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.

Learn more about this master's programme by watching the Master's Talks programme videos

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Why study Religious Studies?

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.

Why study Religious Studies at Leiden University?

This one-year MA programme offers you the best of Leiden University, from outstanding and dedicated lecturers to its library’s famous collections. 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. 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.

We also offer a two-year variant of our programme, called MA Religie en Levensbeschouwing (MA Religion and Worldview). This variant is specifically targeted at the educational sector and is taught in both English and Dutch.

Learn more about the two-year educational programme MA Religie en Levensbeschouwing.

Benefit from an excellent location

The programme also benefits from Leiden’s location in the Randstad. The surrounding urban region is recognised as being ‘superdiverse’, which translates into endless opportunities for local research among an incredible array of religious communities. As well, given the close proximity of cities such as The Hague and Amsterdam, Leiden students have convenient access to hundreds of governmental, non-governmental, and international organisations where they can conduct research and/or take an internship to gain real-world experience and expand their networks.

The wide-scope, combination of staff expertise, and focus on skills building and networking makes this programme unique.

Learn more about the study programme

Staff Expertise and Approaches

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

Customise your degree

In addition to two foundational ‘core courses’, which focus on methodology and introduce important themes such as modernisation, globalisation, migration, and religious diversity, students are able to choose a specialisation : (1) Religion, History, and Society; (2) Religion, Politics, and Governance; or (3) Religion and Area Studies. Within these specialisations, you can tailor course assignments to focus on specific religions, historical periods, regions, and political situations, as well as more global and theoretical comparisons. Additionally, there is also space in the programme to take an internship or conduct an independent project alongside a member of staff.

Admission and Application

Do you want to find out if you are eligible for this Master's programme?

Check the entry requirements

Small class sizes and individual attention

At Leiden, you are treated as a valued member of a tight-knit academic community. Small classes create an informal atmosphere and provide the opportunity to interact with lecturers and classmates. Outside of the classroom, through fieldwork projects and the MA thesis, students receive one-on-one supervision and substantial feedback on their work. Of course, there are also plenty of opportunities for academic and social activities through study and student associations.

See what life in Leiden is like

Religious Studies degree

Religious Studies at Leiden University is an accredited degree programme. After successful completion of this programme, you will receive a master’s degree in Religious Studies and the title Master of Arts (MA).

Find out more about the career prospects

In which sector do students find jobs?

  • 33 Education
  • 22 Research
  • 22 Government and semi-government organisations
  • 11 Healthcare and welfare
  • 12 Other

The graph above is based on alumni data from the MA in Religious Studies 2016-2020.

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