MA Theology and Religion

Theology and religion is a diverse subject area that is vital for understanding the contemporary world. 

The MA in Theology and Religion is designed to accommodate study of religions and spiritualities, past and present, and prepares you for professions which depend upon an advanced understanding of how religious histories, ideas, texts, and practices permeate all societies. It also provides ideal preparation for further research at doctoral level. 

 
Dr Katherine Brown

Dr Katherine Brown

“My favourite thing about this programme is the variety of students and the range of things they bring to the course... We get so many different motivations for joining the programme and [the students] all really learn from one another. There's a really dynamic buzz of interaction.”

The programme has a wide range of modules and you can create your own pathway by choosing those that are most relevant to your interests. We cater for interests in historical traditions, ritual and practices, contemporary spiritualities, world religions, religious texts, politics, histories and ethical issues.

You will be encouraged to be critically robust in the analysis of your own and others’ presuppositions, to work independently with the guidance of module tutors and thesis supervisors, and to approach your studies in ways that demonstrate awareness of and engagement with the multi and interdisciplinary nature of issues under discussion.  

Course content

You will study one core module - Research Methods - and five options from a wide range of modules within the Department of Theology and Religion. In addition, you complete a 15,000-word dissertation. 

UK/EU students also have access to two additional options offered by Al-Mahdi Institute in Birmingham, as part of their collaboration with the Department of Theology and Religion.

Further module information is available below.

Assessment

Modules are assessed by written assignment. MA students will complete their programme with a 15,000-word dissertation, with support from a supervisor.

Why study this course

  • Flexibility – this is a broad programme with a wide range of modules on offer, allowing you to both identify and explore your specific interests.
  • 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 30 institutions to study Theology and Religious Studies in the 2019 QS World University Rankings.
  • Extracurricular opportunities – you will be exposed to a variety of opportunities to enhance your student experience, including regular coffee mornings for staff and students, visiting speakers, lecture series and social events.
  • Small classes – teaching on the Masters-level modules involve mainly small-group seminars allowing you to really get to grips with the learning material.
  • The city – Birmingham is an ideal place to study Theology and Religion. The city is one of the most culturally and religiously diverse communities in Europe and the department has excellent relationships with the city’s faith communities.

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.

Modules

Core module

You will study one core module:

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

You will choose five optional modules from a range which typically includes:

  • Advanced Biblical Studies
  • Approaches to Studying Islam (modern)
  • Approaches to Studying Islam (traditional)
  • Auschwitz in History and Memory
  • Contemporary Issues in Sikhism
  • Feminism in the Muslim World
  • God in Christian Philosophy
  • Historical and Contemporary Debates on the Holocaust
  • Holocaust and Genocide: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspectives
  • Islam in Europe
  • Islamic Philosophy
  • Jewish Religious Responses to the Holocaust
  • Muslim Thinkers of the Western World
  • Political Islam
  • Religion in Contemporary Global Politics I
  • Religion in Contemporary Global Politics II
  • Religious Nationalism
  • Sikh Perspectives on Interreligious Relations
  • The Bible and Sacred Space
  • “Women” and Wellbeing: Soulful Dimensions

For more information, see our Theology and Religion postgraduate modules.

UK/EU students also have access to two additional options offered by Al-Mahdi Institute in Birmingham, as part of their collaboration with the Department of Theology and Religion:

Mediaeval Arabic Thought

Focussing on the philosophical and theological ideas of mediaeval Arabic thinkers, this module provides you with an opportunity to study a range of thinkers and their ideas, ranging from topics such as the Graeco-Arabic translation movement during the so-called Islamic ‘Golden Age’, to the impact of Neoplatonism on Islamic philosophy, the proofs of God’s existence, political philosophy, theological reactions to Hellenistic philosophy, ethics and philosophical Sufism. It aims to give you the ability to navigate original texts in their historical context, the ability to unpack and assess philosophical arguments, to appreciate the ecumenical nature of shared philosophical and theological concerns among Jews, Christians and Muslims, and the ability to assess the compatibility or lack thereof of faith and reason during the Islamic middle ages.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Thematic Study of Shi’ism: History, Doctrines and Religious Authority

This module will you with an opportunity to review an extensive list of Western scholarship (in English) on key themes that have formed and continue to form the unique identity of Shi’ism within Islam. These themes could include: beginnings of Shi’ism; theological doctrines of Shi’ism; legal doctrines of Twelver Shi’ism; authority structures within Shi’ism; and contemporary issues of the Twelver Shi’i world.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Dissertation

In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.


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 2019/20 are as follows:

  • UK / EU: £9,250 full-time; £4,625 part-time
  • International: £17,910 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/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

We ask for 2:1 undergraduate Honours degree, preferably in a related discipline. All applications are treated on their merits, and we are happy to consider applicants whose qualifications differ, but we would encourage you to contact the Admissions Tutor for advice.

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

Please note that applications for September 2019 have now closed. Applications for September 2020 will reopen shortly.

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.

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 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.