Islam and Society
The master programme «Islam and Society» is unique in Europe. It teaches skills required for a nuanced approach to complex debates, addressing central questions of the religious self-understanding of Muslims and developing perspectives on current social challenges. The particularity of the programme is the systematic interweaving of the two fields of knowledge, Islam and society, whereby sociological, theological, historical and practical aspects are incorporated into an integrative approach. The programme is run by the Swiss Centre for Islam and Society (CSIS) at the University of Fribourg.
Profile of the study programme
Current debates on Islam show the importance of not only seeking social and political solutions, but also addressing the increasing need for Islamic interpretation models. In this respect, the programme focuses on the interactions between Islam and society in Europe and more specifically in the context of Switzerland. On the one hand, it considers philosophical and theological discourses and normative issues, and on the other hand social, legal and political circumstances, as well as the fields of social action. Which impact do trends such as secularisation, individualisation and pluralisation have on the current understanding of Islam and the social participation of Muslim actors? How are theological positions negotiated between tradition and innovation, literalism and hermeneutic openness, and between universalism and contextuality? What significance do «norms» have for the religious self-understanding of Muslims and their everyday lives? What role do Islamic approaches play in contemporary thought on, for example, gender hierarchies, economic and environmental issues, or questions of social ethics? How do Islamic motivations and beliefs adapt to the logics of education, social work or spiritual care? The objective with regard to these issues is, on the one hand, to analyse and empirically explore the numerous manifestations of Islam and how Muslims are perceived in Europe in a theoretical approach, and on the other hand, to focus on how Islamic thought is evolving in the European context on the basis of an introspective examination of its multiple traditions of knowledge.
The study programme consists of courses run by the Swiss Centre for Islam and Society (CSIS) and other Departments at the University of Fribourg. The CSIS is a national centre of excellence for current social issues related to Islam in Switzerland. It pursues a multi-perspective approach, which includes Islamic self-reflection as to how the multiple bases of Islamic knowledge and tradition can be transformed and integrated into the Swiss context. Interdisciplinary research projects on these issues using systematic and practical applications make this a research-based course taught in a great variety of ways. Moreover, the CSIS maintains close contacts with different actors in the fields of science, politics, religion and civil society at the national and international levels. Offering a wide-ranging advanced training programme and handling research mandates on current topics, the CSIS has significant practical relevance. As an inter-faculty centre of the Faculties of Theology, Law, and Humanities, it is a hub for different skills related to Islam and religion and as such, is able to offer a varied study programme. Regular conferences and lectures by international guest speakers complete the offer.
Learning outcomes and career openings
Students who successfully complete the study programme will have acquired the skills to
– Analyse complex phenomena related to Islam and Muslims in a European and Swiss context using different disciplinary approaches;
– Transpose existing knowledge to new contexts in a dynamic interaction between Islam and society;
– Formulate innovative research ideas in previously little explored domains;
– Develop independent scientific positions in a highly controversial and polarised area of research and debate;
– Formulate results based on scholarly standards, also taking into consideration the different expectations of political and social actors.
Many lines of work today require skills connected to cultural and religious diversity. Graduates of the Islam and Society master's degree programme may consider the following professional fields:
- Public administration and institutions;
- Social area;
- Diplomatic service, political parties and foundations;
- Adult education;
- Religious communities and organisations;
- Diversity management in the private sector;
- Communications and media;
- Migration and intercultural competence;
- Civil society organisations (NGOs);
- Academic research and scholarship.
Structure of studies
90 ECTS credits, 3 semesters
Master's degree programmes are built on the knowledge and abilities that were acquired when obtaining a bachelor's degree.
Holders of a bachelor's degree awarded by a Swiss university are admitted to a master's degree programme without any preconditions if they have earned 60 or 90 ECTS credits depending on the chosen master's degree programme within the corresponding discipline. However, additional requirements can be required. The same applies to holders of a bachelor's degree awarded by a foreign university, provided that the bachelor's degree is recognised and considered equivalent by the University of Fribourg.
Holders of a bachelor's degree awarded by a Swiss or a foreign university, provided that the bachelor's degree is recognised and considered equivalent by the University of Fribourg, who do not fulfil this condition can be admitted to a master's degree programme with preconditions (which must be successfully completed before starting the master's degree programme) and/or additional requirements (which can be completed during the master's degree programme). The preconditions and/or additional requirements may not exceed 60 ECTS credits in total. The same applies to holders of a bachelor's degree awarded by a Swiss university of applied sciences, according to existing agreements.
The respective conditions of admission for each master's degree programme are reserved.
Also offered as a minor study programme (30 ECTS credits).
Minor study programmes to be chosen
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The master programme in Italian applies the didactic approach characteristic of the Fribourg school, using methods of philological research and formalist and stylistic criticism, combined with the advantages of literary history. Two areas of study are available: - advanced literature studies taking into account both textual research and the historical dimension of literature; - the study of various aspects of Italian culture, which are well represented in the range of courses offered by the Faculty of Humanities. Particular emphasis is placed on the texts and themes of mediaeval and Renaissance literature on the one hand and those of the modern and contemporary periods on the other.
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Furthermore, in partnership with the Department of Culture e civilità of the University of Verona in Italy, the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Fribourg has set up an optional Double Degree programme culminating in a master's degree of 120 ECTS credits, to be completed in four semesters, two in Fribourg and two in Verona. This option was born of the awareness of the complementarity and syntony, both scientific and didactic, between the Department of Italian of the University of Fribourg and the Department of Culture e civilità of the University of Verona, with which there has long been a fruitful collaboration.
This master programme broadens students' Latin language skills and enhances their knowledge of the culture and literature of Latin antiquity. It further encompasses the lasting influence of this heritage through the centuries of Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
The study programme consists of a common core made up of a literature course, a reading course and two seminars on Latin language and culture. A practical workshop gives students the opportunity to learn the basics of scientific research and do hands-on training in areas such as papyrology, palaeography, codicology and text edition.
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The Middle Ages generally refers to the period of European cultures from the 5th to the 15th centuries. Interdisciplinary research into the heterogeneous and diverse culture of the European Middle Ages also serves to gain a deeper understanding of modern and contemporary developments.
Medieval Studies, an interdisciplinary minor study programme in the master's degree course, is aimed at students majoring in a subject that focuses on the medieval period who wish to gain complementary or more advanced knowledge and skills in other, interdisciplinary fields of medieval civilisation. This course is run by the Medieval Institute of the University of Fribourg.
This interdisciplinary study programme focuses on the individual and social components of multilingualism. The emphasis is placed not only on the acquisitional, cognitive and didactic processes of multilingualism but also on the institutional, political and economic dimensions of linguistic diversity in contemporary societies.
The study programme is deeply rooted in research on multilingual repertoires, the dynamics of change to languages in contact, the role of languages in the construction of social inequalities, language challenges in migratory situations and the different forms of institutional management of linguistic diversity. There is a practical module with an internship to allow students to relate theory to social reality.
A Rhaeto-Romance option is also available in this master's course for those wishing to go deeper into Rhaeto-Romance linguistics and literature. This option offers the possibility to conduct research projects dedicated to Rhaeto-Romance languages.
This master programme proposes an investigation of the techniques, methods and functions of historical and critical approaches to music in an interdisciplinary perspective. It is concerned with the relations between music and texts, between music and the stage, and music and the visual arts, particularly in the case of film music and opera production. The study programme also offers themed courses and seminars on musical analysis as related to different periods in the history of Western music.
During their master's studies, students will follow courses and seminars partly in French and partly in German. They are encouraged to take an interest in the research and popularisation activities which are organised by the Department. The various examinations can be taken in one of three languages: French, German or Italian. Students also have the possibility of writing their master's thesis in one of the three languages.
The master programme in philosophy allows students by its rigorous approach to deepen their understanding of the main issues and currents of Western philosophical tradition, from Antiquity to the contemporary period. An advanced programme is offered in the fields of Systematic Philosophy (epistemology and metaphysics; philosophy of language, of mind and of human sciences; ethics and political philosophy; aesthetics and philosophy of art) and History of Philosophy (ancient philosophy; medieval philosophy; modern and contemporary philosophy).
This programme is unique in Switzerland due to the richness and diversity of its methodological approach, to its broad systematic scope, to the optional possibility of bilingual studies and due to the particularly close ties existing at the Department of Philosophy in Fribourg between teaching and research activities.
Each semester, several international colloquia are organised and well-known philosophers from other Universities and countries invited to present their work. These activities allow students to get directly acquainted with central issues discussed in the ongoing international debate and to get into contact with researchers belonging to the international philosophical community.
At master's level, this study programme in physics provides students with advanced courses and starts the process of specialisation. About half of the courses are compulsory and of general interest, the other half consists of more specialised elective courses.
The master's thesis will be supervised by an active researcher and initiates students to the frontiers of research, in the following subjects: Atomic physics, Electrons in solids, Soft matter and photonics, Theoretical interdisciplinary physics, Collective quantum phenomena and Nanosciences (Nanomaterials).
At the end of the programme, students will have learned how to apply their knowledge to do research projects and how to work independently or integrate into an interdisciplinary research team.
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The master programme deepens the skills acquired during the bachelor's course in Rhaeto-Romance language and literature. In the linguistics section, emphasis is placed on aspects of individual and societal multilingualism, as well as on more practical issues of the use and promotion of the language. The literary section of the course takes a more in-depth look at the literary traditions of the canton of Grisons, including in relation to neighbouring literary traditions, and with a particular focus on the critical application of theoretical models. An internship allows students to relate theory to actual fields of work. Graduates are qualified to work in Rhaeto-Romance institutions, the media or teaching, and research.
The master programme requires thorough knowledge of at least one variant of Rhaeto-Romance. A number of lectures will be in German and/or French.
The master programme in Slavic studies at the University of Fribourg offers the opportunity of intensive analysis of cultural developments and traditions in Russia and Poland. The emphasis is on the period from the 19th to the 21st century. Students examine literature, philosophy and cultural criticism with regard to their relevance for contemporary social constellations and current political tendencies. The languages of instruction are German and French. Seminars are also regularly held in Russian. There are frequent visits from guest lecturers from the Slavic region.
The University of Fribourg offers a wide range of Eastern European exchange programmes, research projects and academic and cultural events organised by various institutes. This gives our students the possibility of interdisciplinary exchange and a chance to broaden their academic and their personal horizons.
This master programme allows students to acquire knowledge in the four following fields: different types of Hispanic literature in their historical and cultural context and in terms of their mutual relationships; study of the Spanish language in its historical development and in its current varieties (Spain and Latin America); analysis of literary and linguistic modernity; documentation and research techniques.
Fribourg's specific teaching has an inter-cultural focus and a dual linguistic and philological perspective. It is the only university specialised in the latter.
The programme comprises four compulsory modules, two of which concern the historical perspective and two of which concern modernity.
This study programme in sport sciences is based on the idea that to understand the issues of the future in relation to sports and well-being through motor activity calls for more in-depth knowledge, notably in the fields of movement and training, as well as in neuropsychology and sports education.
The master programme thus gives students the opportunity to increase the depth and scope of their acquired knowledge and to pursue the specialisation ( «Teaching» or «Health and Research» ) that they chose during their bachelor's degree.
The fact that this course of study is taught at the Medicine Section of the Faculty of Science and Medicine and the special emphasis on a «class-seminar/workshop» structure, as well as the partnership with the Swiss Federal Institute of Sports Magglingen (SFISM) mean that the underlying conditions for teaching and research in the field of sport sciences are extremely favourable.
In the context of a state university, theology makes a specific contribution to research: an intellectual, scientific and rational exploration of the Christian approach to the question of God, in particular from the perspective of the Catholic tradition. The other fields of study extend the theological line of thought by juxtaposing it with other ways of perceiving reality.
The richness of theology as a field of study encourages students to continue for another two years after their bachelor's degree to complete a master's degree (complete study programme, 120 ECTS credits). The master's thesis gives students the opportunity to test their ability to produce a piece of personal academic research. Students are admitted to the degree of Master of Theology with Specialisation with a score of 60 of the total 120 ECTS credits in the chosen specialisation: 30 ECTS credits for the respective lectures and 30 ECTS credits for the thesis. Possible topics are, for example, the Christian Orient, interreligious dialogue, practical theology or the New Testament in its cultural and historical setting.