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Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

Our MA in Biblical Studies offers you the opportunity to study in depth both biblical and falsely attributed religious texts known as pseudepigrapha.

This comprehensive course is one of the three key areas of teaching and research in the Department along with Christian theology and the study of religion, and consists of two core modules – Gospels and Canon and a dissertation.

You will also be given the opportunity to select additional optional modules on topics such as faith and reason, conceiving change in contemporary Catholicism and religion in the neo-Liberal age.

The full range of biblical and ancient languages including Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, and Middle Egyptian are also studied and we are proud to be one of only a small number of universities that offers the opportunity to study such a broad range.

Durham University has a long tradition of outstanding biblical scholarship, and our course provides a wide range of distinctive approaches to biblical studies, including the historical, critical and theological that will allow you to grow and mature as independent researchers, working in your own fields of biblical interest.

Course structure

Core modules:

Gospels and Canon examines non-canonical texts and enables you to create and test relevant hypotheses with the aim of developing the appropriate research skills and experience. It shows how the understanding of familiar canonical material can be transformed when put in a wider historical context and also look at relationships between historical, theological and interpretive issues of the texts.

The Dissertation consists of a 12,000-15,000-word project that enables you to deepen your knowledge and understanding of a particular subject in the field of theology and religion that you have chosen with support from your supervisor. The independent nature of the dissertation will develop your skills in the research, analysis and synthesis of texts, data, ideas and arguments.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Paul and His Interpreters
  • Middle Egyptian
  • The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament
  • The Bible and Hermeneutics
  • Christianity in the Second Century
  • Classic Texts in Christian Theology
  • Conceiving Change in Contemporary Catholicism
  • Christian Gender
  • Doctrine of Creation
  • Anglican Theology in Context
  • Faith and Reason
  • Liturgy and Sacramentality
  • Patristic Ecclesiology
  • Theology, Nature and Environment
  • Religion in the Neo-Liberal Age
  • Biblical language studies, including a choice of Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew
  • Extended Study in Theology and Religion


The course provides a research-led approach to learning with the aim of developing your skills and abilities as an independent researcher.

Teaching is very much research-led and carried out in small-group seminars and tutorials although some classes include a lecture-style element which will help you to understand topics and then develop your knowledge away from the classroom.

Seminars boost your knowledge and understanding as a result of your preparatory work and the subsequent discussions with course colleagues and teaching staff.

The small group discussions and tutorials provide the opportunity to receive feedback on your completed items of work and to discuss specific issues in detail.

We adopt a lecture-style format where appropriate in order to help both your understanding of a subject and your ability to evaluate information and produce ideas and analysis.

Finally, the course culminates in the dissertation. This is a major piece of writing and you will receive individual support and guidance throughout the academic year from a supervisor as you complete the work.


Assessment is thorough and ongoing and is carried out by careful and exacting analysis of your completed work over the year using in some cases essays, oral examination and written exams. As a key part of the course, you will be required to complete a 12,000-15,000-word dissertation on a subject of particular interest to you.

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirement is a BA (Honours) degree (UK 2:1 or equivalent, for example, a GPA of 3.7 on a 4.0 scale) in Theology, Religious Studies or a related discipline.

The two principal exceptions to this rule are as follows:

  • Graduates of other disciplines who have studied at undergraduate or equivalent level in one or more of the areas in which they hope to work, through their first degrees, through training for the ministry of the churches, and so on
  • Students from overseas universities who have successfully reached a point in their theological studies comparable with completion of a British BA at the standard noted above - for example, on the German model, passing the Zwischenprüfung or Kolloquium and two semesters at the Hauptseminar level.

The University will contact the referees named in your application directly. Please ensure that your referees are able to provide a reference in a timely fashion. If you are also applying for a Durham MA bursary, please ensure that your referees understand that their references will be used both for admission and for a very competitive funding process.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £12,600 per year
EU students £26,750 per year
Island students £12,600 per year
International students £26,750 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £7,000 per year
EU students £14,800 per year
Island students £7,000 per year
International students £14,800 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Theology and Religion

Durham graduates are in demand across many sectors. The world-class study facilities, combined with a research-led approach to learning and the Department’s international outlook mean our postgraduate taught courses and research degrees provide the fundamental skills and personal qualities needed to succeed in the workplace.

Our Theology and Religion graduates are equipped to follow a wide range of careers, including law, politics and government, marketing, business and finance, industry, charity work, the media, journalism and the clergy. Many progress into careers with religious institutions across the world, while others work in schools, colleges and universities. Our taught MAs also offer a pathway into research and many graduates take the step into higher-level studies.

Previous employers have included Linklaters, Kirkland and Ellis, Coltraco Ultrasonics, the Home Office, Durham Police and Jaguar Land Rover.

Department information

Theology and Religion

Durham University’s Department of Theology and Religion is a supportive and vibrant international teaching and research community where ‘belief’ and ‘beliefs’ are studied in detail, whether those beliefs are atheistic, humanistic or religious.

We are a recognised global leader in the field of theology and religion. Delivered by researchers at the forefront of their disciplines, our range of highly regarded postgraduate degrees enables students to pursue their interests in the fields of theology, philosophy, religious studies, biblical studies, and ethics, through the exploration of diverse and contemporary issues such as the migrant crisis, homelessness and Catholic identity.

In the Department we have an intellectual community of more than 30 academic staff and 150 postgraduate students and researchers who join us from across the world, giving our courses a highly international focus. The local, national and international contexts in which we work and study help to build a more joined up picture of the complex world in which we live.

The Department is home to a range of research centres and projects, including the Centre for Anglican Studies, the Centre for Catholic Studies, the Centre for Death and Life Studies, and the Project for Spirituality, Theology and Health. These all help to foster a vibrant research culture, of which our postgraduates are an important part.

Our postgraduate provision is designed to develop the academic and personal qualities that are valued in the workplace and in higher-level academic research. This includes a professional development and training programme with opportunities to work as a teaching or research assistant.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 10 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 4th in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2024
  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • 6th in The Complete University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the Theology & Religion Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 4th in the UK for Research Power (REF 2021)
  • 91% research graded world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2021)


We are a leading Department in the field of Theology and Religion, uniquely situated within a World Heritage Site next to Durham Cathedral and within easy walking distance of the Students’ Union, colleges and Durham Castle. Our home, Abbey House, is an inspiring place to study and research the field of theology and religion.

We hold extensive library resources. As well as the University’s well-equipped central library which includes wide-ranging collections of rare books and manuscripts of particular interest to theology and religion students, we also hold the largest collection of German language theological materials in Britain. Next door, Durham Cathedral is home to Sharp Library, which focuses on modern and pastoral theology, while a number of college libraries also hold theological collections.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
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