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EducationMaster's and PhD degree programmesTheology & Religious Studies - Research
Header image Theology & Religious Studies

Theology & Religious Studies

How can we interpret the influence of religion on local and global developments? What are the relationships between religion and other cultural domains such as science, philosophy and politics?

In this Research Master's Programme you will study how religion is embedded in present-day and in historical cultural contexts. You will explore the impact of local and global socio-economic and political developments on religion, and how religion contributes to such developments. A staff member whose research interests in religion matches yours best, will act as your supervisor throughout the programme.

You will acquire an overview of central debates in the study of religion and develop key research skills by following three compulsory core modules. We offer four specialization routes within which you can develop your individual research profile and skills. Your individual, tailor made route within the programme consists of a combination of optional modules from one of the one-year master specializations, research traineeships, (individual) tutorials and writing a thesis and a research proposal. The modules, traineeships and tutorials are designed to equip you with in-depth knowledge of specialized subjects, together with subject-specific methodological skills. The final specialisation occurs in the Research Master's thesis, which forms the basis of a PhD thesis proposal or an application for research funding.

Facts & Figures
Degree
MA in Theology & Religious Studies (research)
Course type
Research master
Duration
24 months (120 ECTS)
Croho code
60827
Language of instruction
English
Start
September
Faculty
Theology and Religious Studies
Why study this programme in Groningen?
  • Best Research Master's programme in Theology and Religious Studies in The Netherlands
  • Taught by leading experts with a world-class reputation
  • Small classes with intensive supervision.
  • Students can follow their own research interests
  • Focus on the dynamic relationships between religion, culture and society
Programme

In the first year the programme consists of the two compulsory core modules (20 EC), a compulsory course unit on generic academic skills (5 ECTS), a course unit on field specific research skills (5 ECTS), three specialization modules (15 EC), a tailor-made (individual) tutorial (5 EC); a research traineeship (5 EC), and a specialization elective (extra module, tutorial or research traineeship) (5 EC).

Periods
CoursesCourse Catalog >1234
Theories of Religion and Culture (10 EC)

You will encounter important ideas that have influenced the development of the study of religion, and become acquainted with the key figures who shaped these ideas, analyze influential texts, and discuss issues posed by the introduction of new concepts and methods.

Specialization modules (15 EC, optional)

Three course units from the 1-year Master's tracks.

Field specific research skills (5 EC, optional)

Methodology elective from one of 1-year Master's tracks.

Philosophy of Science in the Study of Religion and Culture (10 EC)

This course offers a critical understanding of what today is called 'science' and 'scientific method.'

Elective (5 EC, optional)

Extra course unit from 1-year track, or tutorial, or traineeship

Generic academic skills (5 EC)

Including Writing in English

Research Trainee-ship (5 EC)

A research activity, such as writing a book review, doing an archive search, making a field trip, holding interviews, giving a presentation, or participating in a summer school.

Tutorial (5 EC, optional)

Mainly individual sessions with a researcher whose expertise matches your interest with special assignments

In the first semester of the second year you preferably go abroad to take extra courses, tutorials and research traineeships (30 ECTS). Alternatively, you do your specialization course units, tutorials and research traineeships in the Netherlands. The programme will be completed with a master's thesis (25 EC) and a research proposal (5 EC).

N.B.: Presentational skills, and skills to write a research proposal are trained throughout the two years programme in a series of workshops and in monthly meetings with PhD members of the Graduate School.

Periods
CoursesCourse Catalog >1234
Elective (5 EC, optional)

Extra course from 1-year track, or tutorial, or traineeship

Research Traineeships (15 EC)

Three trainee-ships

Specialization Module (5 EC, optional)

One course unit from one of the 1-year Master's tracks.

Tutorial (5 EC)

Mainly individual sessions with a researcher whose expertise matches your interest with special assignments

Thesis (25 EC)

Final thesis of your research.

Writing Research Proposal (5 EC)

Research Proposal for PhD-position

Study load

28 hours of class and self-study per week on average

Curriculum

Two core modules (20 EC); research classes, tutorials, and trainee-ships in all fields of Theology and Religious Studies (40 EC); Thesis/Research Proposal (25/5 EC), and six optional modules (30 EC) from our Master's programmes in Religion, Conflict and Globalization; Religion and Cultural Heritage; Religion and Pluralism, Ancient & Modern; Religion, Health and Wellbeing.

Programme options
Religion, Conflict and Globalization (specialization)

What is the role of religion in modern society? How does globalisation affect local religious traditions? When does religion appear to inspire both violence and peace?

Looking around the world today, it is clear that religion plays a role in many of the major conflicts going on at various levels. Furthermore religion plays an important role in people's lives worldwide, and has become one of the major ways people connect with each other across the globe. However, the persistence and prominence of the role of religion in contemporary societies is still not sufficiently understood in academic research and in the work of policy-makers, NGO's and journalists.

This degree programme addresses the pivotal place of religion in the dynamics of globalization that shape present-day societies. The programme is interdisciplinary, examining political, social, psychological and cultural dimensions. You will learn to:

  • investigate the consequences of globalization for religious practices and individual, ethnic and national identities
  • examine how secular frames and identities are implicated in conflicts involving religion
  • understand the relationship between religion, conflict and peace-building
  • analyse national and international conflicts, and learn how they are interwoven with religious interests and opinions

More information about this option

Religion and Cultural Heritage (specialization)

Are you fascinated by history and culture? Want to help shape today's cultural landscape? Find out what defines “heritage”? Learn how museums plan exhibitions or how heritage policies are created?

Memory produces identity. That is why heritage is crucial for our sense of continuity in rapidly changing societies.Governments, national and international organizations need to make sense of the past as they make policies for and invest in heritage. The aim of this master's degree is to give you the theoretical and practical education necessary to take an active role in this exciting and growing field.

Why study heritage at a faculty of Theology and Religious Studies? Because most of the heritage around us stems, one way or another, from religious practices and ideas. If you want to understand heritage in all its facets, you want to study with experts who know the full story behind material and intangible heritages both locally and abroad.

The track Religion and Cultural Heritage in the Master's Programme in Theology and Religious Studies combines broad cultural competence with a high-level academic research training and the practical skills relevant for today's job market. Through concrete projects and internships, you can gain hands-on experience in the field.

More information about this option

Religion and Pluralism, Ancient & Modern (specialization)

How did the Romans view religious-political differences? How did ancient Jewish, Christian, and Muslim authorities use authoritative texts?

Tension between group solidarity and productive relations with ' others' has been part of human history for as long as evidence exists. In Europe it has played out most enduringly in relations among the monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Today, in the face of mass migration from Muslim regions, questions of political identity and belonging remain bound up with religious affiliation. This one-year degree programme focuses on relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims in the antique world and how these relations have formed our modern society. We will explore concepts as religious pluralism, politics, and their many interfaces globally in particular.

In this track you will:

  • examine the literary sources of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in a historically informed way in order to bring critical perspectives to modern interpretations;
  • identify continuing issues in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic self-definition, toleration of difference, and exclusionary or conversionist tendencies;
  • map a range of ancient possibilities for coexistence or conviviality and their opposites under changing conditions.

More information about this option

Religion, Health and Wellbeing (specialization)

What role does religion and spirituality play in our experience of health and wellbeing? How does the biomedical focus of current healthcare practice affect us?

This interdisciplinary degree programme will examine what it means to be ill or healthy in diverse, individualized and highly technological societies, from psychological, cultural, ethical, and political perspectives. Not only do religious, cultural, political, physical, and technological diversity influence how we try to recover or maintain our health, they also influence what we think 'health' is in the first place.

More information about this option

Master's Honours Programme: "Leadership: making the difference' (honours program)

Honours programme of the University (15 EC).

For students who have a Bachelor Honours degree and who have attended a University College or were actively involved in (student)organizations besides the regular master programme.

Study abroad

  • Study abroad is recommended
  • For an average of 20 weeks
  • Maximum of 30 EC

We have various exchange contracts with universities both inside and outside Europe, enabling students to follow part of their degree programme at a foreign university. Another option is to take an internship or to do part of the research work abroad. For an overview of our exchange partners, see: http://www.rug.nl/ggw/education/prosstud/exchangeprogrammes/partneruniversities

Entry requirements

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
assessment interview

After selection based on the motivation letter, the grade list and other information, an interview with the student is part of the procedure.

grade average

On average, grades for Bachelor-2 and Bachelor-3 courses should be 7.5 or higher (on a scale of 1 to 10). The quality of the bachelor's (or master's) thesis is very important.

grade list

A grade list of the marks of your bachelor's degree programme with an explanation of the followed courses. The bachelor's programme must have been completed at a pace and with results that warrant the expectation of successful completion of the Research Master's programme in two years.

language test

Sufficient knowledge of English: a TOEFL score of at least 600 (paper), 250 (computer) or 100 (internet), or a minimum score of 7.0 in IELTS (International English Language Testing System; overall; 6.5. on parts) is required. Native speakers of the English language, as well as Dutch applicants with a VWO certificate, are exempt from this requirement.

previous education

Bachelor's degree in Theology, Religious Studies, Arts (e.g. International Organizations, Middle Eastern Studies, Philosophy), Political Sciences or Social Sciences (e.g. Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology). Depending on your former study and courses a reading package will be provided. We assume that you are aware of the concepts and theoretical discussions outlined in this literature.

reference letter

Two letters of recommendation by professors who are well acquainted with your work as a student; these letters may be sent to us separately before March 1 (non-EU) and April 1 (EU);

written request

A letter of motivation to the admissions board, outlining your interest in the programme, including your motivation and expectations (max. 1 page), accompanied with:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Writing sample of an academic paper, preferably your Bachelor's (or Master's) Thesis
  • Proposal for a study plan
Curriculum Vitae (CV)No further information

Registration procedure

Students with a Dutch bachelor's degree send all the documentation by mail to onderwijs.ggw@rug.nl, even if a direct access is applicable.

Transfer options

Study programmeOrganizationTransition
Interdisciplinary Social ScienceAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
Arabic Language and CultureAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
Cultural Anthropology and Development SociologyAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
Arts and CultureAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
History (part-time)All Research universitiesAdditional requirements
GodgeleerdheidAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
GodsdienstwetenschapAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
Hebreeuwse en Joodse StudiesAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
HumanistiekAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
Islam en ArabischAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
SociologyAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
Theology (part-time)All Research universitiesAdditional requirements
Theologie KlassiekAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
Theologie PlusAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
WereldgodsdienstenAll Research universitiesAdditional requirements
Study programmeOrganizationTransition
Religious StudiesUniversity of GroningenAdditional requirements
Liberal Arts and SciencesUniversity of Groningen

Additional requirements

More information:

Required: letter of motivation, overview of results of your bachelor program, CV, writing sample of academic paper. Depending on your former study and courses a reading package will be provided. We assume that you are aware of the concepts and theoretical discussions outlined in this literature.

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
assessment interview

After selection based on the motivation letter, the grade list and other information, an interview with the student is part of the procedure.

grade average

On average, grades for Bachelor-2 and Bachelor-3 courses should be 7.5 or higher (on a scale of 1 to 10). The quality of the bachelor's (or master's) thesis is very important.

grade list

A grade list of the marks of your bachelor's degree programme with an explanation of the followed courses. The bachelor's programme must have been completed at a pace and with results that warrant the expectation of successful completion of the Research Master's programme in two years.

language test

Sufficient knowledge of English: a TOEFL score of at least 600 (paper), 250 (computer) or 100 (internet), or a minimum score of 7.0 in IELTS (International English Language Testing System; overall; 6.5. on parts) is required. Native speakers of the English language, as well as Dutch applicants with a VWO certificate, are exempt from this requirement.

previous education

Bachelor's degree in Theology, Religious Studies, Arts (e.g. International Organizations, Middle Eastern Studies, Philosophy), Political Sciences or Social Sciences (e.g. Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology). Depending on your former study and courses a reading package will be provided. We assume that you are aware of the concepts and theoretical discussions outlined in this literature.

reference letter

Two letters of recommendation by professors who are well acquainted with your work as a student; these letters may be sent to us separately before March 1 (non-EU) and April 1 (EU);

written request

A letter of motivation to the admissions board, outlining your interest in the programme, including your motivation and expectations (max. 1 page), accompanied with:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Writing sample of an academic paper, preferably your Bachelor's (or Master's) Thesis
  • Proposal for a study plan

Language requirements

ExamMinimum score
IELTS overall band7
IELTS listening6.5
IELTS reading6.5
IELTS writing6.5
IELTS speaking6.5
TOEFL paper based600
TOEFL computer based250
TOEFL internet based100

Registration procedure

International students and Dutch students with non-Dutch qualifications are not automatically admitted to a Master's degree programme at the University of Groningen. The full registration procedure will take longer than for Dutch students with regular Dutch qualifications and consists of three steps: application, admission and registration.

Check the admissions guide for more information about the admissions procedure.

Students with a Dutch bachelor's degree send all the documentation by mail to ggw@rug.nl, even if a direct access is applicable.

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students01 May 202001 September 2020
EU/EEA students01 May 202001 September 2020
non-EU/EEA students01 April 202001 September 2020
Tuition fees
NationalityYearFeeProgramme form
EU/EEA2019-2020€ 2083full-time
non-EU/EEA2019-2020€ 12500full-time

Talent Grant available for Non-EU students, check this and other funding options here: https://www.rug.nl/ggw/education/master/talent-grants-and-scholarships-at-the-faculty-of-theology-and-religious-studies

Practical information for:

After your studies

Job prospects

A degree in Theology and Religious Studies (research) provides a perfect background for:

  • admission to PhD programmes at national and international institutes and universities;
  • positions outside academia for which academic research skills are required;
  • positions as civil servant, advisor or policymaker with local and national government;
  • teaching positions.

Job examples

  • PhD position
  • Independent scholar
  • Secondary education teacher
  • Civil servant or policy advisor at national or local government
  • Position in publishing
Research

Research

The programme directly benefits from cutting-edge research carried out within the three departments of the faculty:

  • Jewish, Christian and Islamic Origins. The research and teaching carried out in this department focuses on the formative stages of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Your lecturers study their dynamic interrelationship in the context of ancient Near Eastern, Graeco-Roman and late antique cultures.
  • Comparative Study of Religion. In this department, religion is addressed in all its forms and appearances. Historians, anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists are working together to critically investigate religion as a cultural factor that is so influential in the modern world. Of particular importance for the research and teaching in this department is the critical analysis of constructions of “Eastern” and “Western” forms of religion.
  • Christianity and the History of Ideas. The scholars in this department focus on the impact of the Christian intellectual tradition in the past as well as the possibilities of a rapprochement of religion and the secular in our time.

The course units are taught by internationally recognized scholars. They will provide you with an up-to-date overview of the state of the art of the subjects you are studying, often drawing on their own research.

Research Centres and activities

Much of the research connects with the activities of:

These centres and research groups regularly invite speakers and organise events where students, PhD students and staff engage in lively discussions.

Graduate School

The Research Master's Programme is part of the Graduate School of Theology and Religious Studies.

Apply nowBrochureEventsContact
Master's WeekBroerstraat 5More information

Contact

If you want to know more about the programme Theology & Religious Studies, please contact:

  • 
						Testimonial of Laura Vollmer (USA)

    The Research Master accommodates diverse interests

    – Laura Vollmer (USA)
    Read more

    As someone interested in a variety of subjects that do not clearly belong to a particular discipline, I found the Research Master's in Theology and Religious Studies in Groningen to be an excellent fit. The programme's interdisciplinary nature and the diverse opportunities for research traineeships provide students with the flexibility to develop a unique course of study.

    While working towards my first MA in East Asian studies, I found myself increasingly drawn to topics that challenged the very analytical categories we use to define disciplinary boundaries, such as 'Eastern' and 'Western' cultures, or even 'religion' and 'science.' Understanding how these boundaries are constructed and deconstructed is essential for a reflective and accurate analysis.

    Now as a Research Master's student, I have the opportunity and support to explore largely uncharted territory, such as the public role of 'privatized' spirituality, the religiosity of science, and the scientification of religion, and to compare systems of knowledge across cultures. These topics often give rise to metaphysical and epistemological matters, such as the clash between the often physicalist worldview of science and the dualist view of many religious philosophies. The traineeships allow me to explore these topics that lie outside traditional disciplinary lines uninhibited.

    This programme is providing me with the training I need to become a distinctive and innovative scholar.

    Close
  • 
						Testimonial of Prof. dr. Christoph Jedan

    The most demanding and rewarding degree programme that we offer

    – Prof. dr. Christoph Jedan
    Read more

    The Research Master in Theology and Religious Studies is in many ways the most demanding and rewarding degree programme that we offer. In addition to specializing in a specific research area, you receive intensive 'generalist' academic training. This combination will be an important string to your bow; you are trained to connect your core expertise with different research traditions — a valuable asset wherever you choose to apply your talents.

    In the Research Master programme, I co-teach the course Philosophy of Science in the Study of Religion and Culture with Professor Kocku von Stuckrad and Dr. Joram Tarusarira. It is one of the two course units that provide the 'generalist' training.

    My own research interests lie in the historical and philosophical part of the curriculum. I am interested in the role of religion in ethics and political thinking, and more broadly in the history of ideas. For instance, I have worked on the changing face of virtue ethics, from Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy to its use in today's political election programmes.

    At the moment I am intrigued by the changing attitudes towards consolation in Western culture. While philosophers and theologians in the past wrote letters of consolation and treatises about how to offer comfort to the bereaved, the culture of a highly argumentative approach to death and dying has increasingly come under pressure. What can this development tell us about the role of religion, about changing views about the self, reason, emotion and human fulfilment? To cut a long story short, consolation is an understudied but fascinating and highly significant cultural 'marker' for the development of Western culture.

    Are you interested in such questions yourself? Come and have a chat.

    Close
  • 
						Testimonial of Peter Meister-Broekema

    Thinking beyond mere economic value

    – Peter Meister-Broekema
    Read more

    I studied History, Philosophy and Religious Studies because I have a broad interest in culture and people. Maybe it is due to my atheist upbringing that I have always been fascinated with what attracts people to religion.

    Relatively quickly after graduating, I started working as a consultant, helping businesses to innovate and obtain grants. The company I worked for mainly employed economists and business experts and was keen on hiring someone with a different perspective. I then spent a number of years as a project manager in the cultural sector, developing and managing exhibitions, outreach projects and international collaboration projects. After that, I was a fundraiser for the UG Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies and the Faculty of Arts. In 2015, I took my family to London, where I became a fundraiser at the London School of Economics.

    After years of project management and fundraising, I was yearning for more ‘substantive’ work, i.e. research, alongside my practical duties – provided that the subject could generate clear societal impact. That is why I now work as a researcher and fundraiser at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, where I study social enterprises and societal impact at the NoorderRuimte knowledge centre. In addition, I also lead a large European research project on the impact of social sciences and humanities research.

    I believe that the strength of the humanities mainly lies in their reflective character, their ability to think beyond mere economic value and to put developments into context. My current job includes doing research – a skill which I also developed during my Research Master's programme, of course.

    Close
  • 
						Testimonial of Astrid Stoker

    Privacy and security are increasingly important in an access-oriented world

    – Astrid Stoker
    Read more

    Right after graduation, I was accepted into a national trainee programme for information management. This traineeship included several short-term projects with various government institutions. Someone in my personal network tipped me about a job vacancy for an Information Manager at the Municipality of Nijmegen. I could already start there when I was halfway through my traineeship.

    My job as information manager is very active and it gives me a lot of energy. Every day is different and time flies. Through training and coaching, I am becoming aware of what sensitive information is and how to handle it. I also think along and offer advice on how to build an archive, which has great cultural and historical as well as legal importance. Project management plays an important role in my job as well: from tender to implementation, from applications to new ways of working.

    My degree programme has been useful for my job, particularly in terms of acquired skills, such as networking, presenting, thinking critically and analytically and approaching issues from different perspectives. During my Research Master, I followed the Religion, Conflict and Globalization track. Globalization and digitization form interesting links between this programme and information management, as privacy and security are increasingly important in an access-oriented world. This means that information must be handled with utmost care. On the one hand digitization can be a convenient means: relevant information is rapidly available and it enables safe and efficient collaboration. On the other hand, radical ideas also manifest themselves on the internet, information can fall into the wrong hands, data leaks can occur and cyber attacks are being launched.

    The extracurricular activities that I did alongside my studies have proven extremely important for my current job. I was a member of the Programme Committee and the Faculty Board, for instance. Both memberships were useful as I am involved in consultancy and policymaking. I also gained experience with information provision as Master's ambassador and with organizing and promoting events as a member of the sustainability committee.

    Close
Student profile

The two-year research programme is offered to highly qualified and motivated students, who have a wide-ranging interest in religion and who wish to study in a challenging academic environment that stimulates personal ambition and development. You will be prepared to carry out postgraduate academic research.

Study support

Master's students are expected to show a large degree of independence. If necessary you can make use of various forms of study supervision and study support. For example, you can contact a mentor or your study advisor. While writing your thesis, you will receive personal supervision from one of the lecturers.

Immediately after arrival, students who gained their Bachelor's degree at a different faculty or university as well as international students will be allocated a mentor who will help them get to know the Faculty. You can also go to the study advisor if you have doubts about your abilities or for whatever reason run the risk of study delay. You will receive intensive supervision while writing your thesis. The Master's programme includes a thesis seminar, where attention is paid to how to tackle writing a Master's thesis, and where the progress of the process is monitored closely. You will also receive structural supervision from the lecturer who is the specialist in the field of your thesis.