Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam

FAQ

Frequently asked questions and relevant links

FAQ

The pages on our websites will give you a lot of information about studying or doing research at the HHP Centre. On this page you will find most other frequently asked questions. If you cannot find your question on this page, please get in touch.

Find here an overview of the frequently asked questions, per topic:

Fees and funding

Yes, but how much depends on your nationality (passport) and on a number of other factors.  For more information about tuition fees, please take a look at this page of the UvA website. For graduate programmes (MA and Research MA) you can find more details about application and admission here.

Yes, there are a number of possibilities for scholarships and student loans. For graduate programmes (MA and RMA), the Graduate School of Humanities offers a competitive scholarship for international students of excellence (known as an AMS scholarship). There are also special student loan services offered by the UvA to students from the United States and Canada. Check with the Graduate School of Humanities for more information.

Requirements for admission

The basic requirements set down by the College of Humanities (for admission to BA programmes) and the Graduate School of Humanities (for admission to MA programmes) apply to our courses as well. As usual, you should always check with these authorities for details. If you are an international student coming for our MA, please note that the one-year and two-year (“Research MA”) options require different grade averages.  And don’t forget that grades are not everything: you will also be assessed on the basis of your motivation letter and (for the Research MA) research proposal.

Since you are unlikely to have a formal educational background in the study of esotericism, we are looking for evidence that you have an idea of what it means to study esotericism from an academic point of view. While we conduct our research and teaching respectful of the people – in the past and present – who make up the currents and movements we study, the HHP Centre is committed to developing our knowledge of the historical and discursive conditions that led to the emergence of esoteric currents. In the motivation letter you should mention your previous experiences in the study of esotericism, whether in an academic context or by independent research, and motivate your interest in this area of study. For an application to the Research MA, a research project is also required. The general focus of the RMA programme is on spirituality and religion, but if you intend to specialize more particularly in the study of esotericism, then we recommend that you submit a research proposal on a chosen subject taken from the study of esotericism. Scholarly dictionaries (such as the Brill’s Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism) may be of help in suggesting possible subjects. The research proposal should include the following elements: title, introduction, research question(s), scientific background, methodology and bibliography (max. 2000 words).

Undergraduate courses on esotericism are still rare in the international academic landscape, so not having followed formal courses in this area of study is not exceptional for our students and in any case it is not a condition for being admitted into our MA and RMA programmes. The specialization on “Spirituality and Esotericism in Western Culture” is part of the “Religion and Spirituality” MA programme.  Ideally, students applying to this programme should possess a BA degree from an accredited university in the humanities or social sciences with a minimum of 30 ECTS (equivalent to a full-time semester of academic studies) taken in the field of Religious Studies or any other area (such as history, cultural studies or art studies) that is pertinent to the study of Spirituality and/or Religion. So, essentially, anyone with a BA in a relevant field in the humanities or social sciences can apply for our MA. To give you an idea: Most of our successful students have a BA in religious studies, history, anthropology, philosophy, cultural studies, literature, or art history. Please also note that admission is not determined solely on your grade average: your motivation letter and (for the Research MA) research proposal will also be important to determine whether you are a suitable candidate. For the formal requirements, always check with the Graduate School of Humanities.

Unless you have a BA from an accredited university, you are not eligible for our MA programmes. Students are expected to follow valid methodologies of the academy (e.g., history, sociology, anthropology) and assignments will be assessed according to academic standards. HHP’s mission is to study the history of Hermetic philosophy and related currents, not to assist individuals with their personal spiritual pursuits.

Yes, there is a possibility, but it depends at this moment on your nationality and on whether you are fluent in Dutch. The University of Amsterdam now offers the possibility to take a “Pre-Master” programme (schakelprogramma, in Dutch) for those students who don’t qualify directly for an MA programme. This may be because their degree is not equivalent to a full BA, but is for instance a vocational degree in applied sciences, such as HBO degrees in the Dutch educational system). The Pre-Master programme for Religious Studies has a number of components in Dutch and is available at this moment only to EU citizens. It is therefore not suitable to students with a non-EU nationality and/or who are not fluent in Dutch. There is no direct application to the Pre-Master programme: in order to be admitted you have to apply for the regular MA programme; the selection committee will then determine if, in case you are not eligible for direct admission to the MA programme, you can be admitted to the Pre-Master programme.

Documents

Don’t worry; if your application is successful, the University of Amsterdam will help you with your visa applications. For more information on moving to the Netherlands, finding housing, registering an address, getting health insurance, etc., check with the Graduate School of Humanities.

Since you are unlikely to have a formal educational background in the study of esotericism, we are looking for evidence that you have an idea of what it means to study esotericism from an academic point of view. While we conduct our research and teaching respectful of the people – in the past and present – who make up the currents and movements we study, the HHP Centre is committed to developing our knowledge of the historical and discursive conditions that led to the emergence of esoteric currents. In the motivation letter you should mention your previous experiences in the study of esotericism, whether in an academic context or by independent research, and motivate your interest in this area of study. For an application to the Research MA, a research project is also required. The general focus of the RMA programme is on spirituality and religion, but if you intend to specialize more particularly in the study of esotericism, then we recommend that you submit a research proposal on a chosen subject taken from the study of esotericism. Scholarly dictionaries (such as the Brill’s Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism) may be of help in suggesting possible subjects. The research proposal should include the following elements: title, introduction, research question(s), scientific background, methodology and bibliography (max. 2000 words).

Study programs

The HHP Centre has two funded PhD positions, that are available on a regular basis with open application calls (roughly every four years). To know more about this and other options, please see PhD Opportunities.

Unfortunately, we do not offer any regular post-doc positions. That is not to say that it is impossible to work as a postdoctoral researcher at the HHP Centre; it only means that if you wish to do so, you need to find the funding by yourself, for instance with a grant or a funding scheme. If you have the financial backing already, and want to know if we can host you as a resident postdoctoral fellow, please get in touch with our secretary and/or one of our staff members. Note also that three-month Junior and Senior Research Fellowships are available each year from the University of Amsterdam’s Vossius Centre.

There are options for part-time study. For more information about this, browse the dedicated pages in the UvA website for our BA and MA programmes.

During the recent Covid-19 pandemic, many of our courses were exceptionally offered online. With the start of the new academic year (2021/2022) the expectation is that we return to our regular on-site teaching setting. All of our courses normally require physical presence. Participation in classes and contributions in the form of oral presentations are part of the evaluation methods that we use and constitute an integral part of our teaching philosophy.

Language

Not necessarily. In some cases (for instance if you obtained your BA degree in the Netherlands or in an English-speaking country) you may be exempted from submitting a certificate to be admitted into an English MA programme at the Faculty of Humanities. If, on the other hand, the exemption is not applicable to your case, you will need to document your language proficiency through an IELTS, CAE, or a TOEFL test. For up-to-date information about language proficiency requirements, check with the Graduate School of Humanities.

The Religious Studies BA programme is for the most part in Dutch, and it is not advisable to sign up for it without prior Dutch language skills. All the BA courses we offer at HHP, however, are in English and we find that international students choose to take them as electives from other programmes (also as a minor), or as part of a student exchange programme (such as Erasmus). Our MA and RMA programmes, on the other hand, are taught entirely in English.

Education

The HHP Centre is currently the only institute in the world to offer a complete academic specialism in Western esotericism, from the BA to the PhD level. Taught by leading specialists in the field, our study programme offers a unique opportunity for students to be at the vanguard of a new and exciting development in the study of Western religion and culture. Find more information about our comprehensive study programme in Western esotericism.

Studying at HHP

Find more information about our comprehensive study programs in Western esotericism from the BA to the PhD level at the HHP Centre.

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.

If you didn’t find your question here or have other inquiry’s , please get in contact with the HHP Centre.

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