Universiteit Leiden

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Religious Studies (MA)

The MA Religious Studies at Leiden University is designed to equip students with the tools and knowledge required for studying, interpreting, and analysing religion as a diverse (human) phenomenon. With its world-class scholars and access to exceptional research collections, the programme offers the opportunity to explore a broad spectrum of religions and their manifestations from a comparative, multidisciplinary perspective.

Start in September 2024 

The deadline for applications for September 2023 is closed. The next starting date will be September 2024. We also offer the MA Religie en Levensbeschouwing (120 EC). This programme is specifically targeted at the educational sector and is taught in both English and Dutch. 

Why study Religious Studies at Leiden University?

Religion permeates our world and remains highly influential across all domains of human society, including politics, culture, and economics. Religion also plays a critical role in everyday life as it provides meaning, motivation, and social support for billions of people. Despite trends of secularisation in some areas, on a global level religious identification is actually growing and a majority of people around the world continue to be affiliated with religious organisations and communities. It is not a stretch to claim that no matter the region, the issue, or the historical period, knowledge of religion is essential for understanding the world.

Learn more about the study programme 

What are your career prospects? 

Our graduates have pursued successful careers in research and in the public, private and non-profit sectors as editors, journalists, policy advisors, counsellors, and teachers of religion or philosophy. 

Find out more about your career prospects 

Is Religious Studies the programme for you?

This one-year MA programme offers you the best of Leiden University, from outstanding and dedicated lecturers to its library’s famous collections. Our generalist approach towards the study of religion focuses on skills, tools, methods, and theories, with students being taught how to collect data using a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods and how to analyse and apply concepts and theories to real-world empirical findings. By the end of the programme, you will be equipped with everything needed to critically analyse complex situations around the globe and tackle problems in society at large. Do you want to find out if you are eligible for this Master's programme? 

Check the admission requirements 

Staff Expertise and Approaches

The programme relies heavily on the research of staff members who bring together expertise in specific religions with a comparative approach that draws on a variety of humanistic and social scientific disciplines. The staff of the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Religion (LUCSoR) brings expertise in a broad spectrum of religions, including: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Japanese Religions, New Religions, Ancient Religions, and African Indigenous Religions.

They also bring a range of disciplinary expertise, including Anthropology, Sociology, History, Psychology, Cognitive Studies, Law, International Relations, Political Science, Public Policy and Governance, Diaspora Studies, and Science and Religion.

Check out the LUCSoR staff profiles

Markus Davidsen

University Lecturer

Markus Davidsen

"The vast majority of people in the world are religious and that is not going to change. To understand the world, both past and present, one therefore has to understand religion. In pluralistic societies, such as the Dutch, moreover, there is a growing need for religion experts in education, municipalities, NGOs, and various ministries. The Religious Studies programme in Leiden aims to educate those religion experts. The programme combines an emphasis on theory and research skills with the opportunity to build up familiarity with the job market through workshops and internships."

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