|Specialization of:||Theology & Religious Studies|
|Title:||MA Theology & Religious Studies|
Globalization has brought about a pluralization of the religious sphere, bringing other ‘world’ religions, such as Islam and different Asian traditions, to the West. The religious other is no longer an abstract figure but is seen in all her concreteness as neighbor, colleague, friend, spouse, etc.
To increase social cohesion in society as a whole and more specifically in schools, (socio-political) organizations and companies, we need experts with the knowledge and skills to build bridges between people from different (faith) traditions. The growth of religious and interreligious literacy is necessary to foster interreligious relations.
Through classes, reading assignments, visits to local communities, and an analysis of case studies, students will be prepared to effectively become interreligious bridge-builders in an increasingly multi-religious world. By the end of this multidisciplinary program that involves an internship and writing a master's thesis, they will have developed the knowledge and skills needed to work in a multi-religious context and bring about a positive transformation.
This master's programme is attractive to any who work in multireligious settings who wish to build interreligious relations within their schools, work or community environments.
Download the flyer.
Our neighborhoods, schools and universities, working places and group of friends and acquaintances are becoming increasingly diverse. It is clear that religious diversity is a fact that poses real challenges for society. To increase social cohesion between people with various religious and non-religious backgrounds, we need ‘border-crossers,’ willing to participate in various forms of interreligious learning. Most policy makers agree that education, especially, carries a huge responsibility in promoting and fostering the competencies of interreligious literacy. This programme seeks to form students who, not unlike the Greek God Hermes, have the flexibility to move between different worlds and translate their convictions in a meaningful way to those who believe differently.
The Building Interreligious Relations programme requires master students to complete 60 credits:
Building Interreligious Relations 1 (6ECTS)
In this first module, we will delve deeply into the complexities related to the meeting between religions, so that students learn to get a better grasp of the deeper lying mechanisms that affect this meeting (for better or for worse). We will address fundamental questions touching upon:
These fundamental questions will be related to concrete challenges in different settings:
Building Interreligious Relations 2 (6ECTS)
This module deals with contemporary local and international grass root projects focused on building interreligious relations. The key question of this course is 'what is a good BIR-project?' We will examine theory, explore good (and bad) practices and develop criteria that may help students to develop their own project, which they will present in class.
Hermeneutics + Scriptural Reasoning (6ECTS)
In this course you will be taught both philosophical hermeneutics and postcolonial, intercultural and feminist hermeneutical approaches. The course deals with the following questions:
In this module students will also participate in a practice called Scriptural Reasoning. Scriptural Reasoning (SR) aims at building interreligious communion through a praxis of reading and studying the sacred texts (scripture) together. During a period of six weeks, students will meet on a regular basis and engage in this communal practice of interreligious reading.
Research Skills (6ECTS)
Research Skills’ will deepen your understanding of methodology. In this course you will also be trained in the philosophy of science, argumentation, and you will write your thesis proposal.
Master Seminar (6ECTS)
The ‘master seminar’ is an integral part of the whole master programme. During your internship and writing your thesis, you will be coached and supervised within the ‘master seminar’. Students develop and discuss a portfolio of their academic and professional qualities. This module is designed to run parallel to the other modules during the whole study-year in order to assure an individual accompaniment as well as a rich interdisciplinary and interreligious exchange among students and in dialogue with lecturers from various fields.
Internship (12 ECTS)
The teaching staff have a list of internship opportunities, however students may also suggest other opportunities. Research oriented students may contribute to one of the department’s research projects (e.g. on dual belonging or inter-religious spirituality or multiple religious participation). Students who have taken an interest in interreligious education may do their internship in one of multireligious schools in the Netherlands others help to facilitate interfaith initiatives between local religious communities. Some students go abroad for their internship.
You can chose 1 elective that matches your specific interest, e.g. philosophy of Religion, Buddhist Spiritual Care, Media, ….
This programme seeks to prepare students effectively to become interfaith leaders in our increasingly multi-religious world. You will not only learn critically analyze different ‘theological, philosophical and ideological perspectives’ on the meeting between religions, you will also will also participate in various dialogue activities aimed at developing interreligious literacy. Thus, you will acquire the skills to become border-crossers and bridge-builders and these skills are increasingly viewed as a vital component for employees who seek work. Upon receiving your degree you will be qualified for challenging career prospects in any institution that demands interreligious competencies: schools, hospitals, governmental and non-governmental institutions as well as companies. Religious professionals and leaders will also benefit from this programme.
If you want to become a secondary school teacher in the Netherlands, you are directly eligible for admittance in the (Dutch) Masters Leraar VHO Mens- en Maatschappijwetenschappen:Godsdienst/Levensbeschouwing.
On a regular basis, international scholars are invited to interact with students and to give a keynote.
Invited Guest Speakers (2012-2015)
Faculty Religion and Theology
Though the Faculty of Religion and Theology, VU Amsterdam remains strongly rooted in the reformed tradition and is strongly committed to Christian tradition, since 2000 it has become a center where not only other protestant denominations are welcomed (Mennonites, Baptists, Pentecostals, evangelicals etc.) but also Hindus and Buddhists, as well as Muslims.
Students are trained to become religious scholars, theologians, pastors, imams or Buddhist and Hindu spiritual care givers. In any case, this faculty has become a meeting place for believers belonging to different religious traditions and Christian denominations. It is a daily challenge to do justice to the particular confessional commitments of our students while at the same time creating an educational environment of dialogical openness. In this context people with their different religious backgrounds need to learn to accept this situation of diversity, tolerate and respect confessional differences, deal with faith-related conflicts and (hopefully) come to regard the plurality of worldviews as an opportunity to learn with and from each other
Marianne Moyaert is Full Professor and Chair of Comparative Theology and the Hermeneutics of Interreligious Dialogue at the VU Amsterdam. She recently obtained a five-year research grant to explore further the phenomenon of interreligious ritual sharing. She has authored three books, including In Response to the Religious Other; Ricoeur and the Fragility of Interreligious Encounters (2014) and Fragile Identities: Towards a Theology of Interreligious Hospitality (2011). In addition, she has published over fifty articles, approximately half of which appeared in peer-reviewed journals, in both English and Dutch. She is specialized in Jewish-Christian Dialogue after the Holocaust.
Interview with Marianne Moyaert (in Dutch) - Leren bouwen aan interreligieuze relaties
Interview with Marianne (in Dutch) - Dialoog bij Universiteit
Interview with Marianne Moyaert (in English) - Towards a Liturgical Turn in Comparative Theology?
Gerdien Bertram-Troost finished her PdH-project in December 2006. Her research was about religious identity development in adolescence. She's especially interested in the way schools for secondary education effect or can effect this development. After finishing her PhD Gerdien worked as a post-doc researcher. Her work was closely related to the European project REDCo, which focused on Religion in Education as a matter of Dialogue or Conclict. Gerdien is co-editor of two international books in which the findings of both the qualitative and a quantitative research within the framework of RedCo are described. Since April 2009 Gerdien has a part time position as teacher/researcher at the Faculty of Psychology and Education.
Manuela Kalsky is the director of the Theological Research Center of the Dominicans DSTS and professor in Theology and Society at the VU Amsterdam. She created a multimedia website, looking for a new ‘we’ in the Netherlands: www.nieuwwij.nl, and just started a new research project on ‘multiple religious belonging’. Manuela Kalsky is a well known speaker about issues related to multicultural and multi-religious society.
Annewieke Vroom, PhD (MA Philosophy MA Religious Studies) is specialised in the thinking on God in religious traditions, especially the Buddhist-Christian dialogue. She has a longstanding specialty in dialogical teaching and enhancing dialogue in religiously diverse groups, for which she received a Good Practice education prize from VU Amsterdam in 2008. Also, in 2007 and 2014 she was nominated by the students of the Faculty of Theology as Best Teacher. Before working at the university she worked as an identity coach guiding primary schools in how to deal with their multi-religious identity.
"As a lawyer I specialized in Law & Politics of International Security. In light of the refugee crisis, radicalization amongst our youth and the general fear of religious extremism, I felt the strong urge to deepen my understanding of religion and to invest my time and energy in the necessary knowledge and skills for me to become a mediator between different groups in society.
How can we facilitate a dialogue in the public sphere which is not filled up with populist rightwing or leftwing one-liners? How can we take the fear of religion serious within society if we are not willing to create a space in which we truly listen to different groups in society? These questions and many more pushed me to choose the specialization Building Interreligious Relations. I have absolutely found theoretical and practical answers to these questions and discovered many more questions and answers. Perhaps unexpectedly, I have also learned so much about myself and how I will be able to position myself as a mediator and a bridge builder.
For my internship I will move to Alexandria, Egypt where I will be involved in the day to day activities of the Jesuits cultural center and organize two dialogue events. I hope to learn more about the great work this cultural center does in the complex religious landscape in Egypt and get inspired on how to include the cultural sector much more in my work when I return to the Netherlands."
Georgia Carter — Reflections on the Building Interreligious Relations Master’s
Why did you want to study at the VU?
"After visiting the Netherlands for the first time and falling in love with the country as a whole, I was determined to find a way to pursue my graduate studies here. Having just completed my Bachelor’s in Religious Studies, I was very impressed and intrigued by the numerous concentrations of study available at the VU within the Religious Studies Master’s programme. As an exchange study, my home university in Canada had a pre-existing bilateral agreement with the VU, which encouraged me to explore the option of attending even further."
"I made an initial inquiry with the International Office at the VU, and was immediately met with helpfulness and interest in my intended course of study. These first interactions greatly influenced my decision to pursue my studies at the VU."How did you find the Master's programme BIR, and why would you advise others to also follow this programme?
Something about Amsterdam, as an international environment?
"Amsterdam is a wonderful city to study in as an international student. There is always so much to do and see, while also remaining accessible and welcoming. The city is incredibly culturally diverse, and I have found the people I have met to be extremely helpful and welcoming during my time here. It is also a delight to be able to live in a city with such a rich history, where there is something new to learn around every corner."
Coordinator of the Building Interreligious Relations master's programme specialization:
Prof. Marianne Moyaert
Meet us at the next Master's Event!
VU Public Relations Office:
Please phone us at +31 (0)20 598 5000 (Monday - Friday, 9:00 to 17:00). You may also e-mail us at: email@example.com
Admission is based on a strict selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application.
In order to gain admission to one of our Master’s programmes, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 ECTS or equivalent.
Specific admission requirements for the Master’s Programme Theology and Religious Studies, specialization in Building Interreligious Relations:
Students with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology or Religious Studies from a university abroad will only be admitted following an assessment of their degree by the admissions board.
Students with Bachelor’s degrees in other disciplines are also welcome to apply, provided that the degree obtained is from a research-oriented university. Before the start of the academic year the student needs to have an intake with the coordinator of the specialization. The aim of this intake is to discuss possible deficiency in theological knowledge of the student.
You must always present official test results proving your proficiency in English. Only students who have completed a full high school or bachelor’s degree in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, or Australia may be exempted. We require a TOEFL score (score 580 paper based, score 237 computer based or score 92 internet based) or an IELTS score of 6.5 overall band score. Cambridge English: Cambridge Proficiency Exam A, B, C, or Cambridge Advanced Exam A, B, C.
Please check out the Admission page for the general requirements.
If you have read the admission criteria and feel you are eligible for admission, please take the following steps to submit your application. Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required.
Step 1: Meet admission criteria
Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online
Please prepare the following documents. All documents should be provided in English.
After having prepared the required documents, please follow the online application procedure. After you have completed the application, our international student advisors will contact you via e-mail.
Step 3: Await decision on admission
The admission board will review your application as soon as it is complete. Normally this takes about four weeks, but it might take longer in busy periods so be sure to apply as soon as possible. If you gain admission, you will receive a letter of conditional admission by email. You can start planning your move to Amsterdam!
Step 4: Finalize your registration and move to Amsterdam!
Make sure to finalize your registration as a student before the start of the programme. Here you will find an explanation what to do after admission. When all conditions are met you will be ready to start your programme at VU Amsterdam!
As an international student planning to study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, you can apply for a variety of grants and bursaries.
Additional Scholarships offered by the faculty
Mijntje Pruissen Scholarship
Mijntje Pruissen Scholarship is a Merit scholarship programme for strongly motivated international students with excellent study results. Eligible candidates must be able to prove their academic excellence, and they must be admitted to the Master’s programme in Theology and Religious Studies (all specializations, and both the one- and the two-year Master’s programme). This concerns English taught Master’s programmes only.
Students eligible for this scholarship are students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who are applying for an English taught Master’s programme in Theology and Religious Studies at the Faculty of Religion and Theology. Students with the Dutch nationality and/or a Dutch degree (if the Dutch degree is used for admission) are not eligible for admission.
The scholarship amounts to € 5,000. Application deadline: April 1st.
For more information or questions about the procedure please send an e-mail to: Stipo Jeleč, firstname.lastname@example.org
Scholarship for second master students
Students who wish to pursue a second master, can apply for a Scholarship provided by the faculty. This scholarship covers a large part of the tuition fee for a second master. More information and application procedure
Coordinator of the Building Interreligious Relations master's programme specialization
Prof. Marianne Moyaert, email@example.com
For detailed questions about the Master’s programmes or the application procedure
Contact your International Student Advisor at the International Office:
T: + 31 (0)20 598 8920
Meet us at the next Master's Event!
VU Public Relations Office
Please phone us at +31 (0)20 598 5000 (Monday - Friday, 9:00 to 17:00). You may also e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION
1 year (full-time) / 2 years (part-time)
July 15th for Dutch and EU-students. April 1st for non-EU students.
specialization of Theology & Religious Studies (1 year)
FIELD OF INTEREST