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Course content

This course looks at religion from anthropological and sociological perspectives. Durham has particular strengths in the study of Mormonism; death, dying and disposal; religion and emotion; religion/faith and globalisation; religion and politics; contemporary evangelicalism and post-evangelicalism; and religion and generational change. It also boasts the Centre for Death and Life Studies and the Project for Spirituality, Theology and Health.

Course Structure

  • Social Scientific Methods in the Study of Religion core module
  • Three option modules
  • Dissertation.

Core Modules

  • Social Scientific Methods in the Study of Religion 
  • Dissertation.

Optional Modules

Optional modules in previous years have included:

2-3 choices from:

  • Ritual, Symbolism and Belief in the Anthropology of Religion
  • Theology, Ethics and Medicine
  • Literature and Religion
  • Christian Northumbria 600-750
  • Ecclesiology and Ethnography

Plus up to 1 choice from:

  • Advanced Hebrew Texts
  • Advanced Aramaic
  • Middle Egyptian
  • The Bible and Hermeneutics
  • The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament
  • Paul and his Interpreters
  • Gospels and Canon
  • Patristic Exegesis
  • Patristic Ecclesiology
  • The Anglican Theological Vision
  • Liturgy and Sacramentality
  • Classic Texts in Christian Theology
  • Conceiving Change in Contemporary Catholicism
  • Christian Gender
  • Principles of Theological Ethics
  • Catholic Social Thought
  • Doctrine of Creation
  • Selected modules from the MA in Theology and Ministry programme
  • Level 3 undergraduate module, or any Level 1 – 2 language module offered by the Department of Theology and Religion, taken in conjunction with the Extended Study in Theology & Religion module
  • 30 credits from another Board of Studies (including appropriate credit-bearing language modules offered by the University’s Centre for Foreign Language Study)

Course Learning and Teaching

Most MA teaching is delivered through small group seminars and tutorials. These exemplify and encourage the various skills and practices required for independent scholarly engagement with texts and issues. Teaching in the Department of Theology & Religion is ‘research led’ at both BA and MA levels, but particularly at MA level. Research led teaching is informed by staff research, but more importantly it aims to develop students as independent researchers themselves, able to pursue and explore their own research interests and questions. This is why the independently researched MA dissertation is the culmination of the MA programme. Such engagement with texts and issues is not only an excellent preparation for doctoral research, it also develops those skills of critical analysis, synthesis and presentation sought and required by employers.

Many MA classes will contain a ‘lecture’ element, conveying information and exemplifying an approach to the subject-matter that will enable students to develop a clear understanding of the subject and improve their own ability to analyse and evaluate information and arguments. Seminars enhance knowledge and understanding through preparation and interaction with other students and staff, promoting awareness of and respect for different viewpoints and approaches, and developing skills of articulacy, advocacy and interrogation. Through small group discussions and tutorials, feedback is provided on student work, with the opportunity to discuss specific issues in detail, enhancing student knowledge and writing skills.

The Dissertation module includes training in generic research skills, from the use of the Library to issues in referencing and bibliography. The subject specific core module introduces students to questions of interpretation and argument in the disciplines encompassed by theology and religion, and helps them to develop their own interests and questions that will issue in the MA dissertation. The latter is a piece of independent research, but it is fostered and guided through individual tutorials with a supervisor, with whom students meet throughout the academic year.

Career Opportunities

A significant number of our graduates find employment in academic institutions (universities and seminaries) around the world.

Others go into teaching, church ministry, the caring professions, and many other professional fields.


Visit the Religion and Society - MA page on the Durham University website for more details!

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