MA/Diploma/Certificate Religion, Politics and Society

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This new programme examines the major themes around the role of religion in politics and international relations in the contemporary world and allows you to research the role of religion in society and politics, looking at both domestic and transnational contexts. It explores the theoretical, conceptual and methodological approaches to the subject by focusing on the relationship between organised religions and the nation-state, as well as the global processes that promote religious conflict and conflict resolution.

This programme is ideal for current and aspiring policymakers and analysts in international, national and regional institutions engaged in management of conflict, diversity, inter-religious relations and community development.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: MA: 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time; Diploma: 8 months full-time; Certificate: 4 months full-time

Start date: September

Details

Since the 1990s, religious issues have assumed a growing importance in global, national and regional institutions and policy processes, a development dramatically highlighted by the attacks on the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and the abortive attack that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania (possibly heading for the White House) on September 11, 2001, and the events that have followed since. 

The programme allows you to research the role of religion in society and politics, and its important role in public policy dimensions and significant potential for impact and intervention in the public sphere. It will also focus on the public roles of religious communities and individuals, particularly in liberal pluralist societies, and considers theoretical issues such as:

  • The relationship of religion and religious bodies to public spaces, institutions and events
  • Theological responses to public issues
  • The place of religion in public policy

There will be particular attention paid to the UK and European contexts, as well as offering the opportunity for exploring these issues in other national contexts and transnationally.

All students will take two core modules:

  • Religion in Contemporary Global Politics I
  • Religion in Contemporary Global Politics II

MA and Diploma students will also study a core module in Research Methods.

If you are studying for the Certificate, you will choose one optional module, while MA and Diploma students will choose three optional modules. MA students will complete their programme with a 15,000-word dissertation, or a placement-based dissertation.

Modules

You will study two core modules:

Religion in Contemporary Global Politics I

This module focuses on 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 increasingly contested by the impact of globalisation and the rise of anti-secular movements. The module will critically examine 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. Following an introduction to the theoretical perspectives the course will focus on three particular themes: religious nationalism; religious identities and mobilisation; and religious transnationalism. The module concludes by reflecting on the wider implications for the study of politics and international relations of organised religious movements today.

Religion in Contemporary Global 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, in the last decade there has been an increasing recognition of the need to manage religious differences and 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 religions. Following an examination of these debates and the assumptions underpinning them, the module will evaluate policy response in three contexts: the United Nations system; transnational organisations; and national and local public policy agendas. The module concludes by reflecting critically on the achievements and the limitations of integrating organised religions into public policy implementation.  

MA and Diploma students will also study a core module in Research Methods:

Research Methods

This module consists of ten discipline-specific sessions taught by members of the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion. Topics that will be addressed include some or all of the following: conducting empirical research; reading in theology; research skills; dissertation planning; textual studies; and historical research.

Certificate students will choose one optional module, while MA and Diploma students will choose three optional modules. Options available within Theology and Religion include:

  • Feminism in the Muslim World
  • Islam in Diaspora
  • Political Islam
  • Religious Diversity
  • Religion and Peace-building
  • Sikh Perspectives Interreligious Relations

You can also choose up to two of your options from modules available in other Departments:

  • America as a World Power
  • Contemporary Themes and Issues in British Politics
  • Diplomacy and Statecraft
  • Economic diplomacy and negotiation
  • Ethical Dimensions of Terrorism, Political Violence and War
  • Foreign Policy Analysis
  • Gender and Global Governance
  • Globalisation and Governance
  • Globalisation Since 1945
  • Global Bioethics
  • Global Ethics I
  • Global Ethics II
  • Human Rights   
  • Making Sense of the World: Themes in Global History
  • Multiculturalism and Religious Conflict
  • Nations and Their Neighbours
  • Politics and the State
  • Terrorism and Contemporary Conflict
  • Terrorism and Political Violence
  • The Theory and Ethics of Terrorism and Political Violence
  • US Foreign and Defence Policy

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Full-time fees for 2014/15 are as follows: 

 MA

  • Home/EU: £5,940 full-time; £2,970 part-time
  • Overseas: £13,665 full-time

Diploma

  • Home/EU: £3,960 full-time
  • Overseas: £13,665 full-time

Certificate:

  • Home/EU: £1,980 full-time
  • Overseas: £6,832.50 full-time

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 - including those due to graduate in summer 2014 - may be entitled to a fee reduction through the College of Arts and Law Alumni Bursary scheme.

Entry requirements

You will need an Honours degree, normally of an upper second class standard.

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

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

Learning and teaching

As well as the taught modules you take on this programme, the Department of Theology and Religion has a busy 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 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).

Employability

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, textual analysis, and the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines, which be used in a variety of occupations.