Study of Religions

Cutting-edge research into religion in an international and interdisciplinary environment.

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The objective of the doctoral degree study programme in the study of religions at Masaryk University, Faculty of Arts, is the systematic preparation for academic work in the study of religions or related fields. The programme involves original and creative work under the guidance of a supervisor. Students go through all stages of the research process, from designing a research project proposal through collecting and analysing data to publishing the results and writing a dissertation.

The curriculum is organized on the basis of a credit system, offering the possibility for individual choices concerning the study timeline and thematic modifications, including opportunities for fieldwork and study stays abroad. The core of the curriculum consists of four doctoral seminars in which students finalize their dissertation project, read and discuss complex theoretical texts, improve their academic writing, decide about their publication project, get acquainted with the peer-review process and other practical and ethical aspects of academic publishing, and write their dissertations. During their studies, students submit at least one academic book review related to their dissertation project, one grant application, and one article concerned with the central topic of the dissertation. They develop their presentation skills and participate in at least one local and one international conference. In other courses they deepen their competence in theory and methodology and participate in further theoretical, methodological, subject-oriented, or language courses according to their specialty and dissertation project. Under the guidance of their supervisor, they participate in teaching undergraduate students, thereby gaining valuable teaching experience.

The doctoral programme in the study of religions is open to graduates with a Master’s degree in the study of religions or a related discipline, particularly sociology, anthropology, history, or psychology, who intend to develop their academic skills and pursue a career in academia.

The profile research areas of the supervisors at the Department for the Study of Religions at Masaryk University, Faculty of Arts include the prosocial effects of ritual, the use of network analysis in research into the spread of religious innovations, non-religion, and atheism, religions of the Roman Empire, early Judaism, and early Christianity, nonconformist movements in medieval Christianity, medieval Christian missions to Asia and Christianity in India, Islamic reformism, visual culture of Buddhism, Czechoslovak Oriental Studies in the 20th century, ancient Chinese texts, Japanese Buddhism, discourse analysis of online media, field research in contemporary religiosity, and the dynamics of sacralisation and disenchantment in the modern world.

The doctoral programme in the study of religions at Masaryk University, Faculty of Arts, benefits from the facilities of the oldest department for the study of religions in the Czech Republic, which is well-established and internationally recognized. Among comparable doctoral programmes, it stands out for its focus on strong interdisciplinary research (the use of network analysis and geographic information systems, cognitive science, experimental psychology, and historical anthropology), its emphasis on transferable skills, the involvement of students in team projects, and an extensive network of international contacts in the profile research areas which enhances the chances that the graduates will obtain positions in academia and/or submit successful post-doctoral projects.


After successfully completing his/her studies the graduate is able to:

  • understand complex theoretical texts in humanities and the social sciences
  • connect the general/theoretical and empirical/practical aspects of research in the humanities and social sciences
  • use selected methods of data collection and data analysis in the humanities and social sciences on an advanced level
  • design and conduct complex, systematic, original, methodologically sound, and theoretically relevant research in the study of religions
  • clarify the foundations of independent research
  • put the results of independent research in the context of the international state of research on the topic
  • understand the practical and ethical aspects of research and academic publishing
  • write a high-quality and relevant academic text meeting international standards
  • communicate the acquired knowledge and experience in teaching, lectures, and publications
  • apply teaching experience and organizational skills in practice

Graduates are qualified for positions in teaching and research in the study of religions and related fields; in preparing grant applications in the public and private sector; in non-governmental organizations focusing on minorities and intercultural translation; in state administration where the position requires knowledge of different cultures, religions, and ethnic groups and decision-making based on facts; in education; in the media; and in translation of literature in the humanities and social sciences.

In academia, the graduates can offer an outstanding and state-of-the-art orientation in the contemporary study of religions including major recent international developments in theory and methods; interdisciplinary thinking; skills in theoretically founded and empirically precise research; and experience in research as well as in teaching, publishing, and preparing grant applications and projects.

Employers outside academia will benefit from the graduates’ analytical skills, their ability to work on demanding and long-term projects, independent and critical thinking, and skills in the preparation of well-founded materials for decision-making.


The standard duration of the doctoral degree study programme is four years (eight semesters). For admittance to the doctoral final state examination, students have to earn a total of 240 ECTS credits for type A/required, type B/selective, and type C/elective courses. Type A/required courses constitute the basis of the study programme and make up 236 credits. The type B/selective courses, which make up 4 credits, are for a language that the students choose according to their interests and specialization. During the course of their studies, students should follow the study catalogue valid for their year of matriculation. The study catalogues for the individual years of matriculation are available at the Faculty website.


The curriculum does not include any obligatory training stay. The whole study is oriented towards the practical aspects of the research process.


The doctoral final state examination is oral and consists of the defence of the dissertation and the examination.

In the dissertation, students present research results obtained with the guidance of their supervisors. The dissertation has to contain original and published or forthcoming results. It can be either a monograph or a set of related published or forthcoming articles with an introduction and commentary. The length of a monographic dissertation is between 180,000 and 270,000 characters including spaces (100–150 standard pages). A dissertation based on articles is not defined by a required length but must contain at least five articles, of which at least four were published or accepted for publication in journals indexed in the Scopus or Web of Science databases or included in the ERIH list, and the student must be the main author of at least three of them.

The oral examination has two parts:

1) A presentation on a topic related to theory and methods in the study of religions. The student prepares a 10-minute original argument concerning an interesting and controversial topic in theory and methods in the study of religions (other than the topic of the dissertation). The evaluation of this part makes up 50 percent of the evaluation of the oral examination. The evaluation also takes into account presentation skills and the reactions in the discussion.

2) Discussion on concepts and topics of the contemporary study of religions based on the list of readings. The student submits a list of readings divided in two groups: (a) theory and method of the study of religions and (b) the chosen specialty. The examination committee will ask one question; a discussion follows. The evaluation of this part makes up 50 percent of the evaluation of the oral examination.


Field of study specifications

Field of Study: Study of Religions
Abbreviation: RL
Code: 6101V014
Type: doctoral degree programme
Degree: Ph.D.
Accreditation: to 31/12/2024
Programme: P6147 D-PH4 Philosophy (4-years)
Faculty of Arts
Field of study guaranteed by:
Faculty of Arts
Field guarantor:
doc. PhDr. David Zbíral, Ph.D.