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Religion and Public Life MA

Course Description

Religion and faith are major influences on social, cultural and political life around the world. This interdisciplinary MA draws on a range of perspectives to study the public roles of religious communities and individuals.

You’ll think about theological and philosophical responses to issues in the public sphere, the place of religion in public policy on issues such as discrimination and multiculturalism, and the bonds that tie individuals to their communities. Using approaches from sociology, religious studies, theology, history, anthropology and philosophy among others, you’ll also learn about the research process.

Core modules will introduce you to key issues and approaches, and you’ll choose from optional modules to explore topics that suit your interests such as religion and gender, Muslims and multiculturalism, or remembering the Holocaust. Guided by experts in an active research environment, you’ll gain an insight into the significance of religion in the public sphere.

This programme is also available to study part-time over 24 months.

Course content

In your first semester you’ll take a core module that develops your understanding of the research process, equipping you with a range of skills from different disciplines. You’ll learn about interviewing and other forms of fieldwork as well as working with legal and historical documents, the use of theory and ethics among others.

A second core module in the following semester will build your knowledge of the role of religion in public life, focusing on issues such as the meaning of secular and post-secular society, tolerance and religious freedom, multiculturalism and globalisation. By the end of the year, you’ll be able to showcase the knowledge and skills you’ve gained with your dissertation – an independently researched project on a topic of your choice – and you can even choose to extend your dissertation to go into greater depth.

You’ll also have the chance to select from a range of optional modules. These will allow you to specialise in topics that suit your interests, from religion and global development to Islam in the modern world. You’ll take two optional modules if you do the standard dissertation, or you can swap one for the extended dissertation.

If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.

Course structure

Compulsory modules

There are three compulsory modules throughout the year including the Dissertation (60 credits). You’ll then choose two optional modules, or just one if you select the Extended Dissertation (90 credits).

  • Religion and Society: Research Process and Methods 30 credits
  • Religion, Society and Public Life 30 credits

Optional modules

  • Unfinished Business: Trauma, Cultural Memory and the Holocaust 30 credits
  • Modernity and the Jews 30 credits
  • Science and Religion Historically Considered 30 credits
  • Sin, Public Discourse and Public Life 30 credits
  • Religions and Global Development 30 credits
  • Contemporary Issues in Religion and Gender 30 credits
  • Muslims, Multiculturalism and the State 30 credits
  • Religion, Politics and the Future: From Apocalypse to Utopia 30 credits
  • Theology and Public Life 30 credits
  • Research Project (Theology and Religious Studies) 30 credits
  • Special Options in Theology and Religious Studies 30 credits

For more information on typical modules, read Religion and Public Life MA Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information on typical modules, read Religion and Public Life MA Part Time in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

Most of our taught modules use a combination of lectures and seminars, which allow you to discuss the issues arising from your lectures and reading. Independent study is also an important element of this programme, as it allows you to develop your skills and gives you space to form your own ideas.


We also use a range of assessment methods. These usually include essays, but some modules may involve project reports and presentations. Modules taught by other Schools within the University may also use different methods.

Career opportunities

This programme will equip you with diverse and in-depth subject knowledge, as well as strong political and cultural awareness. These are all valuable in a wide range of careers – and you’ll also have advanced skills in areas such as analysis and interpretation, oral and written communication, and different types of research.

Graduates pursue careers in a variety of sectors including the charity sector, NGOs, education, local government, civil service and policy work, business and legal services, the media and social work. Many also continue their studies at PhD level, and even pursue academic careers after this.

We offer plenty of support to boost your employability, including an impressive array of research training offered by the School, the University Library and the Leeds Humanities Research Institute. The School also has a dedicated postgraduate employment advisor who can offer tailored careers advice.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Visit the Religion and Public Life MA page on the University of Leeds website for more details!

(Student Profile)

SueAnn Johnson

MA in Religion and Public Life

Campaign worker for the Democratic Party during US Presidential elections.
"It's been exciting to meet many of the candidates personally and to be able to ask them directly about the issues I feel are important. I am loving being involved in grass roots politics".

(Student Profile)

Chloe Morland

MA Religion and Public Life

Relationship Management for the Bible Society, working on a fundraising programme.

"It's great to be working in an area which is directly related to my Masters and with others who are just as interested as I am in the subject matter".

(Student Profile)

Caroline Starkey

"I thoroughly enjoyed my MA in Religion and Public Life at Leeds. Although I was working full-time, the Department were very supportive, friendly and helpful and the course has opened so many doors for me".

(Student Profile)

Jasjit Singh

MA Religion and Public Life
PhD ongoing

"Since joining the Theology and Religious Studies department at Leeds, I have completed an MA with distinction, have delivered papers at conferences, published book reviews in journals and am now undertaking a fully-funded PhD. Come to Leeds, you won't regret it"!

(Student Profile)

Amy Russell

BA Theology and Religious Studies and English literature
MA Religion and Public Life
PhD ongoing

"The past year has been one of the busiest and most demanding ones of my life, but it has also been one of the most enjoyable. It feels like I've finally found where I'm meant to be".


Entry Requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (Hons) in theology, religious studies or another humanities or social science subject. Other subjects will only be considered if you can show you have relevant experience, background or private study in the field of religion and public life. We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. English language requirements: IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component .

Last Updated

10 August 2017

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