How do religions come into being? How do they affect people and societies? What role does religion play in various cultures and conflicts?
You encounter religion in all cultures, all over the world. Worldwide, there are no fewer than 10,000 religious denominations. Religion can be the driving force behind people, influencing their behavior economically, politically, socially and psychologically. Worldwide, but also in the Netherlands, there are many conflicts, sensitivities and political discussions in which religion plays a role. Religious Studies is thus a very topical social degree program that touches on difficult issues. These issues are important to policymakers, to education and to journalists. Religious Studies experts are needed in a world in which religion is a permanent part of everyday life.
The central question you will learn to ask yourself is not to what extent religions are 'true', but how religion affects people's lives and what people do with it. The interaction between religion, culture, and society is the main focus of this bachelor's program. During your studies, you will deepen your knowledge of various aspects of the major religions in the world (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity. and Judaism). You will use different perspectives to analyze religious expressions – texts, rituals, and visual art – and place them in their cultural context. Because there are so many important factors in studying religion in relation to people and society, Religious Studies experts are broadly trained social scientists, with experience in anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science, philosophy, and ethics.
Why study this program in Groningen?
- Best BA Religious Studies program in The Netherlands, at top 100 universities;
- An interdisciplinary program taught entirely in English;
- Staff is internationally recognized for the high quality of research;
- International staff and international classroom;
- Small classes with intensive supervision;
- The program relates the latest research and theories to current developments;
- Taught at non-denominational university;
- Groningen is a vibrant yet safe place to live.
In the first year, you will study the great world religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism). You will consider the historical origin of these religions and their modern-day manifestations. You will be introduced to various approaches to the study of religion, including psychology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy. You will address questions such as: What is a religious experience? What are the claims to truth made by religions?
- Concepts and Methods 1 (7.5 EC)
- Judaism (7.5 EC)
- Anthropology of Religion (7.5 EC)
- Hinduism and Buddhism (7.5 EC)
- Christianity (7.5 EC)
- Psychology and Sociology of Religion (7.5 EC)
- Islam (7.5 EC)
- Religion and Philosophy (7.5 EC)
In the second year you will learn to use different perspectives to analyze religious expressions – texts, rituals, and visual art – and place them in their cultural context. In addition, you will follow lectures on the social impact of religion. What influence does religion have on a secular society? What media do religious groups use to promote their image? Is the role of religion in politics different in the West than in the East? What is the position of women in a migrant community?
- Concepts and Methods 2 (7.5 EC)
- Rituals in Theory and Practice (7.5 EC)
- The Sacred Image (7.5 EC)
- The Text Awakens (7.5 EC)
- Religion, Media and Popular Culture (7.5 EC)
- Religion and Politics (7.5 EC)
- Ethics and Secularity (7.5 EC)
- Religion, Diversity, and Identity (7.5 EC)
In the third year, you can follow course units from other degree programs, study for six months abroad, or follow a placement. You will also conduct research within your chosen specialization, for example among immigrants: Do they experience their religion differently in their new homeland? You will report on your research in your Bachelor's thesis.
- Optional module (7.5 EC, optional)
- Quranic Arabic 1 (7.5 EC, optional)
- Spirituality and Secular Religion (7.5 EC, optional)
- University Minor (15 EC, optional)
- Law and Religion (7.5 EC, optional)
- Quranic Arabic 2 (7.5 EC, optional)
- Religion, Space and Place (7.5 EC, optional)
- Specialization 1: Lived Religion (15 EC, optional)
- Specialization 2: Cultural Impact of Religion (15 EC, optional)
- Bachelor Thesis (10 EC)
- Thesis Seminar (5 EC)
28 hours of class and self-study per week on average.
In the first year, you will study the great world religions and consider the historical origin of these religions and their modern-day manifestations. You will be introduced to various approaches to the study of religion. In the second year, you will learn to use different perspectives to analyze religious expressions. In the third year, you can shape your own program.
- Study abroad is optional
- For an average of 20 weeks
- Maximum of 30 EC
We have various exchange contracts with universities both inside and outside Europe, enabling students to follow part of their degree program at a foreign university. Another option is to take an internship or to do part of the research work abroad.
Choice of degree program check
If you apply before 1 May, our student adviser will contact you to set up a skype meeting to talk about your motivation for and expectations of the bachelor's program in Religious Studies.
|Specific requirements||More information|
|Language test||IELTS: 6.0 (6.0 on each part); TOEFL iBT 80 (minimum 18 speaking, 21 writing) (not for native speakers)|
|Previous education||Dutch VWO diploma, a German Abitur, an International Baccalaureate diploma, a European Baccalaureate or another diploma that is sufficient for acceptance to a Dutch university.|
|IELTS overall band||6|
International students and Dutch students with non-Dutch qualifications are not automatically admitted to a bachelor's degree program at the University of Groningen. The full registration procedure will take longer than for Dutch students with regular Dutch qualifications and consists of three steps: application, admission, and registration.
|Type of student||Deadline||Start course|
|Dutch students||01 May 2021||01 September 2021|
|EU/EEA students||01 May 2021||01 September 2021|
|Non-EU/EEA students||01 May 2021||01 September 2021|
The Dutch government intends to halve the statutory tuition fees for specific groups of first-year bachelor's students starting from the 2018/19 academic year.
If you complete a follow-on Master's degree after your Bachelor's degree, you increase your chances on the job market. If you choose a Master's program at our Faculty, you will do a placement at an organization, institute or company that is involved in religion and culture. Most of our graduates end up in one of seven clear job profiles after gaining a Master's degree:
- Policy & Management
Below you will find a list of the jobs held by our alumni.
- Care: Spiritual carer at a care institution, independent therapist.
- Policy & Management: Policy officer/advisor with a government institution, cultural institution or political party, staff member/advisor for an aid organization, embassy staff, security advisor to the military, etc.
- Education: Religious studies teacher, education officer.
- Academia: Researcher at a university or research institute.
- Culture: Employees at a museum.
- Media: Journalist, editor.
In addition, a significant number of our graduates are self-employed in one of these sectors.
Religion and World-Views Teacher
With a minor in education, you can start as a teacher in Religion and World-Views on secondary schools directly after gaining your BA-degree.
Education and Research
The program directly benefits from cutting-edge research carried out within the three departments of the faculty:
- Jewish, Christian and Islamic Origins. The research and teaching carried out in this department focuses on the formative stages of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Your lecturers study their dynamic interrelationship in the context of ancient Near Eastern, Graeco-Roman, and late antique cultures.
- Comparative Study of Religion. In this department, religion is addressed in all its forms and appearances. Historians, anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists are working together to critically investigate religion as a cultural factor that is so influential in the modern world. Of particular importance for the research and teaching in this department is the critical analysis of constructions of “Eastern” and “Western” forms of religion.
- Christianity and the History of Ideas. The scholars in this department focus on the impact of the Christian intellectual tradition in the past as well as the possibilities of a rapprochement of religion and the secular in our time.
The course units are taught by internationally recognized scholars. They will provide you with an up-to-date overview of the state of the art of the subjects you are studying, often drawing on their own research.
Research Centers and activities
Much of the research connects with the activities of:
- Center for Religion, Conflict, and Globalization
- Center for the Study of Religion and Culture in Asia
- CRASIS: Culture, Religion, and Society in Graeco-Roman Antiquity
- Center for Religion and Heritage
- Qumran Institute
- Agricola Seminar
These centers and research groups regularly invite speakers and organize events where students, Ph.D. students, and staff engage in lively discussions.
About the School
The University of Groningen has a rich academic tradition dating back to 1614. From this tradition arose the first female student and the first female lecturer in the Netherlands, the first Dutch astr ... Read More