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It is often said that the age in which we live is characterised by a "crisis of meaning". Many people sense the lack of clearly defined frameworks of beliefs and practices which would help to make sense of their work, relationships, and leisure. Traditionally, the religions of the world have offered people such frameworks, to which they can relate their everyday activities. For many people religion continues to perform this function. 

Theology studies the origins, the history, and the present significance of one religion, namely, Christianity, while Religious Studies is the academic discipline which studies the religions of the world as facts of human history and culture.

The University offers a specialised degree in Theology, Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), but students can also take theological papers as part of their ArtsScienceCommerceEducation, or Law degrees.

Papers in Theology will be of particular interest to students completing degrees in subjects such as HistoryPhilosophyPolitical StudiesClassical StudiesEducationPsychologyAnthropology, and Art History.

Theology courses are also offered by Distance Learning. Studying Theology through distance Learning is also an option for people who live in Dunedin; it is particularly useful for those whose work commitments prevent them from attending lectures during the day.

Master of Theology (MTheol) 

The Master of Theology (MTheol) degree requires a minimum of one year's full-time or its equivalent part-time study. MTheol students may follow research interests in Church History, New Testament, Old Testament, Pastoral Theology, or Systematic Theology.

The admission requirements are either a BA(Hons) or BTheol(Hons) degree, or a PGDipArts or PGDipTheol, or equivalent. Applicants will usually be expected to have obtained First or Second Class Honours (or equivalent) at fourth-year level before proceeding to the thesis, though each application will be judged on its merits.

Candidates are required to treat a particular research topic comprehensively, demonstrating the comprehension of major issues involved in their topic, sustaining an argument at length and presenting a thesis according to the conventions and professional standards required for publication. The degree is awarded after the satisfactory completion of a thesis of approximately 40,000 words.

The degree prepares graduates for employment in education, local and national government agencies and counseling. It also enables students to gain the research experience and communication skills necessary for an advanced professional career in Theology or for further academic study at PhD level.

Subject areas

Within the general area of Theology there are a number of subject areas:

Biblical Studies (BIBS) is devoted to the study of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, looking at the origins of the biblical writings and the history of their interpretation. Biblical Studies papers cover both the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) and the New Testament. Students can also study the biblical languages, namely classical Hebrew and New Testament Greek, to an advanced level. Some study of these languages is required for those who are accepted for the BTheol(Hons) degree

Christian Thought and History (CHTH) is a subject area which includes both Church History and Systematic Theology. Church History is concerned with the growth and development of the Church from the first century to modern times. It includes the study of major Christian controversies and their effect on the Christian and world communities.

Systematic Theology offers a critical exposition and analysis of Christian thought from both a historical and a philosophical perspective. Some papers in Systematic Theology deal with the history and nature of Christian ethical thought and with current ethical controversies.

Pastoral Studies (PAST) is particularly designed for students entering some form of church ministry. Papers in Pastoral Theology offer a multidisciplinary study of church life, offering students the opportunity to reflect on the practice of Christian ministry.


Visit the Master of Theology (MTheol) page on the University of Otago website for more details!

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