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School of Graduate Studies

MA in Religious Studies (in 30% English)

Why Religious Studies at Ibn Haldun University?

MA Program in Religious Studies at Ibn Haldun University offers a unique, comprehensive, and interdisciplinary approach to religion that emphasizes both research and teaching. The program focuses on philosophical, historical, social, and psychological dimensions of religion and explores how religions shape and are shaped by the individual, society, and historical and social changes. The program investigates theories that emerged in the history of ideas and their impacts on societies in a religious sense. Going beyond the investigation of intellectual heritage, our program also studies, researches, and reviews contemporary works in the field. We intend to train and prepare our students to develop an agenda for further research and to engage with “religion” as an intellectually provocative concept.

About Program

Head of The Department:

Prof. Hasan Kaplan

We invite those

  • who hold active academic curiosity,
  • who dare to determine contemporary challenges and who are eager to develop solutions to these,
  • who plan to acquire creative perspectives in religion, philosophy, and social sciences.

Application Requirements

Visit the MA Programs Application Requirements page.

Teaching Staff

Visit the department page for Teaching Staff.


Visit the curriculum page.

Course Contents

RLST 500 Seminar

This non-credit course, given by the students’ thesis advisors, has preparatory content for the students’ theses. Within the framework of preparing a roadmap for thesis studies, the course includes students preparing and reporting a presentation in accordance with the academic rules, generally related to their thesis.

RLST 501 Scientific Research Techniques and Publication Ethics

The main objective of this course is to provide in-depth knowledge, experience, and skills in the methodology of academic research and to train the student in critically reviewing academic literature and scientific writing. Thus, students will learn how to search and review literature; how to design research, collect and analyze data; and how to report, write and present scientific papers in the frame of academic ethical guidelines. By the end of the course, students are expected

  • to become familiar with the processes of academic research, especially in the context of religious sciences.
  • to learn how to set up a research study through developing scientific questions and hypotheses, research design, data collection, data analysis, interpretation, and presentation.
  • to locate and perform a critical literature review
  • to understand ethical issues in academia and to refer to and cite from the scientific literature
  • to compare and contrast scientific literature and integrate his/her own view in relation to published studies in the field.


Religious Studies / History of Religions

RLST 502E Introduction to the Study of Religions

This is an introductory course in the history of religions that deals with classical theories of religion, modern taxonomy of religions, and the difference between theology and the history of religions. These issues will be discussed along with various theories of religion(s) such as that of Edward Burnett Tylor, James Frazer, Edward Evans-Pritchard, Sigmund Freud, William James, Emile Durkheim, Joachim Wach, Mircea Eliade. Also, evolutional, colonial, and post-colonial approaches to religion will be addressed.

RLST 503E Modern Theories of Religion

This is an introductory course in religious studies/history of religions that deals with classical theories of religion, the taxonomy of religions, and the difference between theology and religious studies. These issues will be discussed along with various theories of religion(s) such as that of Edward Burnett Tylor, James Frazer, Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, Joachim Wach, and Mircea Eliade. In addition, some contemporary theories and critical approaches towards these are introduced.

RLST 505 Bible Studies

In this course, the Tanakh, which is considered sacred by the Jews, and the New Testament, which is considered to be the Christian holy book, will be discussed separately by Jews and Christians. In addition, the understanding of revelation, inspiration, and prophecy in both traditions will be examined and Muslims’ approaches to the Bible will be discussed.

RLST 506 Judaism – Christianity

The aim of this course is to examine Judaism in terms of its history, major figures, sects, basic beliefs, scriptures, and mysticism. In this course, first of all, a chronological and general overview of the history of Judaism will be made, its main sects and their historical-geographical distribution will be examined, and information will be given about Judaism in the early and modern period in Turkey. The second part of the course is to present general information about Christianity by addressing its main themes such as the trinity, incarnation, revelation, prophecy, and historical theologies. In this course, first of all, a chronological and general overview of the history of Christianity/Church will be made, the main Christian denominations and their historical-geographical distribution will be examined, councils and principles of faith, terms used while explaining Christianity in Turkey and prominent themes will be discussed.

RLST 507E Guided Readings in History of Religion I

The objective of this course is to study the New Religious Movements through English texts. Thus, the students will obtain knowledge of New Movements from authentic primary sources while developing skills in academic reading by doing translations between English and Turkish.

RLST 508E Muslim-Christian Relations

This course will primarily discuss the history of Muslim-Christian relations. Consequently, “A Common Word Between Us,” the new discipline of comparative theology and Scriptural Reasoning activities, all of which are examples of contemporary Muslim-Christian relations, will be discussed along with primary approaches to the “religious other.” This course will also cover the history of traditional Christian-Muslim polemics.

RLST 509 Guided Readings in History of Religion I (Arabic)

This course offers Arabic readings in al-Milal wa al-Nihal, a classic work written by al-Shahrastani and considered to be one of the earliest examples of a history of religions both in the Muslim world and in the pre-modern era. Thus, the students will meet one of the primary classical texts in the History of Religions field while developing skills of academic reading by doing translations between Arabic and Turkish.

RLST 510E Guided Readings in History of Religion II

This course is the advanced level of Guided Reading in History of Religions-I.  The aim of the course is to gain deeper insight into New Religious Movements through primary English texts. Thus, the students will obtain knowledge of New Religious Movements from authentic primary sources while developing skills in academic reading by doing translations between English and Turkish.

RLST 512 Guided Readings in History of Religion II (Arabic)

This course offers an advanced level of readings in al-Milal wa al-Nihal, a classic work written by al-Shahrastani and considered to be one of the earliest examples of a history of religions both in the Muslim world and in the pre-modern era.   Thus, the students will meet one of the primary classical texts in the History of Religions field while developing skills of academic reading by doing translations between Arabic and Turkish.

RLST 521 Approaches to Religious Diversity

In this course, readings on religious diversity and religious pluralism, which are contemporary debates in the philosophy of religion, will be made. After an introduction to what religious pluralism is or how it is understood, the views of philosophers and thinkers who adopt the pluralist approach will be discussed.

RLST 525 Fundamental Problems and History of Philosophy

In this course, the systems and schools of Plato and Aristotle will be studied through selected texts. The course will also deal with the ways in which Aristotelian and Platonic systems changed and transformed into various other schools of philosophy. Also, medieval Church Fathers will be introduced within this course.

RLST 542 Literature of Rebuttal in the History of Religions

This course aims to examine the literature on Rejection (Polemic), which is a special genre in interreligious relations. Since every religion sees itself as the most correct and the only way to salvation, when confronted with other religions, it criticizes the other or answers the criticisms directed at it in order to prove its own justification and to prove its superiority. This issue, especially for universal religions, has led to the formation of a large literature. In this course, after giving basic information about Christianity, the beginning and course of the Rejection tradition will be covered, and important works in this field are analyzed.

RLST 543 Muslim-Jewish Relations

This course aims to examine Muslim-Jewish relations based on the Qur’an, to complement the topics in the Bible Study-I (Old Testament) course in the Master’s program. In the Qur’an, the history of the Israelites, their holy books, beliefs, and moral characteristics, and their relations with Muslims are evaluated. Therefore, in order to better understand the basis of Muslim-Jewish relations centered on the revelation of the Qur’an, pre-Islamic Jewish history will be discussed, the distribution of Jews in the Arabian Peninsula, religious belief, worship, and social life in the period of Islam will be examined. Comparisons will be made with the information given. The relations of the Prophet with the Jews and the Muslim-Jewish relations will be discussed.

Religious Studies / Psychology of Religion

RLST 512 Research Methods in the Psychology of Religion

The aim of this particular methodological course is to teach basic research techniques in the psychological study of religion and religious feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. The course topics include empirical research design from beginning to the end; determining the research paradigm, selecting the sample, collection and analysis of data interpretation, and reporting the findings.

RLST 513 Religion in the Psychology Schools

This course covers major schools such as Psycho-dynamic theories, Behaviorism, Humanism, and Cognitive theories in the science of psychology and their approach to religion, religious feelings, religious thinking, and religious behaviors. The course aims to discuss direct and indirect implications that stem out of these major (and some other unconventional) theories and related research and evaluate how these theories and related research findings contribute to the study of religion.

RLST 514 Religion and Mental Health

This course approaches religiosity and psychological well-being on an objective and subjective level. The course addresses the general question of how religion and religiosity relate to mental health issues and includes topics such as the crisis of faith, religious coping, and mystical and conversion experiences.

RLST 515E Faith Development Theories

This course focuses on the concept of “faith” as defined by the developmental theories and investigates how it develops from birth in terms of cognition, emotion, and social interaction. The objective of the course is to provide the students with basic understanding and estimation skills of how faith is formed and transformed in each developmental stage, and its implications for religious growth and change.  

RLST 516E Selected Topics in Psychology of Religion

This particular course is designed for graduate students who are eager to develop expertise in the psychological study of religion and will be instructed in English. Topics include history and disciplinary identity of the field, major theories and texts, religion and health, popular religiousness, religious cults, and brainwashing, religion and morality, islamophobia, and religious extremism.

RLST 518E Spiritual Care and Counseling

This course teaches how psychological counseling practice can be exercised in religious contexts, with religious counselees considering their personal and spiritual values. Thus, during the course, students will gain knowledge and skills in combining psychological counseling with spiritual values in various support services.

RLST 526 Selected Topics in Social Psychology

The study subjects of social psychology are stimulating in terms of religious studies. In this framework, certain topics from social psychology will be selected and discussed in the course. Some of these topics are attribution, perception, perception of the other, attitudes, stereotypes, prejudice, persuasion, obedience, social influence, and group processes, pro-social and anti-social behavior.

RLST 527E Theories of Human Nature

Human nature is one of the most central issues in social science and humanities. From theology to the economy, from philosophy to psychology, from politics to education in many fields understanding of human nature shapes the paradigm of these areas. General-purpose of this course is to provide an overview of selected theories of human nature. Through the selected readings we will explore questions such as “what is natural?” “what is innateness?”, “Why do we behave the way we do?” “To what extend do culture and the environment determine who we are?”, and “Are we inherently selfish or social?”

RLST 528E Classic and Contemporary Readings in Psychology of Religion

A large number of notable classical and contemporary studies have emerged in the hundred-year history of the psychology of religion. In this course, selected texts from various psychology of religious works produced from the past to the present will be analyzed.

RLST 532E Issues in Science and Religion

This course focuses on the relationship between Modern Science and Islam. We present important contemporary scientific theories such as Special and General Theory of Relativity, Quantum Theory, Big Bang Theory, Theory of Evolution, and Modern Neurology. Then we evaluate and discuss some important implications of these theories for theistic religions and Islam specifically.  Our course also aims to outline possible approaches to the relationship between science and religion.

RLST 536 Islam and Psychology

İlmü’n-Nefs, which is the equivalent of today’s psychology in the Islamic world, started to develop from very early times by being fed from both religious and philosophical sources. In this course, the religious and philosophical sources, prominent representatives, important works, and views of this branch of science will be introduced. In addition, a summary of the views and theories about the powers of the soul, its cognitive and religious/moral development will be given.

RLST 538E Spirituality and Health

This course is about how various aspects of spirituality impact our health at the level of body, mind, and spirit. It is intended for graduate students who are interested in exploring the interface of spirituality, health, and happiness.  Course topics will include links between religion/spirituality and health; mind-body relationships; stress reduction; scientific evaluation of the impact of prayer on our health; spiritual approaches to our lives; lessons on living from those who are dying; and stories that heal.

RLST 540E Psychology, Spirituality, and Religion

This course is about the psychological study of religion and spirituality beginning with an examination of how spirituality/religion has been defined in various psychological theories and research. The course will explore the psychological aspects of spirituality and religiousness at multiple levels, from affective and cognitive factors to social and multicultural factors. Students will learn about the history of the field and how major theoretical perspectives in psychology (e.g., psychoanalytic, attachment, attribution, theories) have been applied to religion.

Particular attention will be paid to the following central topics:

  • Concepts and theories
  • Religious/spiritual formation and transformation
  • Religion, personality, and health
  • Religion and morality
  • New religious movements (NRM), cults, and brainwashing.

Religious Studies / Sociology of Religion

RLST 517 Islamic Society and Culture

The religion of Islam, which is one of the most important religions in the world, has shaped and continues to affect the social, cultural, economic, psychological-spiritual, political, legal, and many other aspects of various societies in different geographies. The aim of this course is to criticize the sociological and anthropological studies on Islam and Muslims, to be included in the “Anthropology of Islam” and “Islamic Anthropology” discussions, and to encourage new epistemological, ontological, and methodological analyzes and inferences.

RLST 519 Sociology of Religion

This course aims at studying religions as social institutions. The birth of religions throughout history, their expansion, their institutionalization, different capacities of institutionalization of different religions and their relationship with other social institutions, opportunities and constraints caused by these differences, the position of religions in the process of modernization, their effects on this process and the future of religion in relation to modernity and secularism will be main discussion topics of this course.

RLST 520 The Ethnography of Muslim Societies

Research has been done on Muslim societies and groups by many social scientists throughout history to this day. The aim of this course is to read and understand these theories and ethnographies of various sociologists and anthropologists, and also be able to provide theoretical and methodological criticism of their works.

RLST 522 Religion and Society in the Modern World

The course will examine how the religion-society relationship is handled within the framework of the basic concepts, institutions, and theories in modern sociological literature. In this context, prominent concepts, issues, and methods will be presented in a comparative way. In addition, students will be informed about the definition and function of religion, society, social institutions, and social change, especially the approaches in contemporary Islamic thought. Thus, the student will be given both the knowledge that exists in the context of modernization theories and the accumulation of contemporary Islamic thought.

RLST 523E Colonialism and Post-Colonialism

This course, in which the relationship between secularization and modernization will be discussed, will focus on the reflections of this process, which started in western societies, in other geographies. The social changes in Western Europe and their effects on religion and the secularization-modernization processes in societies with different religions and cultures will be emphasized. These processes, as well as the modernization experienced in the context of nation-state structures in the colonial period and after, and the effects of this process on the religious field will be evaluated. Multiple modernizations, alternative, and new religiosity phenomena will be considered.

RLST 524E Secularisation and Modernisation

It deals with colonialism and post-colonialism within the framework of main theories and approaches and focuses on socio-political and cultural changes in colonized societies. In this context, social processes in various institutions in the colonial and post-colonial periods will be examined, while focusing on the changes in different geographies and especially in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian societies. Students will develop an analytical and critical approach when evaluating colonialists and colonized societies. In the context of the post-colonial period, it will be informed about the nation-state structuring and the social changes that are the subject of modernization.

RLST 537 Social Theory 

The purpose of this course is to examine a wide range of classical social theorists in the Muslim world as well as in the West,  from Farabi to Ibn Khaldun to Marx and Weber. The main task is to make classical social theories relevant to the present understanding of human society. In other words, the course’s primary goal is to help students to develop a way of looking at past and contemporary issues “sociologically”.  In doing so, the theory will be discussed as a tool for organizing existing knowledge in the generation of new knowledge. Each theorist will be understood within their own time so that specific social and historical contexts, which gave rise to their particular theory,  can be thoroughly understood.

RLST 541 Religion and Society in Turkey

This course aims to examine the relationship between religion and society in Turkey from the Tanzimat to the present. The modernization efforts in the Ottoman Empire after the Tanzimat and the relationship of this process with religion, the effect of the Committee of Union and Progress on the establishment of the Republic of Turkey and the determination of religious policies, the effect of the modernization policies applied after the establishment of the Republic on religion, the transition to multi-party life and afterward. The main issues that shape the relationship between religion and society in Turkey, such as the religious revival experienced in Turkey, the liberalization and democratization process that took place in Turkey after 1980, and the emergence of new Islamic classes will be discussed from a sociological perspective.


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