Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Education Master's and PhD degree programmes Theology & Religious Studies
Header image Theology & Religious Studies

Theology & Religious Studies

How are religion, conflict and peace related? What is at stake in the "musealization" of religion? What role does religion and spirituality play in our experience of health and wellbeing?

Religion is an important factor in many national and international social themes. Sometimes this is obvious, especially when we read news about religious radicalization. Other times, it is much less obvious and we are not as aware of the influence religion has in social phenomena, such as in cases of sexual health or climate change. Experts on religion are needed in a world in which religion is a permanent part of everyday life.

We train these experts in our master’s programmes on religion, discussing subjects ranging from heritage studies to peacebuilding, from health & wellbeing to politics.

Will you join us to make a difference?

Facts & Figures
Degree
MA in Theology & Religious Studies
Course type
Master
Duration
12 months (60 ECTS)
Croho code
60824
Language of instruction
English
Start
September
Faculty
Theology and Religious Studies
Why study this programme in Groningen?
  • Best MA programme in Theology and Religious Studies in the Netherlands
  • Vibrant research tradition with international links.
  • Taught by leading experts with a world-class reputation at Top 100 University.
  • You can follow your own research interests.
  • International teaching staff and international classroom.
  • Expertise on various religions, taught at non-denominational university.
Programme

The tracks comprise of several course modules (30 ECTS in total), an internship (10 ECTS) and a master's thesis (20 ECTS).

Study load

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

1 ECTS = 28 hrs. of study. One year contains of 60 ECTS. In the first year, you will have on average 6 hrs. of lessons per week at the Faculty, the rest of the hours is reserved for preparation of the classes and studying.

Curriculum

Check the individual websites of our tracks for specific information.

Programme options
Religion, Health and Wellbeing (track)

How does work contribute to wellbeing? 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 examines what it means to be ill or healthy in diverse, individualized and highly technological societies, from psychological, cultural, ethical, and political perspectives. Not only does religious diversity influence how we try to recover or maintain our health, it also influences what we think 'health' is in the first place and what we consider meaningfull work.This track within the Master's Programme in Theology and Religious Studies, has three specializations:* Ethics and Diversity* Spiritual Care [Geestelijke Verzorging]* Work and Meaning [Werk en Zingeving]The specialization in Ethics and Diversity imparts the academic knowledge and skills to examine the anthropological, sociological, and ethical dimensions of health and well-being. This specialization is taught in English. The other two specializations are taught in Dutch. See the Dutch page of this website for information on the Dutch taught specilizations.

More information about this option

Religion, Conflict and Globalization (track)

How are religion, conflict and peace related? How does globalization affect local religious traditions? How do religious and secular actors interact in debates on migration and gender?

Within the modern world, it is clear that religion has a major role in many conflicts occurring at multiple levels and locations. Religion has also become one of the main ways in which people connect with each other around the globe. However, the role of religion in contemporary societies is not well understood in academic research, nor in the work of those responsible for policy and action. NGO’s, governments and journalists alike have misguided understandings of religion’s role in the modern world and the meaning that it holds for various peoples.The Religion, Conflict and Globalization Master’s track aims to address the pivotal place of religion within the dynamics of a globalized world, and how this relates to conflicts that shape modern societies. The course is interdisciplinary, wide-ranging, and broad; including political, social, psychological, cultural and legal dimensions.

More information about this option

Religion and Pluralism, Ancient & Modern (track)

How did the Romans view religious-political differences? What potential for pluralism exists in modern monotheisms and secularisms?

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.

More information about this option

Religion and Cultural Heritage (track)

How and why do we creatively make use of the past to forge new identities in the present? What is at stake in the "musealization" of religion?

Religion and Cultural Heritage is a unique one-year interdisciplinary MA-programme focusing on a major trend at the interface of religion, identity, politics, and heritage studies. It also addresses a gap in critical heritage studies, studying the shifting place of religion in heritage debates.Heritage and religion are in the news and on the political agenda both nationally and internationally. In the coming years, 30-80% of religious buildings will lose their original function in the Netherlands. National and European budgets are dedicating millions of euros to the development of plans to address vacant religious heritage buildings. Tourism and pilgrimage to religious objects, sites, and festivals are booming, which raises questions about sustainability and impact.

At the same time, heritage has become a significant subject in contemporary cultural debate. Large-scale migration and secularization are changing the religious identities of communities and the way they perceive the past. Urgent new questions are arising, like how migrant communities can maintain their religious identities while grappling with the material and intangible heritage of their new homes? And how does the new diversity affect the sense of identity and heritage of dominant cultures?The demands of preservation of at risk material and intangible heritage in the face of war, displacement, population shifts, and climate change are great. How are preservation concerns balanced with local resources?This programme challenges you to analyse and contribute your own voice to these debates.

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 optional
  • 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

Transfer options

Study programmeOrganizationTransition
Arabic Language and CultureAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Arts and CultureAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
History (part-time)All Research universitiesNo additional requirements
GodgeleerdheidAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Classics (part-time)All Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Hebreeuwse en Joodse StudiesAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Hebrew Language and CultureAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Islam en ArabischAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Islamic StudiesAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Latin Language and CultureAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Middle Eastern StudiesAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Ancient Near Eastern StudiesAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Ancient CulturesAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Religie en LevensbeschouwingAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Religie in Samenleving en CultuurAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Religious StudiesAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
SociologyAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Theology (part-time)All Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Theologie KlassiekAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Theologie PlusAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
WereldgodsdienstenAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Study programmeOrganizationTransition
Religious StudiesUniversity of GroningenNo additional requirements
TheologyUniversity of GroningenNo additional 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
grade list

A grade list of the marks of your bachelor's degree programme with an explanation of the followed courses.

language test

TOEFL: 580 paper/237 computer/92 internet; IELTS: 6.5 (6.0 on each part) (not for native speakers)

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. Students with another bachelor's degree may be admitted via a premaster's programme.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)
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 a writing sample of an academic paper, preferably your Bachelor's (or Master's) Thesis.

Registration procedure

Students with Dutch degrees send all the documentation by mail to onderwijs.ggw rug.nl.

Students with non-Dutch degrees send all their documentation via OAS (Online Application System).

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students01 May 202101 September 2021
01 May 202201 September 2022
EU/EEA students01 May 202101 September 2021
01 May 202201 September 2022
non-EU/EEA students01 May 202101 September 2021
01 May 202201 September 2022

Nota bene: voor 2020 is de aanmelddeadline verschoven naar 1 juni 2020.

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
grade list

A grade list of the marks of your bachelor's degree programme with an explanation of the followed courses.

language test

TOEFL: 580 paper/237 computer/92 internet; IELTS: 6.5 (6.0 on each part) (not for native speakers)

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. Students with another bachelor's degree may be admitted via a premaster's programme.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)
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 a writing sample of an academic paper, preferably your Bachelor's (or Master's) Thesis.

Language requirements

ExamMinimum score
IELTS overall band6.5
IELTS listening6
IELTS reading6
IELTS writing6
IELTS speaking6
TOEFL paper based580
TOEFL computer based237
TOEFL internet based92

Registration procedure

Students with Dutch degrees send all the documentation by mail to onderwijs.ggw rug.nl.

Students with non-Dutch degrees send all their documentation via OAS (Online Application System).

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students01 May 202101 September 2021
01 May 202201 September 2022
EU/EEA students01 May 202101 September 2021
01 May 202201 September 2022
non-EU/EEA students01 May 202101 September 2021
01 May 202201 September 2022
Tuition fees
NationalityYearFeeProgramme form
EU/EEA2020-2021€ 2143full-time
non-EU/EEA2020-2021€ 13500full-time
EU/EEA2021-2022€ 2168full-time
non-EU/EEA2021-2022€ 14300full-time

Talent Grants available for Non-EU students, check this and other funding options here: https://www.rug.nl/ggw/education/prosstud/talent-grants-and-scholarships-theors

Practical information for:

After your studies

Job prospects

With a degree in Theology and Religious Studies, you can work as an advisor or policymaker. You can find a job in the media and in journalism, or enter the field of education. You can also pursue a research career at a university or research institution. As a spiritual caregiver you can work in care facilities.

Check our alumni page to find out where our alumni ended up after graduating.

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.

Apply nowBrochureEventsContact

Contact

  • ambassadors (Our master's student ambassadors are happy to tell you more about the programme.)
    Email: thrs.prospectives rug.nl
  • Kees van den Ende MA (studieadviseur)
    Email: k.van.den.ende rug.nl
  • Drs. Thea de Boer (Studieadviseur)
    Email: t.m.l.de.boer rug.nl
  • 
						Testimonial of Thomas Ansell - UK

    Sophisticated academic research made diverting and fun

    – Thomas Ansell - UK
    Read more

    I read Theology at the University of Durham in the UK for my Undergraduate Degree and following two years of working in the media industry in London I decided that I wanted to know more about the interplay of religious belief, modernity and theories of conflict- which has led me to study Religion, Conflict and Globalization here at the University of Groningen.

    Religious choices and religious thinking are so close to the hearts of many millions of people around the world and religion’s interaction with modernity and secularism has formed the basis and breeding ground for many of the challenges faced by governments, international organisations and policymakers around the world. Religion is a very fluid concept, which almost always adapts to its contextual situation and so being taught its role within diverse modern societies and in relation to theories of conflict, intersectionality, culture and peacemaking is incredibly important when hoping to develop a better understanding of the world.

    The course is multi-faceted, drawing in influences from the social sciences, religious studies and political theory (and much, much more!). The course designers have worked incredibly hard to ensure that all the readings for classes are relevant, interesting and appropriate to the topic. Most pertinently, academic theories are applied to real-world case studies and many of the teaching staff in the department are leading experts in applying theory to practice. The Theology and Religious Studies Faculty at UG has a brilliant teaching style, where independent study is encouraged but expert advice and support is only a short e-mail, coffee or chat away!

    Religion, Conflict and Globalization has a diverse range of focus topics; I chose ‘Religion, Violence and Conflict Transformation’ and have really enjoyed the mixture of topics - having had tasters of the other focusses (migration and gender) I can quite happily state that all of the focusses are equally interesting and well-taught.

    The University has a focus on the real-world application of your degree programme and part of that is and internship. I hope to undertake my internship within Groningen and work with one of the Non-Governmental Organisations that have clustered around the exceptional university.

    As a place to live and study in, Groningen is unmatched. It is vibrant, everyone is very friendly and there is a vast array of things to see and do. There is a festival, or university-led event nearly every weekend and I hope to extend my time in Groningen further than my 1-year programme. I cannot recommend my course highly enough to anyone who would like to gain a more sophisticated understanding of our highly interconnected world, develop their thoughts on religion in the public domain and experience life at a renowned university in a beautiful city.

    Close
  • 
						Testimonial of Estelle Stegenga - NL

    Understanding the "bigger picture"

    – Estelle Stegenga - NL
    Read more

    When I followed the minor “Religion in the Modern World” at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies during my bachelor's in Pedagogical Sciences, I realized how important it is to learn to understand different perspectives in today's society. After my bachelor's degree, I was seeking a master's degree where students would be broadly trained so that the "bigger picture" could be better understood.

    So far I have been very enthusiastic about the Religion, Health & Wellbeing - Ethics & Diversity master's programme. Social issues are approached from different disciplines such as anthropology (my personal favorite), philosophy and history. Additionally, we are challenged to think critically about the texts we read. Because of the small scale, there is a positive atmosphere and there is a lot of room for discussion and feedback.

    Until now, Gender, Religion and Sexuality has been my favorite course unit. The construct gender was approached from different religions, from a Western and non-Western point of view and from different disciplines. I enjoyed this course with great pleasure and it was often really eye-opening. It was interesting to understand a little better how the meaning of gender and sexuality is shaped by religion, culture and history, among other things.

    I am going to write my thesis about the possible consequences of the new law on citizenship education for a diverse society. I don't know exactly what I want to do after my master's, but I think I would like to work for a non-profit organization.

    Close
  • 
						Testimonial of Carolien van Krimpen - NL

    Encouraged to engage with professionals from both academic and non-academic disciplines.

    – Carolien van Krimpen - NL
    Read more

    After I finished a placement at a museum, I was certain of my choice to follow the Master's degree programme track in Religion and Cultural Heritage. I greatly valued the emphasis on forming a strong theoretical foundation on the one hand, while simultaneously putting acquired knowledge into practice during excursions and seminars on the other. By visiting museums and conferences, we as students were encouraged to engage with professionals from both academic and non-academic disciplines.

    This, along with various relevant guest lectures, significantly contributed to the broadening of my career prospects.

    For my Master’s thesis, I conducted field research on exhibitions of human remains in museums. More specifically, this was a comparative study of the ethical aspects surrounding such exhibitions in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. What does the law say about displaying human remains in the Netherlands? And how does that differ compared to regulations in the United Kingdom? As well as holding in-depth interviews with museum curators, I observed how human remains were displayed. What I found was that the United Kingdom has a more strict and extensive policy regarding these type of exhibitions, whereas the Dutch law seems significantly less comprehensive on this topic. In my conclusion, I wrote a piece of advice on how the Netherlands could implement a more expansive policy. My supervisors were very enthusiastic and at the moment, we are looking for ways to bring my thesis to the attention of policymakers.

    Finally, what I loved during both my Bachelor’s and my Master’s degree was the atmosphere at our beautiful faculty. The fact that it’s a small faculty contributes to a positive study experience as a whole, as both staff and students are very dedicated to their course units and to one another!

    Close
  • 
						Testimonial of Arturo Diaz Guttierez Barriga - Mexico

    One of my interests in religions is how they help in the formation of identities

    – Arturo Diaz Guttierez Barriga - Mexico
    Read more

    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.

    Close

Pre-master's programme

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. Below, you will find the complete programme. There are various electives from which you can choose, depending on your preferred specialization within the master's programme.

1st semester (30 ECTS)

2nd semester (30 ECTS)

If you have followed minor courses in Theology or Religious Studies, it might be possible to follow a shorter premaster's programme. Please contact our student advisors to see what the options are.

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.

Read more

Other degree programmes in religion

If you are interested in a master's degree programme in religion, you might also be interested in:

Read more

Study associations

Gerardus van der Leeuw

Gerardus van der Leeuw is the faculty community of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen.
 The objective of Gerardus van der Leeuw is twofold. On the one hand, Gerardus van der Leeuw intends to organize activities that are scientifically relevant to its students, such as lectures to deepen and broaden the students' knowledge. On the other hand, the association aims to organize various leisure activities, for instance socials, trips and parties.
http://gerardusvanderleeuw.nl/
Read more
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.