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Course content

Research profile

Religious Studies or the Study of Religion/s is a vibrant research cluster, based in theoretically informed and comparative studies of religion.

You can specialise in a variety of areas which include contemporary and historical topics and fields such as Asian Studies, History of Religions/New Religions, and Jewish Studies.

You will be encouraged to frame your research using a range of theoretical and methodological approaches, from the classic to the cutting-edge. You will be able to draw on methodological expertise which includes biographical analysis, discourse analysis, ethnography, historical and textual studies, memory studies and narrative studies. The thematic interests of academic staff include ethnicity, gender, indigeneity, nationalism, textuality and the transnational.

You can find out more and identify a potential supervisor by looking at the School’s staff profiles, which give details of research interests and publications, and email addresses.

You are encouraged to contact a potential supervisor to discuss your research project before making a formal application.

At the School of Divinity you will join a community of around 150 research students, drawn from around the world, and from a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds.

You will study in a stimulating environment. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 ranked the School’s research environment at 100% world-leading / internationally excellent, second in the UK on this front in theology and religion. This outstanding result reflects the vibrancy of the School’s research culture.

Masters by Research

If you have academic training in theology or religious studies (or another relevant subject), and would like to develop your interest with a focus on a particular area, the Masters by Research may interest you.

You can study full-time (one year) or part-time (two years). Your pattern of study can either be three supervised research essays followed by a 15,000 word dissertation, or a 30,000 word dissertation. Most students take the ‘research essays + shorter dissertation’ path. All students receive research training.

Training and support

The ethos of the Graduate School is to promote excellence in postgraduate study, within a stimulating and supportive environment. We value equality and diversity in the School community, and an academic culture that is both critical and constructive.

  • At the start of the academic year, you will be invited to Welcome Week, an intensive introduction to study and life in Edinburgh. Some events are especially for international students new to Scotland and the UK, but everything is open to all.
  • In the first weeks, the School provides a general orientation to research skills and to wider opportunities for training and support.
  • From your first days as a student, you will work one-to-one with your primary research supervisor.
  • Your progress will be tracked, through regular supervisions and milestone reviews, to ensure that you get the support you need to bring your project to fruition.
  • You will be part of the research seminar in Religious Studies, to which visiting speakers are invited and to which postgraduates present work-in-progress.
  • You will be able to follow taught courses that contribute to your interests and research needs, and can also take advantage of opportunities to learn ancient and modern languages.

A University review (2015) commended the Graduate School for providing excellent support: responsive to student feedback; proactive in helping new postgraduates to adjust to their studies and to life in Scotland; enthusiastic and practical in promoting career development. The postgraduate student committee works closely with the School to make the research student experience the best it can be.

Facilities

Resources for research are excellent. You can draw on the outstanding holdings of New College Library, the University of Edinburgh’s main library, and the nearby National Library of Scotland. New College Library has one of the largest theology collections in the UK, with more than a quarter of a million items and a large and rich manuscript collection. The University library exceeds 2.25 million volumes. The National Library of Scotland – a ‘legal deposit’ library like the British Library in London and the university libraries of Oxford and Cambridge – is just around the corner.

The School provides an extensive programme of weekly research seminars and special guest lectures. In addition, three research centres provide a special focus for activity: the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins; the Centre for Theology and Public Issues; the Centre for the Study of World Christianity.

You will have access to excellent study facilities, dedicated to postgraduates. PhD and MPhil students have access 24/7, and can request an allocated desk. Masters by Research students have shared study space. All areas have printing/scanning and computer facilities. The main postgraduate study wing has a kitchen. New College has an on-site cafe that is open during term-time.


Visit the Religious Studies - MScR/MTh page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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