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Structure of the curriculum

The Master’s programme in Theology has a course load of 180 EC* (three years). All the courses are 10 EC and the Master’s thesis is 20 EC.

The structure of the programme differs slightly depending on your choice of specialisation. Please see the programme outlines of the specialisations for more details. The four core disciplines are:

Each curriculum consists of the following components (year 1 and 2)

Discipline seminars

In the first and second year, you attend at least three of the four seminars that are offered by the four core disciplines of Biblical Exegesis, History of Church and Theology, Practical Theology and Systematic Theology.

You can replace one seminar by another seminar or specialisation course, to the discretion of the examination board. Coordinators will help you select your electives to make sure the best possible programme is constructed for you.

Specialisation courses

In the first year you choose a specialisation (10 EC) in the course for which you will write a thesis in the second year. Specialisation courses will be given as individual tutorials. You should contact the lecturer of the specialisation course of your choice at the end of the first semester.

Specialisation courses include:

  • Exegesis of the Old Testament (Prof. E. Van Wolde)

(1)  Study of elementary reading list of Biblical Literature, Biblical Text and Versions, Social History and Bible, Ancient Near East. 
(2) Participation to the research group Old Testament. Grammar helps us improve our understanding of verbal meanings and constructions. Especially when European languages use their grammars to construe a world view different from that in Semitic languages. Dutch, English, German, do not have a middle Voice, only active and passive Voices. What does it mean to have a middle Voice such as the Niphal in Biblical Hebrew? Do we understand words and text better acknowledging their middle value?

  • Exegesis of the New Testament (Prof. J. Van der Watt)

We will analyse central texts of the New Testament whilst focusing on the linguistic, literary, historical and theological dimensions of these ancient source texts of Christianity. The texts will firstly be read in light of their original background and then in the context of their present-day implications. The focus of the New Testament texts (i.e. ethics, Christology, soteriology, etc.) may vary from year to year.

  • Church History (Dr. G. Ackermans)

The specialisation Church History focuses on the topics of the research programme of the Chair in Church History: discipline in the Roman Catholic Church, orthodoxy and heterodoxy. We will cover all periods of Church History. Individual tutorials with reading assignments will offer you the necessary methodical training and opportunities for methodological reflection and prepare you for writing a Master's thesis in the field of Church History - for which you may suggest topics for papers.

  • Canon Law (Dr. G. Ackermans)

The specialisation Canon Law focuses on the present state as well as on the history of the judicial system of the Roman Catholic Church. Individual tutorials with reading assignments will provide you with a further introduction in Canon Law and its history in order to prepare you for a Master's thesis. You may suggest topics for papers, for instance: marriage annulment procedures or the evolution of the Inquisition.

  • Dogmatic theology (Dr. E. Hense)

Dogmatic theology is the study of Christian theological concepts and doctrines. It offers reflections on the development of Christian doctrine through different historical periods, the diversity of concepts of faith in different cultural contexts and the importance of theology in public life. In tutorials and reading seminars, you will read primary sources from modern theology (e.g. K. Rahner, E. Schillebeeckx, J. Metz and the documents from the Second Vatican Council) as well as contemporary authors of public theology (e.g. J. Milbank, G. Ward, W. Cavanaugh, M. Stackhouse).

  • Theological Ethics (Dr. C. Hübenthal)

In this course you will firstly improve your knowledge of the historical development of moral theology and theological ethics. This does not imply a simple repetition of well-known views such as the ethics of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas or Luther, but rather a reconstruction of the intrinsic dynamics that led to the formation of modern-day theological ethics. While analysing these positions, we will encounter a range of systematic problems, some of which we will deal with in the second part of the course. These problems include the relationship between God's and human freedom, the particularity or universality of Christian ethics and the proprium christianum.

  • Pastoral Theology (Prof. C. Hermans)

The empirical study of the transformation of practice in pastoral theology is a locus theologicus, i.e. a source for theological thinking. The Second Vatican Council encourages us to "scrutinize the signs of the times" and to "interpret them in the light of the Gospel" (Gaudium et Spes, 4). You may therefore specialise in a number of areas. How are ultimate concerns, contingency and spiritual transformation expressed in life narratives? How can merged congregations build a new 'story of our church'? How does the transmission of religious identity express itself in different institutions, notably family, Catholic schools and the Church?

  • Missiology (Prof. F. Wijsen)

According to the Second Vatican Council, the Church is missionary by nature (Ad Gentes 2). Missiology is the study of the theory and practice of mission in past and present. But what is mission? And how do scholars study mission? Assuming that you have acquired initial knowledge of mission studies in your BA programme, this specialisation focuses on the history, anthropology, theology and pedagogy of mission. We conclude by introducing research methods in view of a MA thesis or Ph.D. proposal.

Elective courses

In the first year, you must take at least one of the following courses:

  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Greek & Hebrew
  • Religious Studies

Coordinators will help you select your electives, to make sure the best possible programme is constructed for you.

Master's thesis

Your Master's thesis consists of an individual research project, which allows you to investigate a topic of your choice under the close supervision of our expert staff. You choose a topic that falls under your chosen specialisation. Please register in Osiris for the master thesis (code FTR-THMA250).

Professional specialisation (year 3)

You can choose one of four professional specialisations. This professional specialisation will determine the structure of your third year. You can choose:

Read more about the courses, reading requirements and course schedules in the other parts of this study guide.