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.

 

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.

Assessment

Your core modules will be assessed by written assignment; assessment methods for optional modules vary depending on options chosen. MA students will complete their programme with a 15,000-word dissertation, or a placement-based dissertation.

Why study this course

  • Truly interdisciplinary study – this programme allows you to explore a range of issues in religion and politics from different disciplinary perspectives.
  • Research expertise – the Department of Theology and Religion was ranked second in the country in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise. 
  • 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.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

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.  
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

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

Research Methods in Theology and the Study of Religion

This module unpacks the core issues of researching in theology and religious studies.It addresses debates surrounding the design, conduct, ethics and evaluation of research in a multidisciplinary subject area. It prepares you to carry out independent research and to critically assess others’ research across a wide spectrum of approaches.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

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.   
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

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. 
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

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.
Assessment: Written assignment

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 module information listed on the website for this programme is 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 2018/19 are as follows:

MA

  • UK / EU: £9,000 full-time; £4500 part-time
  • International: £16,290 full-time

Diploma

  • UK / EU: £6,000 full-time; £3,000 part-time
  • International: £16,290 full-time

Certificate

  • UK / EU: £3,000 full-time or part-time
  • International £8,145 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.

Fee status

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

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2018-19 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2018-19 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

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

Apply now

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.

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).

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive 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.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Theology and Religion

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.

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

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

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.