No. 1
University in The Netherlands
Shanghai Ranking 2020
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30 EC
research internship or study abroad option
during 2nd year of the RMA programme
Our students share their experiences with the RMA programme

Explore religion and its interconnections with society and culture

Are you interested in the vibrant world of religions? Do you want to study how sacred texts such as the Bible or the Quran have been formed and interpreted throughout the ages? Do you want to understand why religious images, buildings, clothes, and everyday practices often provoke fierce debates or even violent conflicts? Do you want to be able to contribute to analyses of the interplay between religion and politics in the context of globalization and migration? 

The research Master's programme in Religious Studies is a challenging, research-oriented programme that prepares you for participation in current debates in the international community of scholars of religion, and to make your own contributions to the field.

Key research areas

The programme combines an advanced grounding in the central themes and theories of the study of religion, with ample opportunity for specialisation. You can choose and develop your specific expertise in relation to one of the key research areas of our institute such as:

  • Religious texts and interpretative practices: This research area focuses on the study of religious traditions from the perspective of sacred texts: their interpretation and the religious rituals and practices associated with them, and discussions on the authority of religious texts.
  • Materiality and physicality of lived religion: This area focuses on the study of the use of the body and the senses in religious practices, such as praying, dancing, fighting, and fasting, and the function of objects within the context of religion, such as images, buildings, food, clothing, money, movies, and digital media. 
  • Religious diversity in contexts of globalization and migration: This research area focuses on the role of religion in public controversies and political developments concerning, for instance, gender equality, sociocultural transformation, political and religious fundamentalism, and conflict resolution.

International community 

As a student of this programme, you will become part of an international community of students, PhD researchers, postdocs, and senior scholars working together at a leading research institute. You will attend small-scale seminars and learn from renowned scholars, who will actively involve you in their own research. Read more about our teaching and research environment, including our teaching staff.

After graduation

During this research Master’s programme, you will develop the knowledge and skills to independently develop and carry out high-quality research in various branches of Religious Studies. As a graduate of this programme, you will have:

  • A broad understanding of the entire field of Religious Studies.
  • Thorough knowledge and methodological skills in a specific subfield.
  • The knowledge and skills to present research results both orally and in writing.
  • An international network of junior and senior scholars in the field of Religious Studies.

After successful completion of the programme, you are fully equipped for further advanced research, such a PhD in Religious Studies, Islamic Studies, or cognate disciplines such as Anthropology. Your training also equips you to pursue non-academic career paths requiring advanced research skills. Read more about career development and possible career prospects.


Religious Studies is a selective research Master’s programme. Do you want to know if you are eligible for this Master? Check the entry requirements.

Chunrong Zhao wins Cornelis Tiele MA Thesis Award 2020
Profile picture Chunrong Zao, alumnus Religious Studies

Chunrong Zhao, graduate of the RMA Religious Studies, has won the Cornelis Tiele MA Thesis Award 2020. He wrote his thesis under supervision of Dr Katja Rakow

The award commitee commented: "Zhao’s thesis “Overcoming Essentialism: A Transcultural Approach to Gandhāran Buddhist Material Culture” provides an impressive historical overview of the representation of Gandharan Buddhism, and combines this with an excellent theoretical analysis. The committee particularly appreciates Zhao’s efforts to not only deconstruct, but also to develop an innovative, constructive methodology to research postcolonial material culture."

  • Profile picture Elizaveta Shishlakova, RMA Religious Studies
    "I am generally happy with all the courses I have, but I'm really looking forward to the course on game studies, media and play."
  • Profile picture Aleksi Hamalianen, RMA Religious Studies
    "One of the major advantages of the programme is the focus on subtle nuances in society, religious traditions, and other relevant discourse."


Degree: This Master's programme is officially registered under its name in the Central Register of Higher Education Study Programmes
  • Title: MA
  • Master's degree in: Arts & Culture (research)
  • Programme: Religious Studies
Croho code:
Language of instruction:
Part- or full-time status:
2 years
Credits: 60 credits equals one year full-time study load (European Credit Transfer System, ECTS)
Start of studies:
Application deadline:
  • Dutch & EU/EER students: 1 June
  • Non-EU/EEA students: 1 April
Tuition fees:
Graduate school: