MA History of Christianity

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This is an interdisciplinary programme involving staff from a number of departments, each providing a different area of expertise in the subject. Our range of expertise covers all periods and a wide range of historical approaches including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and African Independent branches of Christianity, as well as church history, social history and cultural history. This gives you a rich variety of options and a range of dissertation possibilities. This programme also provides a strong theoretical grounding for those wanting to go on to further study such as PhD research.

Course fact file

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Start date: September


The MA introduces you to conceptual and theoretical approaches to the history of Christianity, as well as grounding them in key events and processes of Christianity’s past. The degree culminates in a dissertation research project in the field of your choice, overseen by a member of staff from one of our departments. 

You will study two core modules [full descriptions available below]:

  • Writing the History of Christianity
  • Research Methods 

You will also choose two or three optional modules and complete the programme with a 15,000-word dissertation.


You will complete two core modules:

Writing the History of Christianity (40 credits)

This double module provides a grounding in the methods and concepts required to study the History of Christianity while paying close attention to how this relates to the history of religion more generally. Key approaches will be introduced, including Church history, the cultural history of religion, anthropologies of Christianity, intellectual history, the history of Christian architecture and archaeology. In the first term (20 credits) these themes will be introduced through 'classic' secondary texts covering periods from early Christianity to the present, each of which employs one or more of the above approaches. In the second term (20 credits) we investigate these themes through primary sources ranging from Lives of Constantine to oral history interviews. This core module provides a wide range of concepts and approaches to choose from in embarking on your own research. They also provide grounding in key historical events and processes, from the spread of Christianity in the ancient world to the crusades, the emergence of African Christianities and globalised movements such as Pentecostalism. The precise details of the module may vary, depending on staff availability.

Historical Methods (20 credits)  

This module introduces you to approaches, theories and concepts that have shaped historical practice since the Second World War. These include developments such as the Annales School, historians’ response to Marxism and to anthropological theory, the linguistic turn, gender and critical social theory.  The focus is on the application of ideas to historical practice, investigating how medievalists, early-modernists and modernists have adapted these approaches to their particular field of study.

You will also complete 60 credits’ worth of optional modules – one 40-credit module and one 20-credit module, or three 20-credit modules. These can be language modules, including Latin or Biblical Hebrew; or they can be chosen from the Masters level (or third-year) provision of departments including History, Theology or Classics and Ancient History. This includes a wide range of the core modules for other MA courses (for instance, Reformation, Renaissance and Early Modern Studies or Philosophy, Religion and Ethics) but also includes a longer list of stand alone modules, typically including the following:

20-credit modules:

  • The Bible and Sacred Space
  • Contemporary Christian Thought
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Early Christianity
  • Historical and Contemporary Debates on the Holocaust
  • History of Evangelical and Pentecostal Movements
  • Prejudice and Persecution: Catholicism and Religious ‘others’ in Western Europe and the Latin East, 1050-1320.

40-credit modules:

  • Byzantine Art and Architecture  
  • Heresy and Heretics in the Middle Ages
  • Holy Men, Holy War: the Cistercians and the Crusades
  • Protestants, Papists and Puritans: Religious Change under Elizabeth I and James I
  • Religion in Contemporary Global Politics
  • Religious Reformations in Early Modern Britain and Europe
  • Saints and Storm Troopers: Catholicism in Early-Modern Europe
  • Science, Religion and Empire: Rediscovering the Ancient Near East

Please note that optional modules vary from year to year.

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.

University of Birmingham graduates may be entitled to a fee reduction through the College of Arts and Law Alumni Bursary scheme.

Entry requirements

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

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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

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Learning and teaching

You will benefit from the combined expertise of academics across the College of Arts and Law, providing support for you to explore your specific areas of interest.

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the vibrant 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.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support through the English for International Students Unit (EISU).


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 History graduates develop a range of skills, including familiarity with research methods, the ability to manage large and diverse quantities of information, and the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines, which can 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 journalism, to accounting, to lecturing. Historically, over 92% of our History students have been in employment or further study within six months of graduating.