BA Philosophy, Religion and Ethics

What is the meaning and goal of life? How do different religions, cultures and philosophies understand the human predicament?

Are there shared human values? Can we prove the existence of God? Can different religions coexist peacefully? What is spirituality? Is there a resurgence of religion? What are the challenges for contemporary religious thinking and practice? These are just a few of the questions that you might encounter as part of BA Philosophy, Religion and Ethics.

Studying on the BA Philosophy, Religion and Ethics at the University of Birmingham allows you to address issues and questions that occur at the ‘borderlands’ between Philosophy and Theology/Religion, thus developing your intellectual curiosity for critical issues. Students studying on this programme rate it extremely highly – 90% reported that they are satisfied with the quality of the course in the latest National Student Survey.

Hannah Rockey

Hannah Rockey

“The skills you learn when studying Philosophy, Religion and Ethics, such as being able to analyse information, recognise a strong or weak argument, empathise with people and take a step back and appreciate other people's views and what influences those views, are really important. It’s a friendly department and you get a lot of choice when it comes to picking your modules. There are so many modules here that are really, really interesting, it's always quite hard to narrow them down!”

The programme is situated in the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion and draws on some of the strongest aspects within the School in terms of expertise and teaching excellence, including two research centres: The Centre for Global Ethics and the John Hick Centre for the Philosophy of Religion

BA Philosophy, Religion and Ethics will seek to provide you with an understanding and appreciation of key areas in philosophy, ethics, theology and the study of religion, develop your interest in and enthusiasm for critical issues and foster within you good argumentative skills, critical and reflective thinking, and a familiarity with a range of academic methods.

You will have the opportunity to tailor your programme so that you can focus on the areas of the discipline that interest you most. For example you can choose from modules such as:

  • Paradigms of Belief
  • Sex, Ethics and Philosophy
  • Global Bioethics
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Christian Muslim Relations

You will benefit from an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment within the School which is focused on ensuring you are a fully supported and active learner.

Why study this course

  • Highly-rated department – The Department of Theology and Religion is ranked 6th in the Guardian Subject League Table 2015.
  • Excellent employability development – boost your employability skills by completing a placement module where you have the opportunity to spend time in a school, charity or even abroad.
  • 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.
  • Friendly and relaxed atmosphere – staff will know you by name and are always happy to talk you outside of lecture hours and provide additional feedback on academic performance.
  • Be a part of an exciting department – You will be exposed to a variety of opportunities to enhance your student experience including regular coffee mornings for staff and students to get together informally, visiting speakers and lecture series to social events.

Open day talk


The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

First year

We offer students a broad foundation for the academic study of philosophy, religion and ethics. At this stage the modules are mainly compulsory and introduce the broad themes and issues in philosophy, religion and ethics.
Single Honours students take the three core modules, a 'module outside the main discipline' (MOMD) and any 40 credits from the optional modules.

Core modules

  • Introduction to Study of Religion (20)
  • Problems of Philosophy(20)  
  • Reasoning (10)
  • Moral Problems: An Introduction to Practical Ethics (10)
  • Ethics (10)
  • Philosophy of Religion (10)
  • MOMD (20)

Optional modules

  • Introduction to Islam (10)
  • Defining Jews, Jewishness and Judaism(s) (10)
  • Introduction to the Study of the Holocaust (10)
  • Themes in Christian Theology (20)

Second year

In Year Two the focus is on ‘paradigms of belief’: the different structures, worldviews and systems that inform and direct human life and activity in its global variety.

The range of optional modules – divided into philosophical/ethical and religious/theological streams – allows students freedom to develop their own interests and specialisations. Students take the compulsory module Paradigms of Belief and any 100 credits from the optional modules available.

Core module 

  • Paradigms of Belief  (20)    

Optional modules 

At least 40 credits of optional modules should be chosen from each group (lists are indicative and subject to variation each year):

Group A (Theology and Religion)

  • Biblical Hebrew Language (20) 
  • Buddhism (10) 
  • Dissertation Preparation (10) 
  • Holocaust in History and Memory (20) 
  • Islam and the West (10) 
  • New Testament Greek (20) 
  • Paradigms of Beleif (20) 
  • Placement (20) 
  • Theological Ethics (20)
  • Religion in Contemporary Society (20) 
  • Religion and the Arts (10) 
  • Sikhism (10)
  • Special Study (20) 
  • Theological Ethics (20) 
  • Women in Islam (10) 

Group B (Philosophy)

  • The Mind Body Problem (20)
  • Sex, Ethics and Philosophy (20)
  • Speaking of Things (20)
  • The Ethics of Killing (20)
  • Feminist Philosophy (20)
  • The Ethics and Politics of Climate Change (20)
  • History of Analytic Philosophy (20)
  • Experience and Reason: Early Modern Philosophy (20)
  • Elements of Logic and Metaphysics (20) 
  • Logic: Its Limits and Scope (20) 

Final year

In Year Three there is one compulsory element: a major module in the Philosophy of Religion. Similar to Year Two, there are a range of optional modules and further opportunities for independent study divided into philosophical/ethical and religious/theological streams.

Students will take the compulsory module and any 100 credits from the optional modules available.

Core modules

  • Philosophy of Religion (20)

Optional modules

At least 20 credits should be chosen from each group (lists are indicative and subject to variation each year):

Group A (Theology and Religion)

  • Biblical Hebrew Language (20) 
  • Christian/Muslim Relations (10)
  • Contemporary Sufi Movements (10)
  • Dissertation (40) 
  • Short Dissertation (20) 
  • Islamic Philosophy (10) 
  • New Age and Alternative Spiritualties (20)
  • Jewish Religious Responses to the Holocaust (20)
  • New Testament Greek (20) 
  • Queer Bibles and Theologies (10) 
  • Religion and the Arts (10) 
  • Pentecostal and Charismatic Theology (T&R 20)
  • The Bible and Scared Space (10)
  • Thealogy: Transgressive Travels with the Goddess (20)
  • Special Stufy (20)
  • World Christianities (20) 

Group B (Philosophy)

  • Philosophical Project with Stage 2 (20) 
  • Global Bioethics (20)
  • Nietzsche (20)
  • Reason and Belief: Topics in Epistemology (20)
  • Philosophy of Time Travel (20) 
  • Topics in Philosophy of Religion (20)
  • Ethical Theology: Doing Right and Being Good (20) 
  • Prejudice, Race and Gender (20) 
  • Philosophy of Language and the Linguistic Study of Meaning (20) 
  • What there is: Issues in Ontology (20) 
  • Science and Nature (20) 
  • Philosophy of Maths (20)
  • Minds, Brains, Computers: Issues in the Philosophy of Cognitive Science (20)

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply

Learn more about fees and funding 


Learn more about scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
General Studies:

International baccalaureate update

Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements.

Additional information:

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

International students:

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at

Learn more about applying.

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates


You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and welfare advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Transition review - you will undergo a formal transition review during your first year with an academic member of staff. They will see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support.
  • Academic Skills Centre - the centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

Interactive classes are offered in modules which don't feature separate seminars. Here, lecturing time and discussion time are part of the same session and the structure of the classes can be very flexible.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.


Each module is assessed independently by exams, essays or other forms of written assignment. Some modules are completely assessed by coursework. Most first-year modules are assessed by both an essay written during the year and an exam at the end of the year, with each given equal weight. The assessment for second- and third-year modules also varies. Many modules are assessed by two essays, while some are assessed by an essay and an exam. The Philosophical Project module is assessed by a single long essay of about 6,000 words.

Studying one of our Theology degrees at the University of Birmingham you will acquire skills highly sought after by employers within the graduate job market:

  • Understanding complex information
  • Writing clearly and effectively
  • Build a case to critically assess a particular point of view, strategy or course of action
  • Respecting the views of others even if they disagree with you
  • Generally thinking for yourself

The University of Birmingham has been ranked 4th in the UK for graduate prospects in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015. Our graduates from the Department of Theology and Religion have excellent employment prospects with 85% of graduates entering work, earning an average salary of £18,000 within six months of graduation.

Graduates in disciplines such as Ethics, Theology and Religion and Philosophy go on to pursue highly successful careers in professions:

• Law
• Journalism
• Teaching
• Management consultancy
• Local government
• Publishing
• Marketing
• Charity administration
• Social policy

Therefore, studying one of our Theology and Religion degrees from the University of Birmingham opens the door to a wide range of careers. Some graduates choose to progress to further study, not just in theology and religion but in politics, international development, sociology and other others.

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • Cultural Internships - our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - our College of Arts and Law Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of our academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.
  • Personal Skills Award - our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Student Experience Officers

Our Student Experience Officers will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.


Coming to Birmingham 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 culture, 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.