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There seems to be growing room for creativity and personalisation of religious ideas, beliefs, and practices. How are we to make sense of this development? In this Master’s programme you will study the changing role of religion and spirituality in contemporary societies and their historical roots.

The past and present forms of spirituality and religion

This programme focuses on spirituality as a key dimension of religion. Spirituality is often defined as individualised, experience-oriented religion, in which legal, doctrinal, and institutional aspects are perceived to have secondary importance. Praxis, rather than belief, is emphasised, and orthodoxy is often challenged with heterodox ideas and practices. In this programme, we focus on spirituality and religion as they manifest themselves in the most diverse areas of culture and society, both in the past and in the present. Our students are trained to use both historical and social-scientific methods. The programme has three core courses and a number of electives, which form the basis for three different specialisations. For students particularly interested in Western esotericism, especially from a historical perspective, we offer Spirituality and Esotericism in Western Culture. For students interested in the contemporary religious landscape, there is Religion and Spirituality in Contemporary Societies. Finally, for students with an interest in Islam, there is the possibility to opt for Spirituality and Religion in Islam.

As a student in this programme, you will learn to conduct research from a critical perspective, to work with various kinds of primary sources, and to present your results in an elaborate, coherent way. Upon completion of the programme, you will have a firm grasp of the historical roots of spirituality and the changing role of religion in society. You can use this expertise and related skills in your future careers in such fields as research, policy, education, or in the cultural sector.

Unique in the world

The Master’s in Spirituality and Religion at the University of Amsterdam is unique in the world in its exclusive focus on spirituality and religion from a historical and social-scientific perspective. It offers, among others, specialised courses on Western esotericism and on the changing place of spirituality and religion in contemporary societies. This one-year programme is taught in English, and welcomes both Dutch and international students from a broad range of disciplines.

Customisable study programme

Strong international scope

Specialisation & internship possible

Unique in the world

Why study Spirituality and Religion at the University of Amsterdam?

  • The programme allows you a large degree of freedom to tailor the programme to suit your interests.
  • You will benefit from the fact that this programme has a strong international scope, while it is also rooted in the city of Amsterdam, which has a long history of religious diversity and experimentation and offers plenty of opportunity for excursions and internships.
  • The programme benefits from the unique presence of the Centre for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, the premier centre for the study of Western esotericism in the world, and from the close collaboration with the Embassy of the Free Mind (formerly known as the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica or Ritman Library).
Mirjam Smit
Copyright: Mirjam Smit / FGw
One of my professors refers to Western esotericism as a study about rejected knowledge. Mirjam Smit, student Spirituality and Religion Read the interview


Graduates of the programme can find a job in education, journalism or another writing profession, scientific research, cultural management and leadership positions that require expertise in the field of religious diversity, and especially heterodox, non-institutional forms of religion.

Degree certificate

Spirituality and religion is an accredited degree programme of Theology and Religious Studies. After successful completion of this programme, you will receive a legally accredited Master’s degree in this programme and the title Master of Arts (MA).

Facts & Figures
Degree programme
MA Theology & Religious Studies
Regular study programme
Full-time, part-time
60 ECTS, 12 months
Language of instruction
Starts in
CROHO code
University Quarter