Western Esotericism (Theology and Religious Studies)

The Master's programme Western Esotericism puts you at the vanguard of a new and exciting development in the study of Western culture and religion, focusing in particular on the critical historical and analytical study of its esoteric movements.

Esoteric movements in Western culture

The Master's programme Western Esotericism focuses on the critical historical and analytical study of esoteric movements in Western culture. Against the backdrop of the Gnostic and hermetic currents of late Antiquity and the history of the so‑called ‘occult sciences' (notably astrology, alchemy, magic), you will explore the revival of Hermetic philosophy during the early Renaissance, the so-called ‘occult philosophy' and its later offshoots (alchemy, Paracelsianism and Rosicrucianism). The programme will also introduce you to Jewish and Christian Kabbalah and the movements arising from it, theosophical and illuminist currents, and the various forms of occultism and related movements during the 19th and 20th centuries, including the New Age movement.

Studying Western 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 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 study facilities.

Degree certificate

Western Esotericism is an accredited degree programme of Theology and Religious Studies. After successful completion of this programme, you will receive a legally accredited Master’s degree in Theology and Religious Studies and the title Master of Arts (MA).

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Degree programme
MA Theology and Religious Studies
Regular study programme
Full-time, part-time
60 ECTS, 12 months
Language of instruction
Starts in
CROHO code

Published by  Faculty of Humanities