History of Religions

This master’s programme uses interdisciplinary approaches to study history and religion in the pre-modern world.


Language of instruction

2 years (120 ECTS)
Start: Early August

Application Deadline
June 1st for citizens of 
EU/EEA countries
New Zealand

Other: February 1st

Online application opens November 1st

Application fee for the Feb 1 deadline
NOK 500 (approx. 60 USD).
Pay with VISA/Mastercard.

  • Why is Jerusalem still such a contested place?
  • What are the motivations behind the systematic destruction by the Islamic State (IS) of the cultural heritage of the past?
  • Why do sacred texts produced centuries ago continue to shape the lives of people today?
  • How are they used and abused?
  • Why does the sword sometimes replace the word in religious matters?
  • How did religious groups, ideas and artefacts travel from one continent to another and how did that migration transform them?
  • In other words, how did religious conflicts and encounters shape the modern world and why do they still matter today?

These are some of the topics we tackles in this M.Phil programme in History of Religion: Encounters and Conflicts.

General information

Admission Requirements

Admission to the programme is applicable for applicants with a BA in related disciplines (history, religious studies, theology, archaeology, art history, etc.).


Contact student advisor, Department of Theology and History

More about the programme


- As a main rule, 30 ECTS at the master level, and the course in methodology, must be completed before students can register for AVH5080.

- As a main rule, all courses within the programme must be completed before the thesis can be submitted.

Description of programme structure

All courses are mandatory. Students are only able to start this programme in August as HIS5010 is considered a basic theoretical course which as a main rule has to be completed before continuing with second semester courses.

Master in History of Religions

Thesis for Master in History of Religions:
(60 stp)
Thesis for Master in History of Religions:
(60 stp)
Encounters: Common Categories and Concepts in Abrahamic religions
(10 stp)
Conflict and Negotiation: Selected topics
(10 stp)
Methodology: Texts and History
(10 stp)
The historical study of religion: Multidisciplinary theoretical perspectives
(10 stp)
Religious change, exchange and counterchange: A long-term historical perspective
(10 stp)
Owning and sharing holy matter: texts, artefacts and places
(10 stp)
Semester10 ECTS10 ECTS10 ECTS

More about the programme

The programme is focused on the issues of religious cross-pollination, coexistence and conflict with particular emphasis on Europe and the Middle East. Addressed in a long historical perspective stretching from Antiquity to the European Renaissance, the programme seeks to illuminate the roots of present peaceful coexistence and interchange, as well as of today's antagonisms and conflicts. The underlying idea of the programme is that, in order to fully grasp current religious conflicts and alliances, we need to understand how the perceptions of past and present are intertwined, reciprocally dependent and constantly reshaped.

Based on a multidisciplinary approach and applying various theoretical frameworks and interpretative methods, the core courses of the programme aim to reveal historical dynamics, privileging 'how' and tentatively 'why' over 'who' and 'when'.

The programme is conceived at the intersection between political history and history of religions, but relies also on other disciplines, such as the history of ideas, art history and archaeology. These are meant to provide the depth of field expected in Big History by illustrating and clarifying the macro-historical perspectives.

What will you learn?

Description of Qualifications

The candidate..
has advanced knowledge of the historical development of the main religious traditions and specialised insight in the role that religion played in the evolution of society
has thorough knowledge of the principal theories about religion and religious phenomena
can understand and interact with academic discourses in the field of the history of religions
The candidate..
can critically analyse and use the existing theories within the history and phenomenology of religions as well as their specific methods and interpretative patterns in both practical cases and theoretical debates
can apply knowledge to new areas within the history and phenomenology of religions, history proper or social sciences and address relevant challenges in society
can carry out independent scientific research on topics related to the history and phenomenology of religions
can analyse and address critically different types of empirical data and use it to structure and formulate theoretically valid arguments
can assess the historical background of current social issues related to religious beliefs and practices and propose valid and balanced frameworks for relating to them
General competence
The candidate..
can analyse within a valid methodological framework problems related to religious conflict
can apply his/her knowledge and skills in new areas of society in order to carry out advanced assignments and projects in connection with people’s religious beliefs
can communicate the results of scientific work in the history and phenomenology of religion and masters the specific terminology of these fields
can communicate about issues in the history and phenomenology of religion with the general public
can contribute to theoretical research and practical conflict-solving in the areas of the history and phenomenology of religion

Career opportunities

This programme aims at providing education for positions within education or research, as well as within Norwegian or international institutions and organisations, where comparative knowledge of religions, in particular of relations between religions, is required. The programme is also relevant for positions relating to immigration and social integration. The Master's degree qualifies for further studies on PhD level.

Lectures and seminars

Teaching and learning are driven by a hands-on and case-oriented attitude and core courses are complemented by lectures and seminars of theory and method.

The programme coordinator is Victor Ghica, Professor of Antiquity and Early Christian Studies. The core courses of the programme will be taught by Kristin B. Aavitsland, Professor of Cultural History, Liv Ingeborg Lied, Professor of the Study of Religions, John Kaufman, Associate Professor of Church History, Iselin Frydenlund, Postdoctoral Researcher and historian of religions, as well as by Victor Ghica and several other specialists.

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