How can we fashion our lives in this world, so that every single person is guaranteed to be treated with dignity and so that our natural resources are safeguarded and protected? Our RWTH Aachen University Master's course of study in Theology and Global Development aims to engage with the greatest social and societal challenges of our day and age.

Our program combines the multi-layered approach of theological disciplines with other scientific approaches found in the human and social sciences – in particular those in the fields of sociology, political science and cultural geography. This is a perfect way to bring a new perspective, as well as clear goals, to Development Studies, or, in other words, to the international debate about developing countries’ specific needs.

What makes this program so unique is the interdisciplinary and practically oriented approach, while always bearing in mind religious as well as cultural processes. In this way, the realization is taken into account that knowing diverse cultures and religions, and how to deal with them, are the fundamental prerequisite for a sustainable development policy.

Solidly grounded in theology, the program focuses on Christian and non-Christian religions and their institutions, on interreligious and intercultural perspectives, as well as on ethical challenges or the consequences arising from diverse images of humanity. Furthermore, sociological, politological and cultural-geographic foundations are laid.Students examine current developmental processes and reflect on them in discourse with experts of the Aachen-based relief organization Misereor as well as of the Catholic missionary society Missio, which both support causes all over the world.

Furthermore, students gain practical experience during their studies in one particular area of international aid and are thus able to establish their own network, paving the way for later career choices. At the conclusion of their studies, students distinguish themselves and get further qualified by writing an independent scientific thesis paper on a topic of their choice. They will be advised and guided individually and professionally by their lecturers or other mentors.

Programme Structure

This course of studies is broken down into three phases, which fall into the four semesters of the Master's degree program. During the first phase, taking place in the first and second semester, the focus lies on the theoretical foundation of the two disciplines, theology and global development. The second, practical phase takes place in the third semester and is mostly kept free from lectures and seminars. It is, however, accompanied by a seminar, which prepares students for their practical work and afterwards asks them to evaluate the experiences . A colloquium and the Master's Thesis represent the final phase of studies in the fourth semester.


Module 1: The Church as an agent in development processes

  • Theological basics in ecclesiology
  • The Church as a society within society or as an alternative to society
  • The eurocentrism problem
  • The Church as a global society - Unity, universalism, Catholicism
  • The Church's function and mission with regard to social change processes

Module 2: Development: Issues, Concepts, Institutions

  • Fundamentals of development: concepts of development and postcolonial criticism related to them, questions of economic growth, gender, the role of religion for development
  • Social ethics and global public welfare
  • Global Development with regard to food, energy, and climate
  • Peace and human rights
  • Agents and institutions involved with global development

Module 3: World religions engaged in dialogue

  • An overview of world religions and their theologies:Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism
  • Interfaith dialogue: Exclusivism, inclusivism, pluralism
  • Mission and dialogue
  • The potential for peace and violence in religions
  • Contextual theologies: Theology and the Church in Asia, Africa, Latin America
  • Interculturality

Module 4: Cultural and Development History

  • The history of Christianity as cultural and development history
  • The history of mission and missionary work
  • Religion and secularity in European and Latin American societies from the 18th century to the present

Module 5: Development hermeneutics with regard to religious/sacred texts

  • Scriptural and cultural hermeneutics
  • Reception processes in the interpretation of religious texts
  • Effects of post colonialism on the development of religious scripture

Module 6: Politics, society and global development

  • Society
  • Models of society
  • Development of society
  • The global society
  • Global organisations, such as International Monetary Fund,  World Bank, UNO, UNESCO, EU
  • Shaping intercultural learning processes
  • Geographical developments

Module 7: Foreign languages

Module 8: Practical experience, travel and fieldwork

  • Practical experience in collaboration with Missio, Misereor, Caritas, deaconry, diocese, religious orders
  • Preparatory and follow-up seminar

Final Semester

  • Master's Thesis
  • Research Colloquium

Entry Requirement


  • First university degree, required qualifications according to the examination regulations
  • Proficiency in German

Career Prospects

This course of studies imparts the comprehensive knowledge and skills needed for a career in the development field, including the ability to reflect on global processes and how to approach different cultures and religions. Right from the start, practical relevance is ensured by students' contact with organizations actively involved in development and relief work. An internship offers not only important practical experience, but also opportunities to network with potential future employers. In this way, theoretical foundations are optimally combined with professional experience. Future career opportunities can open up, for instance:

  • at the executive level of church-based and non-church-based organizations, as well as of NGOs and private education institutions with country and topic specific areas of operation;
  • as adviser or academic staff dealing with development policy and the social sciences in the diverse fields of politics, business, academics and the church;
  • with media outlets concerned with issues in the areas of social science, social ethics and development policy;
  • in specialist journalism, in publishing, or in educational work at different institutions, as well as in academies, adult education centers or with the Catholic education works;
  • in pastoral function in church operated institutions, particularly as lay pastor;
  • in academics as a doctoral candidate.

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