The Master's programme Western Esotericism puts you at the vanguard of a new and exciting development in the study of Western culture and religion, focusing in particular on the critical historical and analytical study of its esoteric movements.
Esoteric movements in Western culture
The Master's programme Western Esotericism focuses on the critical historical and analytical study of esoteric movements in Western culture. Against the backdrop of the Gnostic and hermetic currents of late Antiquity and the history of the so‑called ‘occult sciences' (notably astrology, alchemy, magic), you will explore the revival of Hermetic philosophy during the early Renaissance, the so-called ‘occult philosophy' and its later offshoots (alchemy, Paracelsianism and Rosicrucianism). The programme will also introduce you to Jewish and Christian Kabbalah and the movements arising from it, theosophical and illuminist currents, and the various forms of occultism and related movements during the 19th and 20th centuries, including the New Age movement.
Studying Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam
The academic study of Western Esotericism has flourished in recent years, with a veritable cornucopia of new publications. The University of Amsterdam (UvA) is the first university in the world to offer a coherent programme devoted to this specialised field. The programme, therefore, represents a unique opportunity for students to be at the vanguard of a new and exciting development in the study of Western culture and religion.
An added advantage of studying Western Esotericism at the UvA is the city's Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica. This library contains the world's best collection of materials (books, manuscripts and early prints) on Hermetic philosophy and related currents, and provides excellent study facilities.
Western Esotericism 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 Theology and Religious Studies and the title Master of Arts (MA).
The Master's in Western Esotericism is a one-year programme in which you explore the influence of modernisation and secularisation processes on the development of esoteric movements and Western culture and society as a whole. The programme comprises four core courses and a Master's Thesis project.
The Master's programme Western Esotericism comprises 60 ECTS credits:
- 42 credits for core courses
- 18 credits for a Master's thesis.
The Job Market
As a Western Esotericism graduate, you will have developed unique skills relevant to a career in the field of religious studies, as well as a range of employment opportunities where a critical, curious, and academically-trained mind is essential. The programme prepares students for a career in teaching, journalism or another writing profession, as well as an advisory position in a public organisation or government institution.
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