Theology and Religion MRes

The MRes degree is a research programme with some provision for taught modules.

Research expertise includes the study of Christianity, the Bible and Christian thought, including, for example, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Queer and Intercultural theologies; biblical hermeneutics; gender and religion; philosophy of religion and philosophical theology; and approaches to Hebrew Bible or New Testament studies drawing upon literary, ideological, reception-focussed, historical or cultural methodologies.

Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham was ranked second among all Theology departments in the country in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework exercise.

The Theology and Religion MRes is a research degree that includes taught components; it may be followed as an end in itself, but also provides an excellent foundation for subsequent doctoral research.

The programme comprises four components; a compulsory Research Methodology module; two optional modules from the range available in the Department of Theology and Religion; and a 20,000-word thesis on a topic of your choice.

Your thesis can focus on any aspect of the study of Christian thought and theology or of Biblical Studies that interests you, but among the Department’s strengths are areas such as hermeneutics, contextual and intercultural theologies and other approaches to biblical interpretation; the Dead Sea Scrolls; contemporary and philosophical theology; Evangelical/Charismatic, queer, liberationist and Asian feminist theologies/approaches to the Bible and Theology; and historical, cultural-critical, reception-critical and literary approaches to the Bible.

Why study this course

  • The MRes is an excellent transition into research for applicants who already have a Theology or Religious Studies background and are exploring the possibility of future doctoral studies, a research or other academic career, or simply want to explore in detail a topic that they find particularly fascinating.
  • The University of Birmingham is an excellent centre for the study of religion and culture.  It has built up good relationships and partnerships with Birmingham's many different communities, and such a rich cultural mix means that it provides an ideal setting to study the relations between Religion and Culture. The city is recognised as one of the most multicultural cities in Europe, with representation from most religious traditions
  • Theology and Religion celebrated excellent Research Assessment Exercise 2014 results  - 51 % of research at the University of Birmingham for Theology and Religious Studies was top 4*  rated ‘world-leading’, A further 28% was rated 3* ‘internationally excellent’.


You will study one core module:

Research Methods

This module will address topics such as: conducting empirical research; reading in theology; research skills; dissertation planning; textual studies; and historical research.

You will then choose two optional modules from a range which typically includes:

Bible and Sacred Space

This module will examine spatial concepts within biblical texts (primarily the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, with some reference to other Second Temple and early Christian literature) and critique them using spatial-critical theory. There will be an emphasis on the original settings of the texts and related archaeological findings, and also on the history of their interpretation in different contexts, with a focus on contemporary interpretation (including virtual sacred space). Key spatial themes may include, but will not be limited to: land, temple, city, country/agricultural space, and empire. The module will also deal with the ethics of examining biblical space in light of contemporary political conflicts (Israel/Palestine and Jerusalem in particular).

Contemporary Issues in Sikhism

This module will explore the workings of the Sikh religion in the contemporary world with particular reference to Sikhs in the Diaspora and in the Punjab. Examples of issues to be discussed include: attitudes towards caste, dowry and arranged marriages; questions of adaptation and dialogue in a new environment with particular emphasis on second and third generation Sikhs; and changing traditions. Legal case studies affecting the diasporic Sikh community; Kirpan and Turban will be looked at. The consequences of the play Behzti will be considered. The new religious, ethical and moral issues confronting Sikhs, e.g. abortion, homosexuality will be looked at.

Feminism in Islam

This module explores the development of feminism in the Muslim world, in particular the feminist movements active in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, and Iran, considering the aims and objectives and methodologies of these movements. Different perspectives and ideological narratives and discourses are explored, such as Muslim secular feminism and the development of Islamic feminism. Particular feminist writers and scholars are critically evaluated within these movements, such as Nawal Al-Sadawi, Fatimah Mernissi and Amina Wadud. The impact of feminism on Muslim societies is explored and evaluated during the course.

Goddess Spirituality and Thealogical Embodiment

This module introduces the pioneering and subsequent thinkers for this relatively new field of study and explores critically its key themes and its theoretical concerns. The module maps thealogy’s critical engagement with history, philosophy and theology, assessing its alternative concepts. It explores the connections between thealogy and embodiment, particularly its engagement with contemporary issues such as environmental destruction, weight-reducing diets, menstrual taboos, women and labour, female sexuality. The module problematises the predominant association of this field of study with women, assessing the contribution of male scholars to date and discussing the value of thealogical thinking for all genders.

Historical and Contemporary Debates on the Holocaust

This module introduces students to a range of historical and contemporary debates on the Holocaust. The focus is methodological, focusing on how this historical period is conceptualised, interpreted and studied, both as events were unfolding and subsequently. The module begins by considering when these events began to be spoken of and conceptualised as ‘the Holocaust’; the range of possible definitions of ‘the Holocaust’ (e.g., in relation to the experience of non-Jewish victims of Nazi persecution), and issues relating to language, terminology and the naming of these events. Consideration will be given to evaluating the range of possible perspectives and sources (often conceptualised as those of ‘victims’, ‘survivors’, ‘perpetrators’, ‘bystanders’, etc.), and whether it is possible to construct an ‘integrated’ history of the Holocaust. We will explore some ongoing controversies relating to the history and memory of the Holocaust relating to the identity and motives of the perpetrators (both German and non-German), the nature and extent of resistance, the role of survivors and their testimony in Holocaust-related trials.

Islamic Philosophy

The module traces the major developments in philosophical thinking through the classical period of Islamic thought. It includes such topics as the emergence of Islamic philosophy and its connection with Greek and Hellenistic learning, the flowering of a distinctive systematic discipline in the Islamic world, the relationship between philosophy and theology, the influence of Islamic philosophy on Jewish thought, and the transmission of philosophical method from the Arab to the European world. Emphasis will be placed upon the study of particular contributions to learning, and discussion will centre on the works of such masters as al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd, as well as al-Ghazali and his critique of falsafa.

Political Islam

The course is a detailed study and critique of the rise and development of political Islam or Islamism in the Muslim world and beyond. As such, it critically examines and evaluates the origins, roots, theory and history of Islamism. The course assesses the impact and effects of this trend on contemporary Muslim thought. Also, it investigates the causes that have led to the emergence of political Islam, its nature, agendas and role in domestic, regional and international politics. Special emphasis will be placed on the distinction between the worldviews of radical Islamism and moderate Islam. The course will be approached from three angles: governments and their Islamic oppositions, Islamism in power, and the global aspect of political Islam.

Religion in Contemporary Politics I

This module provides you with an advanced understanding of the theoretical and conceptual debates about the role of religion in contemporary global politics. Traditionally the study of political science and international relations has framed the understanding of religion within the context of secularisation and the nation-state. This interpretation is being contested by the impact of globalisation and the rise of anti-secular movements. The module critically examines the secularisation thesis as applied to the ‘West’ (developed countries) and the ‘East’ (underdeveloped countries) and evaluate the impact of globalisation on collective religious identities.

Religion in Contemporary Politics II

This module examines the public policy responses to the global religious revival since 1989. Although traditionally organised religions have been viewed as the source of intractable political conflicts, of introducing a ‘cosmic dimension’ into normal political life, in the last decade there has been an increasing recognition of the need to manage religious differences, to utilise religious resources for conflict resolution. Theoretically and conceptually this departure is anchored in the inter-related debates on multiculturalism, pluralism and the need for religious dialogue among the world’s great religion.

Sikh Perspectives on Interreligious Relations

This module will begin by looking at key concepts within Sikhism: God, Guru, Gender Equality, Salvation and Liberation. These concepts will be considered in relation to attitudes to other religions and, what might be called ‘alien contexts’. There will be a special concentration on Sikhism in diasporic contexts, particularly in the British context.

The Dead Sea Scrolls: Texts and Context

This module will examine the increasingly complex and controversial contribution of the Dead Sea Scrolls to our understanding of the history of the Second Temple Period. Particular emphasis will be placed on the profile of the collection and various methodological attempts to classify the material into components such as sectarian or non-sectarian texts. The variety of scholarly assessments of the social realities reflected in the Qumran texts and the site of Qumran will be critically evaluated.

Please note that the optional modules listed on the website for this programme are intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18:

  • Home / EU £4,180 full-time; £2,090 part-time*
  • Overseas: £15,210 full-time

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2017.

The above fee quoted is for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK.
  • If you are applying for a PhD then you will usually also need to hold a good Masters qualification.

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Additional Guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Making your application


When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

As well as the taught modules you take on this programme, the department has a programme of research seminars, conferences and workshops which you can attend, so you’ll be able to gain insight from a range of academics and peers from across the department.

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the lively international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

University of the Year for employability

Birmingham’s Theology graduates develop a broad range of transferable skills including: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on statistical research.

Over the past five years, over 95% of our postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Many of our graduates go into careers in churches of various denominations. Other students use their transferable skills in a range of employment sectors, including publishing, education and social work. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include: Church of England; Methodist Church; NHS; and University of Birmingham.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.


Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

Support in your studies

We offer an Academic Writing Advisory Service, which aims to help your transition to postgraduate research. The service offers guidance on organising your ideas and structuring an argument, referencing and avoiding plagiarism, being clear and coherent and editing your work for academic style and linguistic accuracy. Individual support is provided by a professional academic writing advisor via tutorials or email, as well as through the provision of online materials.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.