Curriculum

PhD and ReMA Education

National research school NOSTER provides training and education for PhD candidates and research master (ReMA) students in the fields of theology and religious studies, complementing local master and doctoral programmes. This page provides general information about the design of our curriculum and introduces the types of modules organised by NOSTER. Detailed information about individual modules is available in our online learning environment Moodle. Use the guest login if you are not yet registered at NOSTER.


PhD candidates and ReMA students are free to mix and match their ideal training programme. Addressing the various needs of both target groups and NOSTER's objectives, our curriculum offers annual modules in three categories: Central Events, Seminars, and Courses. In addition, NOSTER occasionally presents isolated events: Pop-up Classes.

Central Events

Annual events of one or two days contribute significantly to building and fostering an academic community. They address a wide variety of issues including research topics and methods, career perspectives, and general academic skills.

  • Kick-Off

    September/October (one day)

    The Kick-Off opens the new academic year, introducing new members into the academic community and fostering existing contacts. During a morning or afternoon programme, participants explore the rich variety of topics studied and methods employed in the fields of theology and religious studies, or a general topic relevant to all emerging scholars.

    2022-2023: 7 October, morning programme at RU Nijmegen. Theme: 'Religion and Nationalism'. The afternoon provides an opportunity to try one of NOSTER's seminars.
    > More info (Moodle)

    Previous editions:
    2021-2022: 24 September, afternoon programme. Keynote by Professor Dr Marianne Moyaert: 'Collaborative Research: Complementary Roles and Methods in a Research Team.'

    Central Events 0.5 EC
  • Midyear Meeting

    February (one day)

    Halfway through the year, the Midyear Meeting focuses on career perspectives, both within and outside academia. As an academic community of emerging and senior scholars, NOSTER offers a valuable platform to plan and promote your (academic) career.

    This year’s meeting focuses on achieving research impact. The two following workshops focus on specific aspects of the academic career: the first allows participants to explore the intricacies of studying abroad, while the second tackles the relatively new concepts of ‘validation and appreciation’ within an academic career.

    2022-2023: 3 February, morning programme, Groningen. Lecture and workshops.
    > More info (Moodle)

    Previous editions:
    2021-2022: 18 February, afternoon programme: 'Fund Your Future!' How have research opportunities in our fields evolved in recent years? Which types of funding are available, and how to apply for them? With contributions by Professor dr. Frans Wijsen (NOSTER/RU) and dr. Marlies Kluck (funding officer, RUG), and parallel sessions for ReMAs with Professor dr. Kim Knibbe (RUG) and for PhDs with dr. Brenda Mathijssen (recipient of NWO Veni, RUG).

    Central Events 0.5 EC
  • Spring Conference

    April (multi-day conference)

    The Spring Conference is the highlight of the academic year. The event offers an ideal opportunity to discover the ‘academic conference’ formula and to exchange knowledge and experiences. The conference includes a plenary lecture by dr. Rik Peels (VU) on fundamentalism, workshops, and parallel sessions in which all junior members can present their current or future research projects. In short: the Spring Conference provides you with fresh energy, new ideas and skills, and relevant feedback from peers and seniors.

    2022-2023: Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 April: Start your week at conference venue Abdij Mariënkroon near Den Bosch in order to engage with the work of peers and to attend workshops and a plenary lecture. The perfect place to discover the ‘academic conference’ formula and to exchange knowledge and experiences. The conference does not have a fixed theme: all research master students and PhD candidates are warmly invited present their current or future research. Experience that your feedback and ideas can be helpful to your peers!
    > More info (Moodle)

    Previous editions:
    2021-2022: 21-22 April 2022: spend two days at conference venue Abdij Mariënkroon near Den Bosch in order to engage with the work of peers and to attend workshops and a plenary lecture by Professor dr. Peter-Ben Smit (VU/UU). The perfect place to discover the ‘academic conference’ formula and to exchange knowledge and experiences. The conference does not have a fixed theme: all research master students and PhD candidates can present their current or future research.

    Central Events 1-1.5 EC

Seminars

In multiple sessions throughout the year, seminars immerse participants in a specific (sub-)discipline or a particular topical issue under supervision of experts in the field. In the research seminars, participants also discuss their own work in order to exchange feedback.

  • Intensive Text Reading Seminar ‘The Challenge of Difference’

    September-May (8-10 sessions)

    Taught by: Professor dr. Anne-Marie Korte (UU) and Professor dr. Mariecke van den Berg (VU/RU)

    This year’s seminar theme is: religion, gender and popular culture. In seven meetings we will discuss key theoretical approaches to answer questions as:  what does it mean to adopt a cultural studies approach in relation to religion and gender? How does popular culture draw on religious images and practices, and portray religious figures, institutions, and movements? Students will be invited to explore a range of examples, in which intersecting representations of religion and gender offer insights into dominant cultural frames, as well as the ways these frames may be shifting.


    2022-2023 > More info (Moodle)

    Seminars 5 EC
  • Research Seminar Dogmatics, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion

    September-May (5-10 sessions)

    Taught by: Professor dr. Herman Westerink (RU) and dr. Petruschka Schaafsma (PThU)

    Multiple sessions throughout the year focused on exploring current debates in dogmatics, ethics and philosophy of religion and on presenting and discussing the work of participants. The course includes a discussion of a text or a book that is key to the field, either in terms of content or method, and training in academic skills. Academic skills that are trained include citation styles and preparing a bibliography; balancing personal commitment and academic distance; choosing and applying the proper method; starting (and applying for) a PhD project, remaining in charge of it, and bringing it to a good (and timely) end; presenting and defending one’s research; publishing strategies; commenting on texts of colleagues; preparing for professional life after successfully defending one’s thesis.

    2022-2023: > More info (Moodle)

    Seminars 2.5 EC
  • Research Seminar Empirical Research in Religion

    September-May (5-10 sessions)

    Taught by: Professor dr. Carl Sterkens (RU) and dr. Brenda Mathijssen (RUG)

    The monthly sessions offer a forum for the presentation and discussion of ongoing research by the participants. In addition, the course discusses literature related to general topics which are relevant for empirical research in religion, such as quantitative and qualitative research methods, ethical aspects, and scientific integrity.

    2022-2023: > More info (Moodle) 

    Seminars 2.5 EC
  • Research Seminar Religion, Theology, and Gender

    September-May (5-10 sessions)

    Taught by Professor dr. Anne-Marie Korte (UU) and dr. Anne-Claire Mulder (PThU)

    Monthly sessions offer a forum to present and discuss the research projects of the participants. The sessions alternately focus on the exploration of current debates in the multidisciplinary field of Religion, Theology and Gender and on the mastering of dissertation skills, both in relation to the research projects of the participants.

    2022-2023: > More info (Moodle)

    Seminars 2.5 EC
  • Research Seminar Religious Studies

    September-May (5-10 sessions)

    Taught by: Professor dr. Ab de Jong

    Monthly sessions offer a forum to present and discuss parts of the research projects of the participants. In addition, we will be discussing current debates and issues in the study of religion, with special focus on the interconnection between dedicated work (historical as well as contemporary) on concrete religions, religious materials, and religious phenomena, and general theorising about ‘religion’.

    2022-2023: > More info (Moodle)

    Seminars 3 EC
  • Research Webinar Christianity Worldwide

    September-May (8 sessions)

    Taught by: Professor dr. Martha Frederiks (UU) and Professor dr. Dorottya Nagy (PThU)

    The course spotlights methods and theory in the study of Christianity/ies worldwide, aiming at familiarizing PhD candidates with relevant theories and methods for the benefit of their projects. The course will be taught online to cater especially for external PhD candidates and employs close reading of key texts and peer-to-peer coaching of draft texts as its main methods.

    2022-2023: > More info (Moodle)

    Seminars 3 EC

Courses

Condensed modules that allow participants to earn credits in relatively short periods of time. They focus on one particular theme, method, or text which they address in-depth.

  • Grand Course

    Autumn (multi-day conference)

    The Grand Course consists of two (mandatory) elements:  a conference, usually in cooperation with a partner organisation, and a masterclass on a related theme with a renowned senior scholar. In addition, participants can earn extra credits by writing a paper related to the theme of the Grand Course.

    The next edition will be in cooperation with NGG in November 2023.

    Previous editions:
    2021-2022: This Grand Course is a combination of the NGG conference 'Religion and Heritage: Futures of Religious Pasts' and a masterclass with one of its keynote speakers: renowned cultural sociologist Dr. Marian Burchardt (University of Leipzig). The Masterclass centers around his recent book Regulating Differences: Religious Diversity and Nationhood in the Secular West (2020).
    > More info (Moodle)

    Courses 2-5 EC
  • Must-Have-Read

    Autumn and Spring Editions (4-5 sessions within 2 months)

    Reading a classic cover-to-cover: students and emerging as well as established scholars rarely find the time to do so. This course offers you the opportunity to study and discuss a classic or contemporary standard work from the fields of theology or religious studies. In four or five sessions within the scope of two months, an expert on the particular publication guides participants through its history, context, and content. 

    2022-2023 Autumn: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison with Professor dr. Edward van 't Slot (PThU)
    > More info (Moodle)
    2022-2023 Spring: Catherine Bell, Ritual: Perspectives & Dimensions with dr. William Arfman (TiU)
    > More info (Moodle)

    Previous editions:
    2021-2022 Autumn: Émile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life with Dr Pooyan Tamimi Arab (UU) 
    2021-2022 Spring: Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation with Professor dr. Erik Borgman (TiU).


    Courses 2-4 EC
  • Summer School ‘Discourse Analysis in Religious Studies’ (2023)

    May-July 2023 (2 sessions in May, 6 weeks in June-July)

    Since the 1970s there has been dissatisfaction with objectivist definitions of religion and positivist methods of studying religion. Some scholars go for social-science methods, based on numbers and tabulation, whereas others opt for the humanities approaches, based on narratives and texts. In this course, we give the historical and philosophical background of this dilemma and introduce the discursive study of religion as a distinct approach next to substantive and functionalist approaches.

    This summer school is taught by Professor dr. Frans Wijsen (RU) and is organized by the Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies at the Universitas Gadjah Mada in collaboration with the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies. The first two preparatory meetings are in May at Radboud University in Nijmegen, and the summer school itself takes place in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. > More info (Moodle)

    Courses 5
  • Using Tools to Study Social Media and Religion

    Spring (4-5 sessions in 2 months)

    2022-2023: Social media offer important resources for religious studies scholars. Yet studying it can be complicated. How do you get social media data? In this course, you will learn how to use tools to scrape and visualize data from social media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Telegram. With Dr. E. (Ernst) van den Hemel (Meertens Institute KNAW).

    > More info (Moodle)

    Courses 3 EC