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Western Esotericism

By engaging with topics like magic, alchemy, astrology, theosophy and kabbalah you will develop your ability to critically reflect on the historicity of science, religion and esotericism.

Western 'esoteric' currents and traditions tend to place a strong emphasis on personal religious experience as an avenue towards true knowledge about the nature of human beings, the world, and the divine or spiritual reality that is believed to exist behind the screen of appearances. Because such 'mystical' knowledge is believed to go beyond rational understanding and common language, esoteric currents often express themselves through symbols and myths. This combination has often been seen as problematic by the representatives of mainstream Christian theology, rational philosophy, and modern science. Nevertheless, esoteric spiritualities have been highly influential throughout Western culture – not just in the domains of religion and philosophy, but also in the visual arts, literature, music, and even the natural sciences.

Study programme

The minor in Western Esotericism comprises 30 ECTS and consists of mandatory courses and electives, e.g.:

  • Western Culture and Counterculture (12 ECTS)
  • Onderzoeksvaardigheden Religiewetenschappen II (6 EC)
  • Western Esotericism from the 18th Century (12 ECTS)

Related Master's programmes

The minor Western Esotericism may serve as a good preparation for students who want to apply for admission to a Master's programme in Religious Studies, e.g.: Spirituality and Religion or Religious Studies (Research Master's).

Entry requirements

This minor is open for application to students who have obtained an academic first-year diploma or a positive Binding Study Advice from an academic Bachelor's programme. This entails that you must have obtained at least 48 ECTS in your propaedeutic year. 

The minor is also open for application to students from a Dutch University of Applied Sciences (HBO) who have completed their propaedeutic year. If you are an HBO student and if you are looking to do a Master's programme at the UvA, please check out our pre-Master's programmes.


You can enrol in this minor after 9 April 2020.

A minor in Humanities

This minor is offered by the Faculty of Humanities. The faculty’s minors consist of 30 ECTS credits and earn you a second qualification that will be listed on the transcript accompanying your degree certificate. You can find more information on the following website:

Feiten & cijfers
Studielast 30 EC,
Voertaal Engels
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