Master of Society, Law and Religion (Leuven)


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

This master's program was started in response to the growing salience of the interaction of society, law, and religion in our multi-religious and yet highly secularised global world.

The Master of Society, Law, and Religion provides a unique introduction to the strategic area of society, law, and religion and brings you in contact with outstanding international experts in the field.

What is the 'Master of Society, Law and Religion' all about?

The program aims at enabling students to gain a solid and critical knowledge on key issues such as the place of religion in the public sphere, the debate on secularism, the role of the State vis-à-vis religion, church and relationships, human rights and religion, European and international law and religion, and domestic and international politics of religious freedom. Taught at the Faculty of Canon Law, the program is particularly sensitive to the autonomy of religions, religious self-government, and religious laws.

While all students receive basic training in the law of the Roman Catholic Church, the program embraces the law of other Christian communities and includes classes in Islamic law.

The program can be taken as a self-standing program or as a gateway to the Master of Canon Law. This initial master's program can be followed on a full-time or part-time basis. In order to facilitate students wishing to combine education with employment or social engagement, the program allows for distance learning and the spreading of examinations. The large choice of subjects from different faculties enables students to tailor their educational experience, to their interests, needs, and projects.

Assets: enriching environment, condensed teaching, and internationally renowned staff

Students who chose to follow the program on-site in Leuven benefit from the university's enriching environment as well as the resources of the faculties of Canon Law, Law and Theology and Religious Studies.

"Concentrated teaching weeks" are organized once every semester and are an excellent opportunity to build a community of international experts while getting acquainted with international visiting professors.

The program provides an interdisciplinary education and its teaching staff are drawn from law, social sciences and religious studies.

Is this the right program for me?

The Master of Society, Law, and Religion suits students who are genuinely interested in the interaction of society, law, and religion and who are willing to engage critically with the issues at stake. Any background in the area of law, social sciences, and religious studies is fit for the purpose, provided that the student is ready to cope with the various methodologies and languages.

Thanks to extensive course offerings in the area of Roman Catholic canon law, the program also suits those students preparing to enter the Master of Canon Law program with the aim of achieving the canonical degree 'Iuris Canonici Licentiatus' (JCL).


  1. Students are conversant in Roman Catholic Canon law and the law practiced by other Christian denominations. They are capable of interpreting and applying the norms of canon law in specific circumstances. In addition, depending on the situation, they are able to identify the norms of canon law applicable to these particular circumstances.
  2. Students acquire basic knowledge of the main disciplines of theology and the history of canon law, which serve as the reference frameworks within which the sources of canon law are interpreted.
  3. Students are able to independently master the program’s contents and apply these to specific questions or issues.
  4. Students acknowledge the fact that the law is influenced by culture and religion, and that it evolves over time. During the program, students come face to face with fellow students who have religious and cultural backgrounds different than their own: this contributes to the student’s general education.
  5. Students acquire technical expertise that, depending on their selection, consists of acquiring the skill to understand and interpret the Code of Canon Law (option 2A), or of mastering the method or content of other disciplines (option 2B).
  6. Students acquire a preliminary understanding of the complex problems present in the interplay between secular law and human rights on the one hand, and public perception of religion on the other.
  7. Within their field of expertise, students are able to identify new questions and challenges, are able to arrive at creative, well-founded solutions to these, and translate them into appropriate, relevant research questions.
  8. Students are capable of personally and critically contemplating complex issues within their field of expertise. They are able to translate these into appropriate, relevant research questions and gather relevant academic sources in this respect. They are able to develop and conduct a research project.
  9. Students are able to conduct academic research and present it in written form.

Career opportunities

Religion is increasingly acknowledged as a crucial factor in areas such as politics and the economy, social and corporate management, culture, employment, education, health care, international cooperation, and conflict resolution.

Candidates for positions in these areas, in the private or public sector, as well as those already employed, will benefit from gaining a topical knowledge in the field.

Graduates can further develop their education at the Faculty of Canon Law by moving on to the Master in Canon Law or the doctoral program in Society, Law, and Religion.

With the apostolic constitution Veritatis Gaudium, new opportunities were created for people who are open for a more condensed training in canon law. In the future, they will be able to take on certain tasks for the ecclesiastical courts.

Start your career, during your studies

During your bachelor's and master's program you can already shape your own profile by choosing a certain specialization, studying abroad (Erasmus), doing a work placement, or starting your own business.

The Student Career Center is happy to put you on the right track towards your first work experience. The center also coaches you in the search for an interesting job and helps you with job interviews. For students wanting to start their own business, KU Leuven also has Lcie, the KU Leuven community that encourages students with innovative and entrepreneurial ideas.

Don’t know where to start? The Student Career Center's databases contain offers for jobs, volunteer work, innovation projects, and student jobs. You can also visit one of the events organized by the Career Center.

Last updated Mar 2020

About the School

KU Leuven is an institution for research and education with international appeal. All programmes at this University are based on the innovative research of its scientists and professors and are ranked ... Read More

KU Leuven is an institution for research and education with international appeal. All programmes at this University are based on the innovative research of its scientists and professors and are ranked among the top 100 in the world. Read less
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