Commission doctorale en sciences des religions



This UCLouvain doctorate focuses on the study of religion (any religion or religions) and related phenomena (e.g., irreligion, secularism, spirituality, values, rituals, beliefs) from an arts & humanities and/or social sciences perspective. The doctoral work may adopt either a fully interdisciplinary approach or a mono-disciplinary approach but highly sensitive to interdisciplinarity.

UCLouvain has a long research tradition and doctoral training on sciences of religions across disciplines. This new doctorate, started in 2016, puts a stronger emphasis on (a) interdisciplinarity and (b) sciences of religion as an integrated field.

This doctorate at the UCLouvain includes:

(a) Doctoral research of +/ four years or equivalent

(b) Doctoral training (mainly in the first two years) through seminars, courses, and research meetings

(c) Research competence demonstration through conferences presentations, research papers/publications, summer school participation, other scientific activities and the doctoral dissertation (volume)

The list of the scientific activities and corresponding credits (as for 2017-2018) is here.

Prior to the obtention of the diploma at least one publication should have been published or accepted and one conference paper, preferably in an international conference, should have been presented.

Language: Courses and seminars will be often in French; but parts of them can/may be in English; and the doctoral dissertation and other research outcomes and activities can be in English or in a another international language.

The UCL doctorate is inserted into the Doctoral School (EDOREL) in sciences of religion of the CFB (Communauté Française de Belgique) approved by the FNRS (National Fund for Scientific Research). This School includes the Universities of Louvain (UCL), Brussels (ULB), and Liège (ULg).

Doctoral commission (CDSR)

The doctoral commission approves the doctoral cursus of all PhD candidates at all steps, from initial admission to final degree attribution, through validation of the individual cursus and of the intermediate steps.

President: Prof. Vassilis Saroglou (psychology)

Secretary: Prof. Philippe Cornu (Buddhism-Hinduism)

Members: Profs. Louis-Léon Christians (law), Jean Leclercq (philosophy), Walter Lesch (philosophy and theology), Olivier Servais (socio-anthropology and history)

PhD students' representative: Gregory Vandamme

Administrative Staff: Pascale Hoffmann

Doctoral committee and jury

The PhD committee is composed by the promotor and two professors/researchers, all holding a PhD. The promotor and at least one of the two committee members are members of the UCL. In case of a co-promotion, with a second promotor possibly from another academic institution than the UCL, the committee goes up to four members. The same holds in the case of a “co-tutelle”, i.e. a doctorate possibly jointly with another academic institution. At least one member of the PhD committee is from another research group (and discipline) than the promotor.

The candidate meets with the promotor regularly and is preferably inserted into the latter’s research group. S/he may also meet, when necessary, individually, the committee’s members. S/he meets with the whole PhD committee at least once yearly. During these latter meetings, the committee validates or not the formal steps of the candidate’s progress.

The jury that will finally evaluate the doctoral dissertation is composed by the committee members enlarged with additional external members.

Promotors and research groups

The following list is indicative of professors who are clearly involved with the scientific study of religion/s at the UCL. The list is indicative and not exhaustive.

Socio-Anthropology - LAAP (Laboratoire d’anthropologie prospective)
Olivier Servais, Pierre-Joseph Laurent, Anne-Marie Vuillemenot

Socio-Anthropology and Political Sciences of IslamCISMOC (Centre interdisciplinaire d'études de l'Islam dans le monde contemporain)
Brigitte Maréchal

PsychologyPREL (Centre for Psychology of Religion)
Vassilis Saroglou, James Day

Law & CriminologyChair in Law and Religions
Louis-Léon Christians, Fabienne Brion

PhilosophyISP (Institut Supérieur de Philosophie)
Jean Leclercq, Walter Lesch, Marc Maesschalck

HistoryLaRHis (Laboratory of historical Studies)
Luc Courtois, Silvia Mostaccio

Art/literatureINCAL (Institute of Civilizations, Arts, and Letters)
Wathée-Delmotte, Ralph Dekoninck, Agnès Guiderdoni (Western), Cécile Bonmariage, Johannes Den Heijzer, Godefroid De Callatay (Islamic/Arab)

EducationGRER (Research group in education and religions)
Henri Derroitte

Comparative religion, theologies, and sciences of religionTECO (Faculty of Theology)
Philippe Cornu (Buddhism-Hinduism), Didier Luciani (Judaism)
for Christianity, see the list of TECO's professors.

Initial steps for PhD applicants

1. Eligibility: Applicants should have a Master’s degree in any domain of human and social sciences, and average of a grade of “Distinction” (for Belgium) or equivalent (for other countries), both for the whole Master’s cycle and the Master’s thesis. Depending on the candidate’s previous cursus (on other than sciences of religion field), the doctoral commission may impose a complementary cursus (see the Regulations for more details).

2. A PhD applicant has first to contact a potential promotor (see the indicative list above), discuss with him/her, and agree on a project.

3. Subsequently, the applicant introduces his/her formal application to the Doctoral Commission, by sending electronically, in an integrated pdf file, the following documents to the Commission’s administrative secretary Pascale Hoffmann :

(a) Scientific project (max. 3 pages + references), initially approved by the promotor
(b) Curriculum Vitae
(c) Copy/ies of the previous degree/s-diploma/s, with, in addition, official and detailed by year information on the courses followed and the corresponding credits and grades
(d) Master’s thesis: title, promotor, and grade as well as a maximum one page summary
(e) Suggested Committee members (if not at the first step of submission, then the next one)
(f) Provisional calendar for +/- 4 years or equivalent and planned activities for the first 2 years (if not at the first step of submission, then the next one)

This pdf file (as well as, in future steps of the cursus, other documents for approval) has to be submitted at the latest ten days before the CDSR meeting.
For 2017-2018, the meetings of the CDSR are in:

September 13
November 22
February 8
April 19
June 27

4. In parallel, the applicant applies for registration as a student at the UCL. Depending on the previous cursus, this may be a first registration (FR EN) or a re-registration (FR EN).


Regulations of the Doctorate at the UCL

Specific dispositions of the Doctoral Commission (CDSR)


Practical issues

(general information for the UCL doctoral students)

Central UCL web pages: for future PhD students FR EN

Tuition fees: FR EN

Fellowships and other sources of funding: FR EN

Campus life: FR EN

For advertising the Doctorate, you can use: FR EN


For any information and clarification relative to the program, not included above, as well as for applications and following of the administrative steps: Pascale Hoffmann, administrative staff CDSR. Email  or  phone (+32) (0) 10 47 45 93

For a promotor: see the list above

For additional necessary scientific information-clarification: Prof. Vassilis Saroglou, President CDSR.