Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam

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Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam

Research Master

Research master Religious Studies

Next to the 1-year MA programme, there is also the possibility to apply for a Research MA in two years. The two-year Research MA includes the same electives as the 1-year MA, but has additional core courses and requires taking some extra credits from one of the Dutch national research schools. In addition, students are expected to take individualized tutorials with lecturers from HHP or other research units and will conduct independent research for a longer MA thesis. For more information about the programme, please refer to the UvA website or the UvA Course Catalogue.

Please note that the Research MA programme is selective. You will be considered for admission if you meet the entry requirements and can demonstrate the following knowledge, insight and skills:

  • you have excellent research skills at Bachelor’s level and you are able to conduct research independently (i.e. collecting material, applying theory, and writing a thesis);
  • you have a strong academic interest in the analysis of spirituality and religion in the history of Western culture and in contemporary societies;
  • you have a willingness to engage in interdisciplinary research cutting across methodological and traditional disciplinary boundaries.

You are expected to convincingly demonstrate in the motivation form that your background and academic interest in the field will allow you to successfully complete this study programme.

Currently, one of the core courses (Nature and the Supernatural) is coordinated by a member of the HHP staff (Dr. Peter J. Forshaw). See the page for the 1-year MA for the list of electives.

When: 1st semester, block 1 and 2
Instructor: Dr. P.J. Forshaw
Language of instruction: English

Course description:

In this programme students will gain advanced knowledge about historical and empirical data and theory on the subject, secondary literature and source materials, engagement with research of staff members, advanced presentation skills, and advanced research skills.

Notions of Nature and the Supernatural have been fundamental to human culture since antiquity.
The first half of this course introduces students to cosmogenesis, ideas of nature, myths of creation and accounts of the origin of the world—together with related notions, such as the World of Ideas or the Mundus Imaginalis—from a variety of religious cultures: Babylonian, Egyptian, Ancient Greek, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The second half of the course focuses on a diversity of ideas concerning Intermediary Beings and the Supernatural, again drawing from a variety of cultures, ranging from ancient and medieval beliefs and practices concerning angels and spirits, devils and demons, djinn, ghosts and the undead, to notions of virtual beings in modernity. Students will be expected to participate actively in class, present and discuss articles from the reading list, participate in a student conference at the end of the course, and write an academic paper

Download the study guide:

Studyguide 2023-2024

Education programmes

Bachelor's programme

The Minor Hermetica is a series of three courses on Western esotericism that is offered as part of the Religious Studies BA programme at the UvA.

Bachelor's programme

Please find more detailed information about the Minor Hermetica.

Master's programme

Our Master programme gives students a unique possibility to dive deeper into the history of Western esotericism under the supervision of specialists.

Master's programme

The MA consists of three core modules, focusing on different aspects of Western esotericism, a shorter introductory module and a MA thesis.

Research Master

The two-year Research MA is leading to a Research Master’s degree in Religious Studies and focuses on religious plurality in the Western world

Research Master

Read more about the possibilities for a two-year Research MA as part of the Religious Studies program of the UvA.
Research Master

How to enrol

How to enrol

The HHP Centre is fully integrated in the University of Amsterdam’s educational system. Read more about how to enroll in our teaching programmes.


Our BA courses are taught as part of the BA programme “Religiewetenschappen.” Our MA programme exists in a one-year and a two-year variety. The one-year option is “Spirituality and Religion.”The two-year option is the Research Master (RMA) “Religious Studies.” The study of esotericism is one of the specialization areas for both options.

PhD opportunities & Short courses

PhD opportunities

The HHP Centre has two regular PhD positions, one focusing on esotericism in the early modern period, the other on modern and contemporary esotericism.
As a rule, both positions will become vacant every four years, at which point there will be a formal call for applications. Both regular positions are occupied at present (2020), but other ways exist to do a PhD as well. 

Short courses

In July 2023 HHP offers a summer school programme Arcane Worlds, New Frontiers in the Study of Esotericism.

The goal of this course is to bring together participants who are passionate about the esoteric and the occult, enabling them to delve deeply into how the studies, traditions, and related currents can be comprehended through developing a flexible yet rigorous scholarly framework.

View the information here.

Student community & FAQ

Do you have any questions about studying at the HHP Centre?

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Bachelor's programme & How to enroll

Our Bachelor programme consists of four separate modules that deal with Western esotericism from antiquity to the present, as part of the Religious Studies program of the UvA. For the complete programme, see the  UvA Course Catalogue 2020-2021. As a rule, the language of instruction for these courses is Dutch, but there are exceptions.

Bachelor's programme

Our Bachelor programme is part of the Religious Studies program of the UvA. For the complete program Spirituality and Religion, see the UvA Course Catalogue 2020-2021.

How to enroll

The HHP Centre is fully integrated in the University of Amsterdam’s educational system. Read more about how to enroll in our teaching programmes.

Master's programs


For the complete programme Spirituality and Religion, see the UvA Course Catalogue 2020-2021.

Research Master two-year

For the complete programme, see the UvA Course Catalogue 2020-2021