Theology and Religion PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

At Birmingham we offer promising candidates the opportunity to carry out research in one of the UK’s largest and most diverse Departments of Theology and Religion.

We offer subject specialisms in Biblical studies, Christian theology, Islamic studies, Jewish and Holocaust studies, Pentecostal and Charismatic studies, Quaker Studies and Religion and society. Please view our research interests tab above for further information on each research area.

Kylie McCormick

Kylie McCormick

PhD Theology and Religion

“I chose to study here because the University has the best reputation for this programme. There aren't a lot of schools that intertwine culture and theology, but Birmingham is one of them and it has a very world renowned reputation for that.”

We offer two options for postgraduate research, whether you are looking to complete your academic studies with a PhD or to pursue an MA by Research following an undergraduate degree a related field. To find out more about what to expect from a PhD and MA by Research, please read our detailed guidance.

Our main areas of research expertise are in: Biblical studiesChristian theologyIslamic studiesJewish and Holocaust studiesPentecostal and Charismatic studies, Philosophical theologyQuaker Studies and Religion and society.

You can study both programmes on campus or by distance learning. Our distance learning website contains useful information, including frequently asked questions, student experiences and details of the funded visit to Birmingham.

At Birmingham, you also have the opportunity to learn graduate academic languages free of charge, to support your research activity.

Why study this course

  • World-leading research: Times Higher Education ranked the Department of Theology and Religion second in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise, with over 50% of our research judged to be ‘world-leading’.
  • Partners and community: The University of Birmingham is an excellent centre for the study of religion and culture.  It has built up good relationships and partnerships with Birmingham's many different communities, and such a rich cultural mix means that it provides an ideal setting to study the relations between Religion and Culture. The city is recognised as one of the most multicultural cities in Europe, with representation from most religious traditions.
  • Employability skills: 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.
  • Global ranking: The University of Birmingham was ranked 26th in the world for Theology, Divinity & Religious Studies in the 2019 QS World University Rankings. These rankings are compiled annually to help prospective students to identify the leading universities worldwide in a particular subject.

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

  • UK/EU: £4,320 full-time; £2,160 part-time*
  • International: £17,040 full-time; £8,520 part-time

The same fees apply to both campus-based and distance learning study. The distance learning programme fee also includes a fully-funded visit to campus for each full year of the programme.

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2019.

Fee status

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


For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

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

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK.
  • Applicants for a PhD will also need to hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above (or its international equivalent).

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

International students

Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band, or PTE with 59 in all four skills. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

Learn more about international entry requirements

How to apply

Application deadlines

Postgraduate research can start at any time during the year, but it is important to allow time for us to review your application and communicate a decision. If you wish to start in September, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by 1 July 2019.

Distance learning students will attend a residential visit in September or January, and those students wishing to attend the September residential are also encouraged to apply by 1 July 2019. The visit will take place at the end of September/beginning of October and you will receive further details once you have accepted your offer.

Additional guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas, which includes detailed advice on research proposals and how to write them.

You may also 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

Our main areas of research expertise, associated staff and PhD supervision areas are included in the links below for each research area:

We have a wide range of research expertise in the Department. However, if you can not find your area of interest in our research areas, you can email our admissions tutor Dr Deryn Guest for further advice. Please send details of your qualifications, any relevant experience and a short paragraph summarising your proposed research project to d.p.guest@bham.ac.uk. Alternatively, please see our staff page for a full list of staff specialisms.

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.

Over the past five years, over 96% 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

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.