BA Theology and Religion

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Is Theology and Religion an outdated, irrelevant subject? Hardly. religion, faith and spirituality are here to stay, even in a supposedly secular society like the UK. For better or worse, perhaps both, religion is an important influence on all manner of groups and individuals.

Switch on a prime-time news programme and count how many times the words 'faith', 'culture' or 'religion' are mentioned. It's a hot topic. And it's not just a local issue; it's a global issue. A basic understanding of religion and religions is indispensable knowledge for anyone functioning within a contemporary, multicultural society (and religion in today's world is a major focus of our undergraduate programme at Birmingham). An awareness of cultural sensitivities is an essential tool for many professions and careers today: in business, diplomacy, education, social work, law enforcement, and healthcare , among them.

Theology and Religion at Birmingham takes in areas as diverse as ancient religious texts, contemporary global politics, and profound issues of ethics and philosophy. You will examine from an academic perspective the beliefs and practices of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in depth, but also Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and contemporary spiritualties.

Students on the BA Theology and Religion programme rate it extremely highly, with 91% reporting that they are satisfied with the quality of the course in the latest National Student Survey.Theology and Religion graduates from Birmingham benefit from a higher than average rate of employability for the subject, with 90% going into work or study within six months of graduation. The wide range of posts they have secured include roles in education, faith-based organisations, charities, the NHS, and youth work. 

Course fact file

UCAS code: V600

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 24

Applications in 2013: 154

Typical Offer: ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

The Theology and Religion curriculum is designed to move you from a first year with generally larger compulsory classes; through a second year where there are rather more options and a compulsory placement module; to a third year where you determine your own dissertation topic, for which you receive one-on-one supervision and choose all your own modules. This approach provides scope for considerable flexibility to meet your needs, enabling you to develop a range of skills, including both academic/critical and professional abilities, and allowing for different methods of assessment over the three years.

Study Abroad Option

You'll have the option to study abroad in the second semester of your second year, so you'll still be able to complete your degree in three years. Credits are gained in your subject area at the institution you choose.  There is a wide variety of universities across the world to pick from. 

Ryan Parker, 3rd year BA Theology and Religion


Transcript

Why study this course

 

  • Birmingham is an ideal place to study Theology as it is one of the most racially, culturally and religiously diverse communities in Europe. The city of Birmingham itself is an ideal place to study Theology, as it is one of the most racially, culturally and religiously diverse communities in Europe. The Department has excellent relationships with the city's faith communities, giving students the opportunity of first-hand experience of significant religious traditions.
  • The department has excellent relationships with the city's faith communities giving students first-hand experience of significant religious traditions.
  • The department has specialist expertise in the study of many of the ideas, movements and traditions shaping the twenty-first century such as gender studies, cultural studies, global ethics, Cyber religion and the study of the Holocaust.
  • Ninety per cent of students on the BA Theology course secure a job or go into further study within six months of graduation.
  • Theology is a highly innovative department where students will benefit from inventive teaching including considering new ways to interpret the Bible, gaining understanding of interreligious relations or exploring the changing forms of religion today. Staff are committed to helping students to understand cutting edge issues.

Olivia (BA Theology and Religion graduate) "Theology is one of those subjects that is always interesting – even if you know one religion back to front, the variety of modules means you’re always learning."

Modules

First year

Your first year involves studying introductory modules that provide you with the opportunity to explore a range of topics. Single Honours students take all four  compulsory modules, a ‘module outside their main discipline’, and any 20 credits from the optional modules available. Joint Honours students take Introduction to the Study of Religion and another 40 credits of their choice.

Core modules

  • Introduction to the Study of Religion (20)
  • Introduction to Islam (20)
  • Introduction to the History of Christianity (20)
  • Introduction to Biblical Studies (20)
  • MOMD (20)

Optional modules

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

(N.B. additional module options may be available - those listed above are particularly suitable for this programme)

 

Second year

In your second year, you will be provided with a structured framework for gaining professional skills in presentation and teamwork, as well as identifying an appropriate dissertation area, research question and supervisor, and completing the initial planning and research for your final-year dissertation. You will have a wide choice of optional modules and you will also undertake a placement for around two weeks in a school, charity or other situation in the UK or abroad. You will be required to reflect critically on this placement in a written report in the light of your studies in Theology and Religion and your career aspirations.

Core modules

  • Dissertation Preparation (10)
  • Placement (10)

Optional modules

  • Religion in Contemporary Society (20)
  • Holocaust in History and Memory (20)
  • The Use and Interpretation of the Bible (20)
  • Hinduism (10)
  • Sikhism (10)
  • Buddhism (10)
  • Women in Islam (10)
  • Biblical Hebrew Language (20)
  • Special Study (20)
  • Sufism: Belief and Practice (10)
  • The Study of Christian Worship (20)
  • Theological Ethics (20)
  • Paradigms of Christian Belief (20)
  • The Study of Christian Worship (20)

Final year

In your final year students are able to specialise and engage in their own independent study by choosing a dissertation; this will be a major piece of work for which you identify your own topic and carry out research with supervisory help to produce a 12,000 or 6,000 word essay. Single Honours students take the Dissertation, Short Dissertation or Placement-Based Dissertation and choose from the optional modules available to attain 120 credits for the year. Joint Honours students choose modules which may or may not include a dissertation, depending upon their other discipline.

Core module

  • Dissertation (40)
  • Short Dissertation (20)
  • Placement-Based Dissertation (40)

Optional modules

  • Christian/Muslim Relations (10)
  • Contemporary Sufi Movements (10)
  • Religion and the Arts (10)
  • Islam in Britain (10)
  • Pentecostal & Charismatic Theology (20)
  • Jewish Religious Responses to the Holocaust (20)
  • Set Texts A (10)
  • Set Texts B (10)
  • Biblical Hebrew Language (20)
  • Thealogy: Transgressive Travels with the Goddess (20)
  • New Age and Alternative Spiritualties (20)
  • Dead Sea Scrolls: Texts and Contexts (10)
  • World Christianities (20)
  • Bible and Sacred Space (10)
  • Special Study (20)

 

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 

Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: ABB

General Studies: accepted

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34 points

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 www.ucas.com

Learn more about applying

Joint Honours combinations

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.

Learning and teaching

Seminar teaching   

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

Support

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.

 

Contact hours

We offer relatively high levels of contact time with academic staff, including guaranteed tutorial time each week.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future. 

We also rely on other assessment tasks such as multimedia portfolios, presentations, reflective practice assessments, blogs and take-home exam papers, making sure in each case that you have an excellent opportunity for demonstrating your knowledge and skills.

In our Department we use assessment as a tool for learning much more than just a way of measuring performance. So in many modules you will have both formal and informal opportunities for feedback on your performance. In fact, our feedback for formal assessment exercises has frequently been praised by our external examiners for being comprehensive, constructive and offering clear and specific suggestions for future improvements. You will receive feedback on each assessment task within four weeks.

Employability

[Video above - Dr David Cheetham discusses careers and employability during the Theology and Religion open day presentation]

As a student of Theology and Religion you will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills that are highly prized by employers. Our graduates understand complex information, write clearly and effectively, can build a case for a particular view, strategy or course of action, respect, appreciate and interpret the views of others even if they disagree with them, and think for themselves.

90% of our Theology graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation. Theology graduates from Birmingham have a higher than average starting salary of £18,000. Over 50% of job vacancies advertised for new and recent graduates don't specify a degree subject, so as a graduate of Theology and Religion you have a vast potential to enter a wide range of careers. Our graduates are very successful after graduation, starting careers with employers including teaching, local government, the NHS, charities, churches and faith-based organisations, and commercial companies, in roles as diverse as Development Worker, Minister, Policy Researcher, Project Director, Residential Support Worker, Manager and Youth Worker. If you would like to find out more, take a look at Where Next? Unlocking the Potential of your Theology or Religion Degree from The Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies at the Higher Education Academy.

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to arts graduates. Our 'Creative careers' series is always popular with our students, and features events with employers and professionals from areas such as advertising, PR and communications, media, journalism, publishing, advertising and politics. We also hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities, and our internship officer develops links with local arts organisations to create some amazing opportunities for students.

Theology alumni profiles

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. 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.

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 the College's 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.

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 are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.