MA/Diploma/Certificate Religion, Politics and Society

Start date
September
Duration
MA: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught
Fees

Annual tuition fee for 2021:
UK: £9,500 full-time
International: £20,160 full-time
More detail.

Since the 1990s, religious issues have assumed a growing importance in national and international political affairs.

This was dramatically highlighted by the September 11, 2001 attacks and the events that have followed since. This situation has obliged scholars of politics to take religion seriously while scholars of religion have to address theological topics that intersect with political issues.

Whether it is a ‘theological’ topic within political sciences or a ‘political’ topic within theology and the study of religion, both disciplines are being challenged: theologians often lack an adequate grounding in political science, and scholars of political science have not received formal training in religious studies. 

The main goal of the masters is to provide students an advanced level understanding of the conceptual debates about the role of religion in contemporary global politics at a time when religion plays more than ever a major role in the politics of nation-states and the development of the international system. 

The programme addresses major themes around the role of religion in politics and international relations in the contemporary world and allows students to research the role of religion in society and politics. It explores the theoretical 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. It also examines the public roles of religious communities and individuals and how political topics of secularism, tolerance, governance, intersect with religious groups and tradition.

This masters offers a unique bi-disciplinary approach that has been developed by internationally recognized scholars in the field of religion and politics such as Jocelyne Cesari. Tapping into the interdisciplinary expertise of the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, it operates with a groundbreaking method which mobilizes the scholarship of social sciences and religious studies to offer analysis on major issues such as: political violence, security, democracy, Human Rights and religious freedom.

This degree is ideal for building the theoretical and methodological skills of students of religion interested in interdisciplinary doctoral programs. It is also tailored to current and aspiring policymakers and analysts in international, national and regional governmental and non- governmental organizations engaged in management of conflict, diversity, inter-religious relations and community development.

 

COVID-19

Please rest assured that we will make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption, for example in response to COVID-19.

Information for future students and applicants

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.
  • Excellent reputation – Times Higher Education ranked the Department of Theology and Religion second in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise. The University of Birmingham has also been ranked as one of the world's top 50 institutions to study Theology and Religious Studies in the 2020 QS World University Rankings.
  • 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 – as 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.  

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest updates and FAQs for future students and offer-holders

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Modules

MA and Diploma students will study three core modules and three optional modules before completing their dissertation.

Certificate students will study two core modules and one optional module. 

Core modules

All students will study two core modules which include:

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’ (developing 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

Optional modules

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: 

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 

Dissertation or Practice-Based Dissertation

You will complete the programme with a research project.

If you choose to complete a written dissertation, this will be a substantial and sustained investigation of a topic related to one or more of the disciplines being studied, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.

The practice-based dissertation is ideal for those who have begun careers and are returning to study after time in employment, or those who are aiming to enhance their employability by making links within different professions. It offers a more applied, contextualised approach to independent research than the more traditional dissertation route. In addition to completing 100 hours on placement, you are asked to produce one of the following:

  • A 10,000-word dissertation critically analysing and evaluating reflecting on an aspect of the approach and/or work of the institution hosting the placement.

Or

  • A report or a piece of relevant research, or another form of media output for the placement host. This will be decided in conjunction with your dissertation supervisor and placement host supervisor.


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

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2021/22 are as follows:

  • UK: £9,500 full-time; £4,750 part-time
  • International: £20,160 full-time

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.

Fee status

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

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.

How To Apply

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students to apply is Wednesday 1 July 2020. The deadline for UK/EU students is Thursday 10 September 2020.

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

Our Standard Requirements

You will need an Honours degree, normally of an upper second class standard.

International/EU students

Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see 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.. 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.

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 21 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

Learn more about international entry requirements

International Requirements


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. 

Course delivery 

We have two teaching terms per year, the autumn term and spring term. Term dates can be found on our website. 

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each term, followed by your dissertation. Depending on the modules you take, you can typically expect six hours of classroom time per week, two per module. If you are a part-time student, you will typically take three modules across each year, followed by your dissertation. 

Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

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 your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 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 5 years, 94% of our postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2012 - 2017). 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.

 

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