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Society, Law and Religion

Course Description

This master's programme was started in 2007-2008 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 programme 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 programme is particularly sensitive to the autonomy of religions, religious self-government, and religious laws. While all students receive a basic training in the law of the Roman Catholic Church, the programme embraces all religions and faith communities, and includes classes in Jewish, Islamic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant law. African and Asian religions and customs are also investigated, as far as their relation to law and society is concerned.

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

The programme can be taken as a self-standing programme 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 combine education with employment or social engagement, the programme allows for distance learning and spreading of examinations. The large choice of subjects from different faculties enables students to tailor their educational experience, to their interests, needs and projects.


Main goal of the programme is to develop the acquired basic skills in the Bachelor of Law, the Bachelor of Theology or another programme in view of a specialized exploration of the area 'Society, Law and Religion'. The student obtains a basic knowledge on the legal system of the Roman Catholic Church and the other christian churches. He gets acquainted with legal sources and obtains the required skills to interpret the rules incorporated in the Codex Iuris Canonici (CIC). The student is initiated in the complex interaction between social structures and secular law on one side, and the legal structures of the Church at the other side. Research, consultancy and communication skills as well as other social elements are stimulated. The student is able to develop a sound research strategy, and to present an accurate synthesis of existing knowledge and a well-argued personal and critical reflection. He is able to present a well-considered research question, to develop a research plan, and to select relevant sources. Those who selected optional courses in canon law are allowed to start in the programme 'Master of Canon Law'.

Career paths

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 through by moving on to the Master in Canon Law or the doctoral programme in Society, Law and Religion.

Entry Requirements

Direct admission: Academic bachelor or master; Certificate for completion of training for the priesthood (major seminary)To be admitted applicants have to prove a satisfactory level of proficiency in English. More information: www.kuleuven.be/admissions

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