Study programme

The research Master's programme in Religious Studies comprises two years (120 EC). Each year is divided into two semesters, running from September until January and from February until June. A semester is divided into two study periods.


The programme consists of compulsory courses, electives, tutorials, study abroad or a research internship, and a thesis. 

Year 1

Compulsory courses familiarize students with theories and methods in the study of religion. Electives and tutorials help students to specialize and pursue their research interests.

Year 2

The first semester will be devoted to your stay at a university abroad, to a research internship, or to electives/tutorials. The second semester is reserved for writing the Master’s thesis. In this text, you will contribute your own independent research to a debate in the field of religious studies. To help prepare your thesis, you will also participate in a Thesis Lab. Examples of recent thesis titles:

  • Siege Saints, ‘Chad’ Martyrs and Holy Warriors: On the Veneration of Violent Right-Wing Extremists on 4chan (Mara Luna van Dijk, 2022)
  • Digitally Mediated Neo-Hindutva Affective Economies and Publics (Rashmi Shetty, 2021)
  • Traditional Tunes Transformed: Resonances and Dissonances between Theology and Lived Religion in the Protestant Church on the Central Moluccas (Jip Lensink, 2020)
  • Overcoming Essentialism: A Transcultural Approach to Gandhāran Buddhist Material Culture (Chunrong Zhao, 2019)

Thesis awards

Students who pursue a degree in Religious Studies are intrinsically motivated and this shows in their study results. Our graduates are regularly awarded prizes for writing excellent theses.

  • Wytze J. Dijkstra won the 2024 Cornelius Tiele MA Thesis Award of the Dutch Association for the Study of Religion. The title of his thesis is Spatial Storytelling in Yad Vashem: An Ethnographic Exploration on the (Dis)Placement of the Sacred in Israel's National Holocaust Memorial.
  • Veerle Dijkstra won the 2022 Thesis Award of the Faculty of Humanities with her thesis Going Digital: Corona as a Lens onto the Dynamics of Religious Mediation in Four Christian Church Communities in The Netherlands.
  • Wouter Kock was awarded the 2022 Jan Brouwer Thesis Award of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities with his thesis Loss in Translation: The Heritagization of Catholic Monasteries.
  • Rashmi Shetty won the 2021 Thesis Award of the Faculty of Humanities with her thesis Digitally Mediated Neo-Hindutva Affective Economies and Publics.
  • Chunrong Zhao won the 2020 Cornelis Tiele MA Thesis Award of the Dutch Association for the Study of Religion. The title of his thesis is Overcoming Essentialism: A Transcultural Approach to Gandhāran Buddhist Material Culture.

Educational methods

  • lecture (10%)
  • seminar (50%)
  • research colloquia (10%)
  • independent study (30%)
  • research internship/study abroad (optional)


Students are encouraged to apply for internships during the research Master programme in Religious Studies. Professors and the internship coordinator help students find intern opportunities that connect with their degree programme. In recent years students served as interns for different institutions such as the Dutch National Museum of World Cultures and the Research Centre for Material Culture, Expat Centre Leiden, the Meertens Institute, and Museum Catharijne Convent. Other students opted for research internships at Utrecht University and Radboud University Nijmegen.

Internship at Museum Catharijneconvent

RMA student Gert Naberman talks about his internship at Museum Catharijneconvent

RMA student Gert Naberman did an internship at Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht. He organised a workshop day with the Network for Religious Heritage and he worked on the inventory of the Christian collection of the 'Museum van Wereldculturen'. 

Examination methods

  • research papers
  • written assignments
  • oral presentations
  • Master’s thesis

Extra opportunities

For students looking for an extra challenge in addition to their Master's, there are several options. Utrecht University offers several honours programmes for students looking for an extra challenge. Honours education is followed on top of your regular Master's programme and goes beyond the regular curriculum. Honours programmes are available at interdisciplinary level and allow you to work on projects that transcend your own discipline. 

Read more about the honours programmes