroughly enjoying writing essays on a wide range of subjects. Writing essays helps you to develop your organizational skills and discipline. If you know that planning isn’t your strongest point, don’t be afraid to say so. A bit of help from other people can go a long way!
It’s fascinating to merge various approaches and fields of interest in my Master’s thesis. That’s why I combined early Islam with my interest in philosophy and hermeneutics, and ended with the ninth-century Arabic scholar Al-Kindi. He was the one who introduced Aristotelian concepts into Islamic ideology.
The Master’s programme helps you develop a critical attitude and analytical skills. This gives you a unique perspective when it comes to historical-political issues and social inequality. If I can combine this with my placement field (a television company), I might soon find a job making documentaries. But I also have ambitions in politics, journalism and teaching.
If you do not have a bachelor's degree in either the Humanities or Behavioural and Social Sciences, you will first need to complete a pre-master's programme before you can enter this master's programme. There are several electives you can choose from. Below, you will find the complete programme.
1st semester (30 ECTS)
Students without a bachelor's degree in Arts/Humanities or Behavioural and Social Sciences may be exempted from the requirement to complete a pre-master's programme first under certain conditions.
For the pre-master's programme, you will pay a so called compensation in stead of regular tuition fees. This compensation is the same for both EU and non-EU students.
If you are interested in a master's degree programme in religion, you might also consider one of our other master's programmes: