The MA in Theology and Religion is designed to accommodate the study of religions and spiritualties, past and present, and prepares you for professions that 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 the doctoral level.
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, rituals 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.
Students are trained to interrogate their own presuppositions and those of others in a critically robust manner, to approach the study of theology and religion in ways that show sensitivity to the multi-disciplinary theories and issues. Transferrable skills include the ability to deploy relevant evidence and contextual considerations and present this in the context of a written piece of work, an examination, or an oral presentation. Students also gain skills of a personal organization in terms of working to deadlines, preparing contributions for group discussion, and ensuring the best use of tutorials and seminars.
Why Study this Course?
Flexibility – the range of options on offer allows you to study religion, theology, biblical studies in historical and/or contemporary contexts, to suit your areas of interest.
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 2020 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.
You will study two core modules:
Research Methods in Theology and the Study of Religion
Dissertation Preparation and Guided Reading
You will choose four optional modules from a range which typically includes:
Religion in Contemporary Global Politics 1
Special Study - Autumn
Inter-Faith Relations and Issues
Approaches to Islamic Studies (modern and traditional)
Critical Thinkers of Modernity, Science, Society, and Religion
Gender, Sexualities, and Religion
Atheisms: From Voltaire to Dawkin
Conceptualizing God in Christian Theologies
Theology and Economics
Special Study – Spring
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:
Medieval Arabic Thought
Focussing on the philosophical and theological ideas of medieval 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 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 the 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
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.
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 career support for up to 2 years after graduation.
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 (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 including the Church of England, Methodist Church, NHS, and the University of Birmingham.