Theology and Religion - Quaker Studies specialism PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

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We offer promising candidates the opportunity to carry out research in one of the UK’s largest and most diverse Departments of Theology and Religion. We have an outstanding international reputation in the study of all types of religion in the contemporary world, with a strong tradition in Quaker Studies. At Birmingham, you will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of The Centre for Postgraduate Quaker Studies (CPQS), which is a joint venture between Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre and the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion at Birmingham.

Course fact file

Duration: PhD – 3 years full-time; 6 years part-time; MA by Research – 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

Start date: January 2014, September 2014


The MA by Research programme requires you to prepare a dissertation of up to 40,000 words on a topic of your choice, for which an academic staff member will provide expert supervision.

The PhD – the most advanced research degree – leads to a dissertation of up to 80,000 words on a subject of your choice and under the expert supervision of an academic member of staff. You can study for a PhD on campus or by Distance Learning.

At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.

Why study this course

You will benefit from the association Birmingham has with Woodbrooke, a Quaker study centre with an international reputation based in the heart of Quaker Birmingham in the beautiful Victorian home of George Cadbury. Not only that, you’ll have access to two excellent libraries to draw from, and the option of living and learning in a community at Woodbrooke.

Facts about Woodbrooke

  • HG Wood, Director of Studies at Woodbrooke in the 1920s, was the first Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham.
  • Since 1995, Woodbrooke has been involved in postgraduate research degrees in Quaker Studies with the Universities of Birmingham and Sunderland, and with Birmingham alone since 2003.
  • There are over 30 students enrolled in CPQS programmes.
  • The Quaker Studies Research Association (QSRA,) is based at Woodbrooke, as is the Series Editorship of the Series in Quaker Studies of the Edwin Mellen Press.
  • The refereed journal, Quaker Studies, is co-sponsored by QSRA and CPQS.
  • Woodbrooke is the venue for the QSRA Annual Conference and hosts the prestigious annual George Richardson Lecture in Quaker Studies.
  • With QSRA, Woodbrooke offers new postgraduates in Quaker Studies the chance to apply for the annual David Adshead Award which gives five days resident study time in the library.
  • Every two years, there is a ten-day Quaker Studies Research Summer School.
  • Woodbrooke is based in the heart of Quaker Birmingham in the beautiful Victorian home of George Cadbury and has an international reputation as a Quaker study centre.

The Woodbrooke library is the main Quaker collection in Europe outside of Friends House. It carries many first edition seventeenth-century and eighteenth-century books and tracts, includes the unique Bevan-Naish Collection, and has unrivalled 24 hour access for those resident in the college. 


Birmingham - the City

Birmingham is an exciting environment in which to study.  Britain’s second city and served by excellent public transport and air travel links, it is close to many places of outstanding historical, industrial, and cultural interest including Stratford upon Avon.  People of many cultures and religions live in and around the city and it is rich in opportunities to learn more about other faiths as well as how a cosmopolitan multi-faith environment functions.

In Quaker terms, Birmingham is close to Fenny Drayton, birthplace of George Fox, and Ironbridge where Quaker families were so instrumental in the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution.  There is a high Quaker population in and around Birmingham with many Meeting Houses to visit and plenty of scope for sociological work.  Woodbrooke is located very close to Bournville with its model village developed by the Cadbury family and distinctive Meeting House. 

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2014/15 are currently as follows:

  • Home / EU £3,996 full-time; £1,998 part-time
  • Overseas: £12,565 full-time; £6,282.50 part-time

Learn more about fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To be eligible for these awards, candidates must hold either an offer of a place to study or have submitted an application to study at the University. 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

Applicants for research degrees should normally have a first- or upper second-class Honours degree in Theology, Religious Studies or a related discipline

Learn more about entry requirements

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

For applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode only:

As part of the application process for the distance learning study mode, we will ask you to provide evidence to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study for a PhD by Distance Learning. Please be prepared to provide evidence, and details, of the following:

  • Examples of your postgraduate research experience and ability to work independently e.g. papers/presentations at professional and academic conferences or publications in professional journals or previous completion of an independent research project, etc.
  • Full reasons (academic and personal) for registering for the distance learning mode of study rather than by standard full or part-time on-campus options. In particular, how you will be able to carry out your project in your chosen location.
  • Access to local library facilities (where needed)
  • Access to IT facilities
  • Access to communications, including e-mail and visual communication media e.g. Skype and Facetime
  • Access to facilities to support any study-related disability (where appropriate)

You can upload this information at the time of application - when asked to provide supporting documentation - or via your applicant portal once you have submitted your application.

For all applicants:

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

Research interests of staff

  • Present-day Quakerism; sociology of religion
    Contact: Dr Ben Pink Dandelion
    Tel: +44 (0)121 415 6782

Related research


The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

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.

Our Theology graduates develop a range of skills including, critical and analytical ability, and the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines, which be used in a variety of occupations. A snapshot of graduate destinations over a five-year period has identified a variety of career paths, from careers in churches of various denominations to working as teachers in schools. In this time, over 94% of our postgraduate researchers in Theology and Religion have been in work and/or further study six months after graduation.