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. This programme is delivered in collaboration with The Centre for Postgraduate Quaker Studies (CPQS) at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, the world’s leading centre for research into Quakers and Quakerism. CPQS staff offer supervision expertise in all areas of Quakerism including history, theology, sociology, and literary studies.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Distance learning, doctoral research

Study Options: Full time, part time

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

Start date: January, September


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 an MA by Research or PhD programme on campus or by distance learning. Please note that if you are studying with us by distance learning, there is a compulsory annual visit to campus (every two years for part-time PhD students) - please see our frequently asked questions about distance learning to find out more.

Profiles of our current Theology and Religion doctoral researchers

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 2015/16 are currently as follows:

  • Home / EU £4,052 full-time; £2,026 part-time
  • Overseas: £13,195 full-time; £6,597.50 part-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments.

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

Learn more about postgraduate tuituion 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

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

Research interests of staff

Supervision is available in all areas of Quaker Studies, but particular interests include:

  • Present-day Quakerism; sociology of religion
  • Quaker values in Education: truth, justice, equality, simplicity, care, peace and sustainability, and how these are, or can be, enacted in educational practices

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.

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 92% 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. For those in further study, teacher training courses remain a popular choice. Other students use their transferable skills in a range of employment sectors, including local government, education and charities. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include: British Council; Church of England; Institute of Education; International Greek New Testament Project; Quaker Homeless Action; Queens Ecumenical Theological College; and University of Birmingham.