What role does religion and spirituality play in our experience of health and wellbeing? How does the biomedical focus of current healthcare practice affect us?

This interdisciplinary degree programme will examine what it means to be ill or healthy in diverse, individualized and highly technological societies, from psychological, cultural, ethical, and political perspectives. Not only do religious, cultural, political, physical, and technological diversity influence how we try to recover or maintain our health, they also influence what we think 'health' is in the first place.

This track within the Master's Programme in Theology and Religious Studies has two specializations: 'Spiritual Care [Geestelijke Verzorging]' and 'Ethics and Diversity'.

The specialization in Ethics and Diversity imparts the academic knowledge and skills to examine the anthropological, sociological, and ethical dimensions of health and well-being. This specialization is taught in English.

The specialization in Spiritual Care imparts the academic and practical knowledge and skills needed to examine the psychological, ethical, and spiritual dimensions of health and well-being, enabling you to become a registered spiritual caregiver [geestelijk verzorger]. This specialization is mainly taught in Dutch.

Student profile

You are interested in the intersection between people's search for health and wellbeing, as well as the techniques, rituals, and practices that religious contexts can offer. You want to know how health and wellbeing can be understood differently across cultural and religious contexts, as well as historical periods - and what the ethical implications of this are. You enjoy the intellectual challenge of combining insights from across psychology, anthropology, philosophy and religious studies.


The MA track in Religion, Health, and Wellbeing consists of:

  • An introductory course unit (5 ECTS)
  • A course unit on Ethics and Healthcare (5 ECTS)
  • A course unit on Research Methods (5 ECTS).
  • Three electives, depending on your specialization (15 ECTS).

The introductory course outlines some of the basic theories and concepts that help us think through the intersections between religion, health, and wellbeing from psychological, anthropological, and philosophical perspectives. Case studies will be taken mainly from the field of Spiritual Care.

The course unit in Ethics and Healthcare explores the moral issues surrounding various forms of intervention in human life. The bounds of technical possibilities are constantly shifting. How do ethicists discuss pre-natal screening, euthanasia, dignity in the process of dying? And how do we define what is good care within specific contexts? Issues such as relationality, vulnerability, and embodiment in relation to processes of signification will be discussed from an ethics of care perspective.

Programme options

Ethics and Diversity (specialization)

In addition to the compulsory courses, you will take three additional course units.

These are:

  • Religion, Gender, and the Body;
  • The End of Life (historical and ethical issues);
  • Healing, Possession, and Illness in Religion and Spirituality, or Psychopathology and Religion

Spiritual Care (specialization)

Alongside the compulsory course units, you also follow course units in Spiritual Care and Psychopathology and Religion, as well as an intensive placement.

How do people give their lives a sense of purpose and how do they process significant events? At some time in our life, we will all face decisions concerning health and illness, life and death. As a student of Spiritual Care, you learn to support people in crisis situations by counseling them about purpose and spirituality.

You will be taught religious psychology, psychopathology, ethics, and philosophy. In addition, you will explore pastoral and spiritual care in contemporary society and the place of spiritual carers in primary health care or in a healthcare institution. Students with no previous education in theology or religious science will have to follow a pre-Master's programme first.

Master's Honours Programme (honors program)

The Master's Honours Programme was developed especially for students who want to get more from their studies. The programme of 15 ECTS is followed in addition to your regular Master's programme.

It is a one-year interdisciplinary programme that is designed to introduce students to various aspects of leadership.The theme of leadership is explored from various angles in the Masterclasses. Leadership skills are the focus in the Leadership Labs and Workshops. The Master's Honours Programme concludes with a Master Work – a project of your choosing that you design and implement.

Job prospects

This Master's degree qualifies you to work in a care institution, such as a hospital, nursing home or psychiatric hospital, for example as a spiritual carer. You could also become a police officer in public health, global (mental) health and healthcare, or a consultant on a medical-ethical committee. These days, it is becoming increasingly common for spiritual carers to start their own practice.

Job examples

  • Spiritual Care

    During your degree programme, you will study a wide range of religious traditions and personal convictions. You will learn how to counsel groups and individuals, helping them to find meaning and stability in their lives. You can also train company employees and offer advice and opinions at a policy level. Spiritual Carers can find jobs in care institutions, for example, general or psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes or institutions for people with a mental disability. These days, it is becoming increasingly common for spiritual carers to start their own practice instead of working for an institution.

  • Policy Advisor Health(care)

    You will gain knowledge and understanding of ethical questions, diversity, and health, based on case studies and care practice. You can work as a police officer for the government, a patient organization or a care institution, or in an advisory position, for example on a medical-ethical committee.

  • Teacher

    Once you have completed this Master's programme you will have enough knowledge of the subject to become a secondary school teacher in the subject of Religious Studies. You could also opt for a position in higher vocational education, for example teaching Theology at a university of applied sciences. As you also need didactic skills as a teacher, it is advisable to do a Master's in Education after you have completed your regular Master's programme or follow this track within the two-year Master's programme in Education.

  • Academic Research

    Traditional forms of religion are making way for new ways of searching for meaning and purpose in your life. How do modern opinions of health and well-being fit in? What is the role of spirituality and religious convictions? How do present-day dilemmas and divergent ideas about these dilemmas affect both our wellbeing and the way we organize our care system? What is the function of professional spiritual counseling in our current healthcare system? This Master's programme will equip you to answer these and other questions. The two-year Research Master's degree programme also offers a specialization in Religion, Health, and Wellbeing. The Research Master's is the best way to prepare for a career in academic research.

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This course is Campus based
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12 months
2,060 EUR
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