Theology and religious studies encompasses the study of religion, religions, the Bible and theology – not as worlds apart, but as they relate to politics, history, literature, philosophy, art and culture as well as to personal belief and practice. It is open to students of all faiths and none.
You will have the opportunity to hear world-leading scholars speak on the religious issues that affect us all, such as conflict and dialogue between religions, bioethics, justice and sustainability, and spirituality in contemporary culture.
You can take Theology & Religious Studies as an MA degree, or if you are training for the ministry or specialising in Christianity for other reasons, we also offer the specialist/professional BD and BD (Min) degrees. The structure of the programmes differs in the first two years of study.
Theology and religious studies is concerned with the critical study of religion. This programme is designed to cater for the interests of students of all faiths and none, allowing you to study a variety of religions or to focus upon the Christian tradition. It will develop your awareness of the rich scriptural, cultural, artistic and philosophical heritage of humankind.
As part of this programme you will be able to study a wide variety of subjects across the sub-disciplines of theology and religious studies and you may customise your degree by choosing to specialise in particular areas. You are also able to study other subjects offered by the University and shape your own degree programme.
In first year you might choose to focus upon the Bible and Christianity or gain a greater understanding of a wide range of religious traditions. At the same time you will be introduced to some key concerns shared by those who work in theology and religious studies:
- How do we read sacred texts?
- How do we think and speak about God?
- What defines religion and culture?
- What impact does religion make upon our social and political life?
You will also study two other subjects of your choice in year 1: see Degrees in Arts, Science and Social Sciences.
In second year you will develop your understanding further by progressing in your studies of the Christian tradition or other world faiths. More advanced courses will enable you to explore what religious believers consider to be the most significant aspects of their faith and how these impact upon their daily lives. You are also required to take a study skills course prior to entry to year three.
You will also study two other subjects in year 2: see Degrees in Arts, Science and Social Sciences.
BD and BD (Min)
The BD and BD (Min) have been developed in conversation with partners from a number of churches and voluntary bodies. These specialist degrees are primarily designed for those who intend to focus on theological concerns in their later professional life through working in pastoral ministry, the caring professions or voluntary organisations. They combine rigorous academic study with placement work and small group reflection and offer the opportunity to reflect in depth upon experience in a supportive and challenging environment.
The BD (Min) programme is only available to recognised candidates of the Church of Scotland. However, the BD is open to all and covers a very similar syllabus. We have an open and ecumenical spirit and you will be enriched by relationships with staff and students from a wide variety of denominations and traditions. Church of Scotland students who are candidates for ordination become members of a foundation of the Church of Scotland.
You will take introductory courses on the Bible, theology and religious studies. These will introduce you to some of the basic concerns of those studying religion today and give you tools for analysis and critical thinking. You will also take courses exploring theological reflection and worship which will help you to understand how theology is ‘put to work’ in the daily lives of Christians and the practice of the Church. You will undertake a placement which is an integral part of the degree programme.
In your second year you will continue to take courses in the Bible and theology. You will also study ethics and pastoral practice. You will explore some of the issues that confront believers today as they seek to reconcile their faith with the many challenges presented by contemporary technological, social and environmental change. You will continue to reflect upon your experience through structured group work.
MA and BD/BD (Min)
Years 3 and 4
If you successfully complete the courses in first and second year, you may progress to Honours (years 3 and 4).
Your Honours courses are chosen from a wide range of options including
- Christianity and bioethics
- Bible, literature and culture
- Religion in Modern Iran
- Hebrew texts: prophets and psalms
- Old Testament texts
- Epistles (Greek)
- Gospels (Greek)
- New Testament theology
- Body and belief
- Doctrine of God
- Early church history (patristic studies)
- New Testament ethics
- Political theology
- Contemporary theology
- Reformation studies
- Pastoral theology
- Women, church and change
- Worship and witness
- Church and society in Scotland.
You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation on an approved topic of your own choosing in your final year.
You can study new languages from scratch: Greek and Hebrew are available from beginner level upwards, so that you can learn to read the ancient texts of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament in their original languages.
You may study for one year of your degree at an overseas university as part of a student exchange programme. In previous years our students have studied in countries such as Germany, the Republic of Ireland and Switzerland, as well as the United States, returning with a fantastic experience of different cultures and traditions.
Career openings include all jobs where employers are looking for graduate skills. Former students have gone into business or journalism, and have worked in the charity and voluntary sectors, as well as becoming teachers, civil servants, industrial managers, university lecturers, social workers and Christian ministers (of various denominations).
Our recent graduates have been employed by
- Ithaca College, lecturer in religious studies
- Church of Scotland, minister
- NHS, chaplain
- Edinburgh City Council, principal teacher
- University of Miami, lecturer in Islamic Studies.
Academic entry requirements
for entry in 2014
MA, BD, BD (Min)
Highers: AAAA or AAABB (including English and a humanities subject or a language (including Gaelic) at grades A/B or B/A) in first sitting = unconditional offer.
Applicants who achieved AAAB or AABBB (including English and a humanities subject or a language (including Gaelic) at grades A/B or B/A) at their first sitting WILL receive an offer from the University. This offer may be conditional (on second sitting results) or unconditional, depending on how many applications are received from students who have attained these grades.
Additional offers, either conditional or unconditional, MAY be made to applicants who achieved AABB or ABBB at their first sitting. A decision re these applications will be made in March 2014 once all applications have been reviewed.
IB: A minimum of 34 points is required to be considered for an offer. Actual offers will specify subjects and grades to be attained at Higher Level.
English language requirements
For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training):
- overall score 6.5
- no sub-test less than 6.0
- or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification (see below)
Common equivalent English language qualifications:
- ibTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 20
- CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): B minimum
- CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English): C minimum
- PTE Academic (Person Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59
The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the Language Centre Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:
What do I do if...
my language qualifications are below the requirements?
The University's Language Centre offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.
my language qualifications are not listed here?
Please contact the Recruitment and International Office: Elaine.Shortt@glasgow.ac.uk
If you require a Tier 4 student visa, your qualification must be one of the secure English language tests accepted by UK Border Agency:
my academic qualifications are below the requirements?
Glasgow International College offers Foundation courses to upgrade your academic qualifications.
Visa requirements and proof of English language level
It is a visa requirement to provide information on your level of English based on an internationally recognised and secure English language test. All test reports must be no more than 2 years old. A list of these can be found on the UK Border Agency website. If you have never taken one of these tests before, you can get an initial idea of your level by using the Common European Framework self-assessment grid which gives you a level for each skill (e.g. listening B1/writing B2 etc.) However, please note that this is not a secure English language test and it is not sufficient evidence of your level of English for visa requirements.
For further information about English language, please contact the Language Centre.