The research interests of academic staff and graduate students in Ethics and Practical Theology encompass a range of theoretical and practical approaches to ethics, religion and theology, including environmental ethics, peace-building and reconciliation, ethical theory, and pastoral and practical theology.
You can find out more and identify a potential supervisor by looking at the School of Divinity’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. In the Ethics and Practical Theology research area, projects are often interdisciplinary. If this is the case, you may be jointly supervised with a subject specialist from another School in the University.
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.
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.
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.
The School of Divinity, one of the largest centres for the study of religion in the United Kingdom, is located in the historic setting of New College, close to Edinburgh Castle and overlooking Princes Street.
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 ofWorld 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.
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. This programme can be taken either as a ‘Master of Theology by Research’ or as a ‘Master of Science by Research’ – the difference is only in the name. 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.
If you want to widen the scope of careers open to you within the discipline or go on to teach, work in the ministry, in church leadership or charitable organisations this programme may help you achieve your career aspirations. Biblical and Religious Studies has been taught at Aberdeen since its inauguration in 1495 making it one of the oldest and most established universities to study this discipline area. Teachers are highly regarded internationally and the programme is made up of wide ranging spiritual areas of study. Students come from the British Isles and overseas and follow a wide range of professions upon graduation.
The programme in Biblical Studies is designed to stimulate reflection on the use of the Bible in theology by crossing the conventional disciplinary boundaries between biblical exegesis and systematic theology. Special attention will be given to the issues of canonical criticism, narrative reading, and the use of Scripture in the construction of theological arguments.
Find out more detail by visiting the programme web page
Find out about fees
*Please be advised that some programmes have different tuition fees from those listed above and that some programmes also have additional costs.
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Find out more about living in Aberdeen and living costs
Philosophy, science and religion are three endeavours that shape in far-reaching and fundamental ways how we think, what we value, and how we live. Public discourse, professional life, politics and culture revolve around the philosophical, scientific and religious ideas of our age; yet they and their relationship to each other are not well understood.
This programme brings together leaders in the fields of philosophy, science and theology, based both in Edinburgh and across the world.
Students will be brought up to date with the relevant scientific developments – including quantum mechanics, relativity, cosmology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and human origins – the relevant theological issues – including the problem of evil, miracles, theological conceptions of creation, theological conceptions of providence, and eschatology – and the philosophical tools in philosophy of science, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of language required to understand the relationship between them.
Students will develop logical acumen and analytical skills, and the ability to express themselves clearly in writing and in conversation with diverse groups of students from around the world. As well as being a leading research institution in philosophy, theology and the sciences, Edinburgh has lead the way in providing high quality, bespoke and intensive online learning at postgraduate level.
The innovative online format of the programme and the flexibility of study it offers make it accessible to those with family or professional commitments, or who live far from Edinburgh.
This MSc/PGDipl/PGCert in Philosophy, Science and Religion is designed to give you a rigorous grounding in contemporary work in the intersection of philosophy, science and religion.
This is an online only programme that will be taught through a combination of short video lectures, web discussion boards, video conferencing and online exercises.
You will have regular access both to faculty and dedicated teaching assistants, including one-to-one interactions. You will also interact with other students on the programme as part of a dedicated virtual learning environment.
You will take options from a wide range of courses offered by the Department of Philosophy and the School of Divinity both jointly and individually, and will be required to write a dissertation.
All students will be required to take two core courses: Philosophy, Science and Religion 1: The Physical World; and Philosophy, Science and Religion 2: Life and Mind.
Courses will include online lectures, tutorials, quizzes, discussion sessions and personal tutor contact.
At the dissertation stage, you will be assigned a supervisor with whom you will meet, through video conferencing, to plan and discuss your research and writing.
The MSc in Philosophy, Science and Religion aims to develop students to:
This course is designed to prepare you for doctoral work in relevant areas of philosophy and/or theology.
However, the skills of analytical but creative thinking, clear writing, and the abilities to manage projects that require significant research and to engage in constructive conversations across disciplinary and cultural boundaries, are all highly sought after by employers in a diverse range of fields.
If you want to keep our practice going whilst you study and you want to gain more insight and research to enrich your work you may be interested in studying Ministry Studies. Aberdeen has taught and researched Theology since its inauguration at Kings College in 1495. This programme is an online delivery of Ministry Studies to allow you to study at a pace that suits you and for qualifications which suit your needs. You can study for a PG Cert, PG DIploma, or and MTh which if you study for the Master's degree can be taken over a four year period.
You are taught with 4 one week modules held in September and January each year at Zomba Theological College in Malawi.
Students in Practical Theology explore the interaction between Christian faith and the wider spirituality of contemporary culture, with particular concern for the challenges and opportunities this offers in the context of the life and ministry of the church, both in Scotland and internationally. The department’s strong links to both church and clinical settings, along with the University’s extensive library holdings, make Aberdeen a dynamic and rich context in which to study theology’s capacity to contribute to the transformation of individual lives and Contemporary society.
Where you study
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Find out more about fees on the programme page
*Please be advised that some programmes also have additional costs.
The DTh is a professional doctorate programme in practical, ministry–focused theology. This programme offers strategic leadership training to senior level ministry personnel, seeking to broaden their applied theology in pastoral and missiological areas. The programme focuses on using research to develop theological practice.
There are two entry points for this programme. Stage 1A is for those with a good undergraduate degree and professional experience, and initially take a selection of preparatory taught modules. The second route, Stage 1B is for post-Masters applicants, and is an accelerated form of the course.
Regardless of entry point this programme will help those already engaged in Christian Ministry to develop the advanced research, evaluative and reflective skills necessary to further their professional and career profile. Students will prepare for more senior level, national or international roles, as leaders, advisors or consultants in ministry-related fields. As a practitioner of Practical Theology, this course will encourage you to reflect technically and theologically on your ministerial practice, and on the application of scholarship and research to a range of ministerial contexts.
In order to develop your research skills, the programme will provide you will extensive knowledge and understanding of areas of Practical Theology and the critical methods practiced at the forefront of the discipline. Students will then be able to reflect on these research methods in looking at their own practice, and you will be capable of producing findings that satisfy peer scrutiny and are deemed to be of publishable quality, making an original contribution to knowledge.
There is a wide range of areas in which students will develop their skills on this programme. You will enhance and apply your ability to handle written sources and empirical data, using appropriate advanced critical methods and controls. A further key skill is your ability to marshal coherent and effective arguments and communicate conclusions in oral and written form. The programme will moreover enable you to demonstrate a competent grasp of a range of technical skills arising within the discipline, including a range of approaches to textual historical, hermeneutical and cultural issues. You will also look at quantitative and qualitative approaches to the investigation of individual and social experience and behaviour, and be able to respond critically to their use by others.
Throughout the course, you will develop your knowledge and understanding of practical theology, alongside formal academic and practical skills.
Stage 1A: This introductory stage of the course offers a variety of taught modules on topics in contemporary ministry and religious studies taken from our Masters’ programmes in Christian Ministry and Theology and Religious Studies, respectively. Tutors will assist any student taking this phase of the course to make an appropriate selection of modules.
Stage 1B: In the first year of this stage, you will study advanced methods and approaches to practical theology, as well as undertaking a major literature review relevant to your proposed area of research. During this in–depth investigation, you will identify gaps or problems in the literature and identify one or more research questions around which you can structure your research project.
In the second year, you will conduct an in–depth study of a more focused topic, developed to the level of a publishable article, before going on to draft and present a full project proposal which must be approved before transition to the dissertation phase.
Stage 2: The final phase of the course will allow you to work closely with staff members with particular expertise in your chosen research area, developing an original and substantial investigation of potential significance both to academic inquiry and professional practice. The thesis, which will build upon your work in years one and two, will typically run to 50–60,000 words, and will be defended in a viva voce examination. Departmental research strengths include empirical, pastoral and public theology across a range of UK and global church traditions and mission contexts, including Roman Catholic, Anglican, Baptist and Pentecostal. We also have a particular strength in Black Majority Churches.
Stage 1A: (representative selection)
The DTh is intended to enable existing professionals working in church ministry, mission, education, development or the para–church sector, move into senior or national positions within visionary research–led organisations.