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Masters Degrees (Gnosticism)

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This programme is intended for students who hold a BA (Honours) degree or equivalent in another discipline, but who wish to acquire a knowledge of Theology and Religion at a level which would permit them to undertake further study in the subject. Read more
This programme is intended for students who hold a BA (Honours) degree or equivalent in another discipline, but who wish to acquire a knowledge of Theology and Religion at a level which would permit them to undertake further study in the subject.

Course structure

Four option modules; dissertation.

Core Modules

-Graduate Diploma dissertation

Optional Modules

-Optional Modules in previous years have included (2 choices from):
-Landscapes of Worship in Contemporary South Asia
-Literature and Theology of the Old Testament
-New Testament Theology
-Topics in Christian Ethics
-Death, Ritual and Belief
-The Making of Modern Christianity: Medieval and Reformation Europe
-Christian Theology: Essential Questions I
-Christian Theology: Essential Questions II
-God, Freedom and the Soul
-Philosophy and the Christian Tradition
-One further 20 credit module offered by the Department of Theology & Religion at Levels 1 or 2

Plus 2 choices from:
-Biblical Theology
-Advanced Greek Texts
-Religious Innovations
-New Testament Ethics
-Issues in Old Testament Studies
-The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent
-The First Urban Churches
-Religion and Film
-Religious Violence in the Reformation Era
-Emotion and Identity in Religion
-The Sociology of Conservative Protestantism
-The Postmodern God
-1 Peter and the Petrine Tradition (English)
-1 Peter and the Petrine Tradition (with Greek)
-The Theology of Thomas Aquinas
-Marriage and Family in Christian Social Teaching
-War and Peace in the Orthodox Tradition
-Gospel, Mission and Empire
-The Letters of John and the origins of Gnosticism (English)
-The Letters of John and the origins of Gnosticism (Greek)
-The Historical Jesus
-Reading Greek Sources about the Historical Jesus
-Jesus Christ in the Twentieth Century
-Faith and the Experience of War in the Christian World
-Religions in Sub-Saharan Africa
-Religious Difference in the Reformation World
-The Doctrine of the Church from the Fathers to the Present

Learning and Teaching

As a student on the Graduate Diploma, you will receive on average 7.5 hours of timetabled contact per week. This will include a combination of lectures, seminars, and tutorials. Timetabled contact is only the beginning of your learning. It provides a starting point for your development as an independent learner. Typically, classroom teaching and learning will form nearly 25% of the time you will spend on your studies; you will be expected to spend the remaining 75% of your time on independent research.

The culmination of the process of your becoming an independent researcher is the Dissertation, a large research project that counts for one third of your marks. This gives you the opportunity to engage at an advanced level with creative cutting-edge research at the forefront of the discipline, working on a topic of your choice. For the dissertation you will have a supervisor who will guide and discuss your research with you. The dissertation represents the cumulative development of skills in analysis, synthesis, presentation and interpretation that the degree programme aims to foster.

In addition to all this the Department also has an extensive programme of research-related activities that you are warmly encouraged to attend. These include several research seminar series and public lectures from high-profile guest speakers and visiting scholars; the University also frequently hosts eminent and well-known visiting speakers.

Other admission requirements

It is also ideal if you have already studied theology and religion to first degree level in another country, and wish to become familiar with the critical approach to these subjects that is typical in British public universities. When applying, please ensure that your two chosen referees send their confidential academic references (using the reference form [Word]) to us in a timely manner. Please note that we are unable to accept ‘open’ references submitted by yourself. The referees may send the references by email directly from their institutional email addresses to provided they are signed, or by post to the address provided on the reference form.

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Our MA in Religious Studies allows you to specialise in one of two pathways. Asian Religions or Late Antiquity. Late Antiquity Pathway. Read more
Our MA in Religious Studies allows you to specialise in one of two pathways: Asian Religions or Late Antiquity.

Late Antiquity Pathway:

On this pathway you will discover the great religious and cultural transformations of Late Antiquity - the landmark period when contemporary world faiths emerged. This pathway draws on internationally-recognised expertise in Religion from Late Antiquity to the contemporary era, across a wide geographical area, and with sensitivity to issues in the public eye. Acquiring advanced theological, historical and linguistic skills, you will analyse major texts and artefacts of the period (200 - 800AD) to better understand the major world religions. Drawing on the concentration of expertise found in the Centre for Late Antique Religion and Culture, you will explore religions such as Paganism, Gnosticism and Zoroastrianism. A highlight is the availability of Arabic, Greek or Latin teaching for deeper understanding of original sources.

Asian Religions Pathway:

This pathway allows you to explore the religious literature and culture of South Asia or China in combination or isolation in this specialist programme. You will be rooted within the Centre for the History of Religion in Asia, with expertise ranging from Chinese Buddhism to the study of the ancient Indian religious tradition of Jainism. At the heart of the UK’s largest single concentration of Mahabharata scholars, you also have the rewarding option of gaining a firm grounding in the classical Indian language of Sanskrit if you wish.

Distinctive features

• Teaching by internationally renowned experts and informed by the latest research of our Centres for the History of Religion in Asia and Late Antique Religion and Culture.

• The opportunity to engage in postgraduate research culture, by participating in Research Centre activities

• Designed to be flexible to your interests.


This course can be completed in 1 year with full-time study or in 3 years with part-time study.

You will take a mixture of core and optional modules totalling 120 credits over two (full-time) or four (part-time) semesters.

On successful completion of the taught stage, you will progress to your dissertation (60 credits), researching and writing a dissertation (20,000 words) on a topic or theme of your choice in consultation with your academic supervisor.


Classes are delivered via small student-focussed tutorials rather than formal lectures, and with individual interests and flexibility in mind.

As part of the programme, you will be encouraged to deliver presentations to your fellow MA students within our supportive community.


Assessment is via written assignments of approximately 4,000 words, and language exams if you specialise in language study.

Career Prospects

This programme is essentially a research preparation programme. Graduates from this programme have successfully applied for funded places as PhD students. Beyond that, this programme also enhances the skills and knowledge base acquired through a first degree in Religious Studies. Previous graduates have therefore successfully embarked on careers in a range of employment, such as religious organisations, primary and secondary teaching, print and broadcasting media, and higher education administration and management.

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