MA in Religion and Pluralism, Ancient & Modern


Program Description

How did the Romans view religious-political differences? How did ancient Jewish, Christian, and Muslim authorities use authoritative texts? What potential for pluralism exists in modern monotheisms and secularisms?

The tension between group solidarity and productive relations with ' others' has been part of human history for as long as evidence exists. In Europe, it has played out most enduringly in relations among the monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Today, in the face of mass migration from Muslim regions, questions of political identity and belonging remain bound up with religious affiliation. This one-year degree program focuses on relations between Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the antique world and how these relations have formed our modern society. We will explore concepts as religious pluralism, politics, and their many interfaces globally in particular.

Why study this program in Groningen?

  • An integrated approach of religious pluralism, politics, and their many global interfaces;
  • Focus on the historical context of modern societies;
  • Taught by internationally recognized experts in the field;
  • Opportunity to pursue your own research interests;
  • Expertise on various religions taught at non-denominational university
  • The best MA program in Theology and Religious Studies in the Netherlands.


Year 1

The program consists of one key module on Jews, Christians, and Others: Pluralism and Politics in the Greco-Roman World (10 ECTS), Research Methods (5 ECTS), three electives (5 ECTS each), a thesis (20 ECTS), and a placement (10 ECTS).

The core module 'Jews, Christians, and Others: Pluralism and Politics in the Greco-Roman World' explores the root belonging-categories of ethnos (notional kin-group) and polis from the classical period through the conquests of Alexander and the Romans. How diverse was this constantly changing world and what criteria permitted or constrained what we might call pluralism: tolerance or even support of difference? How did such tolerated variety manifest itself in areas connected with 'religion'?

If you would like to specialize in religious pluralism in the modern world, you can follow electives from the track Religion, Conflict, and Globalization instead of 'Texts of Terror', 'Muslims and non-Muslims' and 'Reception and Re-Use of Authoritative Texts'.


  • Jews, Christians, and Others: Pluralism and Politics in the Greco-Roman World (10 EC)
  • Texts of Terror (5 EC)
  • Historical Methods in Early Christianity (5 EC)
  • Muslims and non-Muslims: The Emergence of the Islamic State in Late Antiquity (5 EC)
  • Reception and Re-Use of Authoritative Texts (5 EC)
  • Internship (10 EC)
  • Master's Thesis + thesis seminar (20 EC)

Study abroad

  • 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.

Entry requirements

Admission requirements

Specific requirements More information
Grade list A grade list of the marks of your bachelor's degree program with an explanation of the followed courses.
Language test Sufficient proficiency in English is required. Minimum requirements: TOEFL 580 paper/237 computer/92 internet or IELTS: 6.5 (6.0 on each part). Native speakers of the English language, as well as Dutch applicants with a VWO certificate, are exempt from this requirement.
Previous education Bachelor's degree in Theology, Religious Studies, Arts, Philosophy or Social Science (e.g. Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology). Depending on your former study and courses a reading package will be provided. We assume that you are aware of the concepts and theoretical discussions outlined in this literature. Students with another bachelor's degree may be admitted via a bridging program.
Written request A letter of motivation to the admissions board, outlining your interest in the program, including your motivation and expectations (max. 1 page), accompanied by a writing sample of an academic paper, preferably your Bachelor's (or Master's) thesis.

Application deadlines

Type of student Deadline Start course
Dutch students 01 May 2020 01 September 2020
EU/EEA students 01 May 2020 01 September 2020
non-EU/EEA students 01 May 2020 01 September 2020

Tuition fees

Nationality Year Fee Program form
EU/EEA 2019-2020 € 2083 full-time
non-EU/EEA 2019-2020 € 8900 full-time
EU/EEA 2020-2021 € 2143 full-time

Job prospects

As a graduate, you can become an adviser and policymaker on interreligious issues and multicultural society. You may work in cultural organizations and companies in the public sector. In addition, you can work in the media. You can become a teacher of religion or philosophy. If you want to pursue an academic career, you can follow this track as a specialization within the Research Master's program.

Job examples

Consulting & Policy

You are able to provide well-founded advice on interreligious issues and multicultural society. You can use this expertise in an advisory position at cultural organizations, in companies or in the public sector. Your knowledge equips you for policymaking positions in this field.

Media & Journalism

The current debate often refers to perceived historical realities. Your expertise in the formative periods of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam enables you to ask critical questions concerning modern-day claims about these religious traditions. You can use your knowledge and skills as an editor at a publishing company, broadcasting company, newspaper or news, and current affairs magazine. You could also work as a freelancer.


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 and Philosophy or Social 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 program.


When you take part in this MA program, you will benefit from the expertise of the scholars in the Department of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Origins. The inclusion of all three traditions exemplifies the department's comparative perspective.

Both teaching and research focus on the formative stages of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, more specifically on their dynamic interrelationship in the context of ancient Near Eastern, Graeco-Roman, and late antique cultures.

Lecturers and their expertise

All staff members bring their own research into teaching in order to prepare graduates for a career at the cutting edge of their chosen specialism.

  • Susanne Luther is an assistant professor of the New Testament. Her expertise lies in the ethics of interpersonal verbal communication in the ancient world and early Christianity.
  • Steve Mason is a Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Religions and Cultures. He specializes in the history and literature of the eastern Mediterranean under Roman rule, particularly of Roman Judea.
  • Mladen Popović is Professor Old Testament and Early Judaism, with special attention to Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. He directs the University’s Qumran Institute, an international hub for the study of the Scrolls and Jews in the Graeco-Roman World. From 2017 he is Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies.
  • Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta is Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity. He specializes in alternative Christianities with a focus on the Nag Hammadi library and the Apocryphal Acts of Apostles.
  • Jacques van Ruiten is the Professor of the Reception History of the Bible. He specializes in biblical interpretation, especially in the ancient world.
  • Clare Wilde is an Assistant Professor of Islamic Origin. She specializes in the Qur’ān in its historical context – particularly the Jews and Christians, known to be its first auditors.

Interdisciplinary approach

All members of the Department deal with the sources of the three monotheistic religions in their historical, social, political, and literary contexts. While fully respecting the role of tradition in each case, we explore these original contexts for new insight. In this program, we are particularly concerned with the actual relations of ancient Jews, Christians, and Muslims with others in their various environments, and when they were in positions of relative weakness or power.

The courses reflect our interdisciplinary approach: in our classes, we work with literary, documentary, and epigraphic texts, alongside iconographical and archaeological sources from Near Eastern, Graeco-Roman, and late antique cultural contexts.

Research Institutes

This MA program connects with the research of:

  • Qumran Institute

Here you can meet like-minded students and researchers from across the university.

Last updated Feb 2020

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

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 astronaut and the first president of the European Central Bank. Geographically, the University is rooted in the Northern part of the Netherlands, a region very close to its heart. Read less
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