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's and doctoral programmes. This page provides general information about the design of our curriculum and introduces the types of modules offered 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. Every module is offered in every academic year unless noted otherwise.

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 (one day)

    On the last Friday of September, the Kick-Off opens the new academic year, introducing new members into the academic community and fostering existing contacts. During a morning programme, participants explore the rich variety of topics and methods in theology and religious studies, or a general topic relevant to all emerging scholars. In the afternoon, most research seminars will have their first session, which allows new members to check one out.

    Next Kick-Off: "Religion and Emotion," Friday 27 September 2024, Radboud University, Nijmegen.
    > More info (Moodle) will soon become available

    Central Events 0.5 EC
  • Midyear Meeting

    February (one day)

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

    Next Midyear Meeting: 7 February 2025, location t.b.a.
    > More info (Moodle) will soon become available

    Central Events 0.5 EC
  • Spring Conference

    April (two-day conference)

    The Spring Conference is the highlight of the academic year. It offers an ideal opportunity to discover the ‘academic conference’ formula and to exchange knowledge and experiences. The conference doesn't have a fixed theme: all ReMA students and PhD candidates are warmly invited to present their current or future research. In addition to these paper sessions, there is a plenary lecture, three parallel workshops and lots of time to socialise. In short, the Spring Conference provides you with fresh energy, new ideas and skills, and relevant feedback from peers and seniors.

    Next Spring Conference: 25 and 26 April 2024, Abdij Mariënkroon near Den Bosch. This year's plenary speaker is Dr. Nathal Dessing (LU).
    > More info (Moodle)

    Central Events 1-1.5 EC


In multiple sessions throughout the year, seminars immerse participants in a specific (sub-)discipline or a particular topical issue under the supervision of one or two experts in the field. Seminars are offered every academic year unless stated otherwise. In the research seminars, participants also discuss their own work in order to exchange feedback, whereas in the text-reading seminar(s) the focus is on reading key publications in the field.

  • Research Seminar Judaism and Christianity in Late Antiquity

    September-May (5-10 sessions)

    Taught by Dr. Eric Ottenheijm (UU).

    The course focus on Jewish Studies is chosen as a methodical and topical lens for studying Religion in Late Antiquity. It discusses issues of definition (e.g. how does religion in Late Antiquity relate to culture and political regimes, how to discuss identity or issues related to ethnicity or culture), entanglements of religion and (material) culture as well as inter-religious exchanges (e.g., adaptation, amalgamation, polemics or apologetics), emotional regimes and gender. The course covers the way Jewish Studies but also New Testament Studies, Religious Studies, and Theology apply methods such as narratology, post-colonial critique, the study of emotions, gender, and ethnicity, as well as the use of archaeological research in textual research.

    2023-2024: > More info (Moodle)

    Seminars 2.5
  • Research Seminar Religion and Climate Change

    September-May (8 sessions)

    Taught by Professor dr. Gijsbert van den Brink (VU) and dr. Steven C. van den Heuvel (ETF) with Dr. habil. Mirella Klomp (PThU).

    This seminar focuses on the interplay between religion and climate change. This interplay has, first of all, a historical dimension: there is an alleged link between (Western) Christianity, as laying the foundation for the contemporary ecological crisis (including the climate crisis); this link needs investigation. Second, there is a Biblical and a systematic-theological task: what Biblical and dogmatic concepts and thought forms can be brought to bear on the current climate crisis, and what hermeneutical steps need to be taken in this regard? Third, there is the empirical perspective: how do religious practices and religiously inspired attitudes contribute to the climate crisis, and how might they – vice versa – help us to address it?

    2023-2024: > More info (Moodle)

    Seminars 2.5
  • Research Webinar Christianity Worldwide

    January-May (offered every other year) (8 sessions)

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

    The course spotlights methods and theories 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.

    2023-2024: > More info (Moodle)

    Seminars 3 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.

    2023-2024: > More info (Moodle)

    Seminars 2.5 EC
  • Research Seminar Religious Studies

    September-May (5-10 sessions)

    Taught by Professor dr. Ab de Jong (LU) and dr. Jacqueline Borsje (UvA).

    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 a 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’.

    2023-2024: > More info (Moodle)

    Seminars 3 EC
  • Research Seminar Empirical Research in Religion

    September-May (5-10 sessions)

    Taught by dr. Anke Liefbroer (TiU) 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 relevant for empirical research in religion, such as quantitative and qualitative research methods, ethical aspects, and scientific integrity.

    2023-2024: > More info (Moodle) 

    Seminars 2.5 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.

    2023-2024: > More info (Moodle)

    Seminars 2.5 EC
  • 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 intensive text reading seminar aims to explore formative texts for the interdisciplinary study of religion within the humanities and the qualitative and conceptual studies in the social sciences, in particular from gender-critical, postcolonial, and post-secular perspectives. It focuses on the multiple and changing manifestations of religion in diverse social and cultural contexts, and it investigates religion from the intersection of feminist, sexuality, queer, masculinity and diversity studies. For 2023-2024, the theme is "Affect, religion and the challenge of difference". The course will focus on (critical) affect theory, or the academic study of feelings and emotions as specific forms of embodiment.

    2022-2023 > More info on last edition (Moodle)

    2023-2024 > More information on this year's edition (Moodle)

    Seminars 5 EC


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.

  • Language Course Coptic

    October-January (offered every other year) (14 sessions)

    Taught by Dr. Dylan Burns (UvA)

    This is an introduction to Coptic, the youngest phase of the Egyptian language, which enjoyed active use in Egypt from roughly the fourth to the fourteenth centuries CE. It continues to be employed in the liturgies of the Egyptian Orthodox (Monophysite) Church. Coptic is of fundamental importance to the history of late ancient and medieval Egypt. Its literary tradition is characterized by a diverse and vibrant religious literature: biblical, monastic, gnostic, hermetic, Manichaean, liturgical, and magical texts are all preserved in Coptic—and often only in Coptic. Coptic documents are instrumental to our knowledge of everyday life in Egypt under the Romans, and then the Umayyad, Abbasid, and Mamluk dynasties. 

    2023-2024: > More info (Moodle)

    This course will be taught again in the fall semester of 2025.

    Courses 5 EC
  • Language Course Syriac

    February - May (offered every other year) (15 sessions)

    Taught by Dr. Seth Bledsoe (RU)

    Syriac is a Semitic language with ancient origins that continues to be used by different Christian communities of the Middle East for their liturgy and as a means of literary expression. Knowledge of Syriac gives access to a rich spiritual, historiographical and theological body of literature. This course provides a basic introduction into script and grammar with the goal of being able to read and translate (with the help of a dictionary) basic texts, especially from the Syriac New Testament (Peshitta). Introduction to the various scripts and classical grammar will facilitate our reading of a number of texts (in class and via self-study) that will also familiarize the student with the most important genres of Classical Syriac literature.

    2023-2024: > More info (Moodle)

    This course will be taught again in the spring of 2026.

    Courses 5 EC
  • Must-Have-Reads

    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. In every academic year, NOSTER aims to offer two editions on different must-have-read classics, which might be offered again after two years.

    2023-2024 Autumn: Charles Long, Significations: Signs, Symbols, and Images in the Interpretation of Religion with Dr. Justine M. Bakker (RU). > More info (Moodle)

    2023-2024 Spring: Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation with Professor dr. Erik Borgman (TiU). > More info (Moodle)

    Previous editions have discussed, e.g., Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison, Catherine Bell’s Ritual, and Karl Barth’s Der Römerbrief.

    Courses 2-4 EC
  • Grand Course

    1-3 November 2023 (multi-day conference)

    The Grand Course is a two/three-day in-depth module that often combines a conference with a masterclass (incl. preparatory readings). It is offered at least bi-annually, usually incorporating the bi-annual Autumn conference of the Dutch Association for the Study of Religion (NGG).

    In 2024, no Grand Course will be offered; in 2025, we plan to offer two Grand Courses. More information will be provided soon.

    Courses 2-5 EC
  • Upcoming Courses

    TBA (TBA)

    Upcoming courses for the next academic year(s) will be published here.

    After its success in 2023, we plan to offer the course "Using Tools To Study Social Media" by Dr. Ernst van den Hemel (Meertens Institute KNAW) again in 2024-2025. 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. See the previous edition of this course for more information: > More info (Moodle)

    Courses TBA