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Course content

Our MA programme is designed both for specialists to deepen their knowledge and skills and for graduates of other Humanities disciplines to switch into postgraduate level understanding of our subjects. The key to us being able to do this is the centring of the courses around high-level, small-group seminar discussion, mainly assessed by essays that form mini-research projects in areas of your interest. These courses are followed by one-to one supervision for a research dissertation. This structure means that if you have studied an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies, Theology, Philosophy, Ethics or related subjects, the MA provides an extended opportunity to work in depth in what fascinated you in your BA, while also offering the chance for exploring other areas that you might have missed. On the other hand, if your degree is in another area of Humanities, the small-group and one-to-one focus gives us the chance to provide tailored help to get up to speed in any area of Religions and Theology. You are also able to join in undergraduate classes, whether that is to have an extended exposure to the basics of a topic or to learn a language. In fact, even students who already have a BA in the field quite often find that they want to pick up a subject that they previously missed. One of Manchester's key distinctive features is that you are very free to do this.

This programme enables specialisation, while stressing a broad, interdisciplinary and comparative approach. Courses can be taken from across the offerings within the discipline and beyond. Courses cover a wide range of topics, including Biblical studies, Jewish studies, Christian studies, South Asian studies, philosophy, ethics, gender studies and politics.


  • To provide multi-disciplinary curricula informed by the research and scholarly activities of the teaching staff.
  • To develop in students a critical understanding of religion and theology through a range of learning and teaching methods.
  • To equip students with the skills necessary to interpret primary and secondary sources and to make available appropriate language instruction, where feasible. 
  • To help students from diverse backgrounds progress though their programme by providing effective academic and pastoral support. 
  • To equip students for a variety of careers through subject specific knowledge, active engagement in their own learning and the development of analytical and other transferable skills.
  • To provide a stimulating research environment through seminars, tutorials and programmes of guest lectures that will foster postgraduate study
  • To develop skills in research and analysis that will foster postgraduate study.

Special features

Twilight menu of courses available for CPD and other study. The core courses and the main MA course unit options are generally timetabled between 4-6 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday evenings, enabling the MA to be completed by studying in time-slots designed to be as suitable as possible for continuing professional development for school-teachers and others in full or part-time work.

Multi-religious Manchester . We offer the opportunity to study the religious life of one of the world's most ethnically rich cities. Our MA covers a wide range of religious traditions. There are particular dissertation and other learning opportunities in South Asian Studies : study of religions of India, Pakistan and their neighbours, and of UK communities with roots in those countries, ethnic minorities and religious identities.

John Rylands Library . The library houses many collections of world importance, including papyri, manuscripts and the world Methodist archive. As an MA student you are able to access the archives and propose a dissertation topic using archive material, for use of which you will receive training.

Bill Williams Library. A study space for Religions and Theology, housing a major collection on Anglo-Jewish history and other resources for Jewish Studies.

Please see our Facilities section below for further information on:

  • Centre for Jewish Studies
  • Centre for Biblical Studies
  • Lincoln Theological Institute

Coursework and assessment

MA students take two core courses and up to six options, then write a dissertation. The programme takes 12 months full-time or up to 27 months part-time. Assessment is usually by essay on a topic agreed between the student and lecturer. Language course units may also involve an examination. The dissertation is 12-15000 words and you will receive one-to-one supervisory support.

Career opportunities

The primary focus of all our postgraduate degrees is to give people research skills, whether for academic work or for another career. Many professions today require investigative skills. Some in the media spend time researching angles of events that relate to religions. Some in the health service investigate the experiences of various cultural groups in accessing services. Many in museums, libraries and other archives require the textual and historical research skills that our courses teach. Postgraduate study in Religions and Theology gives you a high level qualification for a wide range of investigative tasks.

Our masters degrees qualify you for research study at Manchester or at virtually any other high-level academic institution in the world. Many of our MA students are preparing for PhD study. Other students take Manchester MAs to enhance their understanding of a particular religious tradition, either their own or that of others. The programmes in Biblical Studies and Theology, Culture and Society offer particular opportunities for continuing professional development for church ministers. All of our courses offer valuable further professional development for teachers of Religious Education. In applying for a job in any field, a Manchester postgraduate degree will mark you out as someone with high-level skills and a track-record of successful engagement with serious and complex issues.

Visit the Religions and Theology (MA) page on the University of Manchester website for more details!




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Recipient: University of Manchester

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