MA/Diploma/Certificate Religion, Politics and Society

Since the 1990s, religious issues have assumed a growing importance in global, national and regional institutions and policy processes.

This was 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. 

This 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.

EU referendum

Answering your questions and concerns about the outcome of the EU referendum.

 

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.

Why study this course

  • Taught by experts – you will study alongside some of the finest minds in Theology and Religion. We are ranked second among all Theology departments in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • Be a part of exciting department – you will be exposed to a variety of opportunities to enhance your student experience, including regular coffee mornings for staff and students, visiting speakers, lecture series and social events.
  • Flexibility – the wide range of modules on offer allows you to both identify and explore your specific interests.
  • Small classes – teaching on the Masters-level modules involve mainly small-group seminars allowing you to really get to grips with the learning material.
  • Access to a wide range of services –aas a postgraduate student you will have access to services such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work which will aid your transition from undergraduate to postgraduate level, or back into academia after a time away.  

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 typically include: 

Feminism in the Muslim World
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.   

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. 

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.

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

History

Philosophy

Department of Political Science and International Studies 


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 are as follows:

MA

  • Home / EU: £7,020 full-time; £3,510 part-time
  • Overseas: £15,660 full-time

Diploma

  • Home / EU: £4,680 full-time; £2,340 part-time
  • Overseas: £15,660 full-time

Certificate

  • Home / EU: £2,340 full-time or part-time
  • Overseas: £7,830 full-time

For part-time students studying an MA or diploma, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in year two 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

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

Before you make your application

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.

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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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 for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

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.

Accommodation

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.

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.