This programme is for students who wish to develop expertise in biblical studies, including those who want to prepare for a PhD. Its emphasis is on adding depth and breadth to expertise in biblical languages.
Finely-honed language skills are central to the programme’s engagement with the Bible, the world that produced it, and its later readers. It provides expert in-depth study of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, the wider ancient Near East and Mediterranean World, and related extra-biblical literature including the Dead Sea Scrolls.
You will be taught by leading academics with research interests in the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, early Judaism and early Christianity.
You will benefit from weekly research seminars in biblical studies, and from our Centre for the Study of Christian Origins.
This programme can be taken either as a Master of Theology (MTh) or as a Master of Science (MSc); the difference is only in the name.
This programme is run full-time over one year (or part-time over two years). You will be taught mainly in small classroom/seminar groups. You will be given training in research methods which offers a practical approach to postgraduate level skills of critical investigation and writing, and receive individual supervision for your 15,000 word dissertation.
Compulsory courses comprise two biblical language/reading courses, in Greek or Hebrew/Aramaic, and two in research methods. Many scenarios for language study can be chosen in consultation with the Programme Director. If you have only one year’s prior biblical languages study you may take Intermediate Biblical Hebrew or Intermediate New Testament Greek.
You will choose three options. At least two must be from courses in biblical studies, of which the following are examples:
The options on offer change from year to year, so please consult the Programme Director for advice on what will be available. With the agreement of your Programme Director, you may also choose options from other taught masters programmes in the School or University, and from advanced undergraduate courses such as Historical Jesus or Jesus in Film.
This programme is designed to provide a strong foundation for postgraduate research in the field or for employment in a range of areas requiring critical analysis and empathetic understanding.
The academic staff in this area can offer you research supervision in most areas of study related to the Hebrew Bible. The research interests of staff and graduate students cover pentateuchal and historical studies, poetry and prophecy, biblical theology and ethics, Hebrew language, Septuagint and targumic studies, and the Dead Sea Scrolls in their Hellenistic context.
You can find out more and identify a potential supervisor by looking at the School’s staff profiles, which give details of research interests and publications, and email addresses.
You are encouraged to contact a potential supervisor to discuss your research project before making a formal application.
At the School of Divinity you will join a community of around 150 research students, drawn from around the world, and from a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds.
You will study in a stimulating environment. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 ranked the School’s research environment at 100% world-leading / internationally excellent, second in the UK on this front in theology and religion. This outstanding result reflects the vibrancy of the School’s research culture.
The ethos of the Graduate School is to promote excellence in postgraduate study, within a stimulating and supportive environment. We value equality and diversity in the School community, and an academic culture that is both critical and constructive.
At the start of the academic year, you will be invited to Welcome Week, an intensive introduction to study and life in Edinburgh. Some events are especially for international students new to Scotland and the UK, but everything is open to all.
In the first weeks, the School provides a general orientation to research skills and to wider opportunities for training and support.
From your first days as a PhD or MPhil student, you will work one-to-one with your primary research supervisor.
Your progress will be tracked, through regular supervisions and milestone reviews, to ensure that you get the support you need to bring your project to fruition.
You will be part of the research seminar in Biblical Studies, to which visiting speakers are invited and to which postgraduates present work-in-progress.
You can also engage with the work of OTSEM, an international network of Old Testament researchers.
You will be able to follow taught courses that contribute to your interests and research needs, and can also take advantage of opportunities to learn ancient and modern languages.
If you are a PhD student, after successful completion of your first year, you will be eligible to apply for tutoring opportunities, to gain teaching experience.
A University review (2015) commended the Graduate School for providing excellent support: responsive to student feedback; proactive in helping new postgraduates to adjust to their studies and to life in Scotland; enthusiastic and practical in promoting career development. The postgraduate student committee works closely with the School to make the research student experience the best it can be.
The School of Divinity, one of the largest centres for the study of religion in the United Kingdom, is located in the historic setting of New College, close to Edinburgh Castle and overlooking Princes Street.
Resources for research are excellent. You can draw on the outstanding holdings of New College Library, the University of Edinburgh’s main library, and the nearby National Library of Scotland. New College Library has one of the largest theology collections in the UK, with more than a quarter of a million items and a large and rich manuscript collection. The University library exceeds 2.25 million volumes. The National Library of Scotland – a ‘legal deposit’ library like the British Library in London and the university libraries of Oxford and Cambridge – is just around the corner.
The School provides an extensive programme of weekly research seminars and special guest lectures. In addition, three research centres provide a special focus for activity: the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins; the Centre for Theology and Public Issues; the Centre for the Study of World Christianity.
You will have access to excellent study facilities, dedicated to postgraduates. PhD and MPhil students have access 24/7, and can request an allocated desk. Masters by Research students have shared study space. All areas have printing/scanning and computer facilities. The main postgraduate study wing has a kitchen. New College has an on-site cafe that is open during term time.
If you have academic training in theology or religious studies (or another relevant subject), and would like to develop your interest with a focus on a particular area, the Masters by Research may interest you.
This programme can be taken either as a Master of Theology by Research (MTh by Research) or as a Master of Science by Research (MScR); the difference is only in the name.
You can study full-time (one year) or part-time (two years). Your pattern of study can either be three supervised research essays followed by a 15,000 word dissertation, or a 30,000 word dissertation. Most students take the ‘research essays + shorter dissertation’ path. All students receive research training.