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Mysticism and Western Esotericism (MA)

Course Description

The Mysticism and Western Esotericism track of the Religious Studies Master focuses on the critical historical and analytical study of mystical and esoteric movements in Western culture. Against the background of the Gnostic and hermetic currents of late antiquity and the history of the so‑called ‘occult sciences' (notably astrology, alchemy, magic), attention is focused particularly on the revival of Hermetic philosophy during the early Renaissance, the so-called ‘occult philosophy' and its later offshoots (alchemy, Paracelsianism and Rosicrucianism), Jewish and Christian Kabbalah and the movements arising from it, theosophical and illuminist currents and various forms of occultism and related movements during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including the New Age movement.

Studying Mysticism and 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 Master's 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 facilities for study.

Accreditation and degree

Mysticism and Western Esotericism is a track of the master's programme in Religiestudies (Religious Studies). The quality of this master's programme has been positively assessed by the Accreditation Organisation of The Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). This means that upon successful completion of the programme students will receive a legally accredited master's degree in Religiestudies and the title Master of Arts.
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Entry Requirements

Applicants for the Master's programme should have at least a Bachelor's degree or its equivalent in a relevant field. The level of the Bachelor's degree must be comparable to that of a Dutch Bachelor's degree.

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