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1 year full-time, 2 or 3 years part-time



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Course details

Led by the University’s world-renowned Centre for Catholic Studies (CCS) in partnership with the Department of Theology and Religion our MA in Catholic Theology will provide you with an in-depth knowledge of individual figures, periods, themes and areas of Catholic theology.

The MA is particularly suitable if you have an undergraduate education in Theology, Religious Studies, or a related discipline. It is an excellent foundation for doctoral work, and for those pursuing ongoing personal and professional development.

You will undertake a ‘Preliminary Tour’ as a core module while three further optional modules will enable you to adopt a historical and philosophical approach to the subject from an ethical and political perspective through the study of topics such as faith and reason, twentieth century Catholic theology and conceiving change in contemporary Catholicism.

You will also be required to complete a dissertation which will provide the opportunity for you to develop a specialism in a subject of your own choosing, under the guidance of a supervisor.

The course is offered part-time over two or three years via distance learning. It has been set up to enable you to study from wherever you live regardless of your time zone, however there will be a residential session of 2-3 days in the University each year. The residential is an important part of the course. It offers a valuable opportunity to connect with fellow students and lecturers and to attend a series of tailored lectures and seminar sessions. For those attending the residential, there is an additional fee to cover costs.

As a distance learner, you will be considered a valued and engaged member of the CCS and the Department’s student body as whole. We are fully committed to making the high-quality academic study of Catholic theology available to students in different parts of the world and in a wide variety of life situations.

Course structure

Core module:

Catholic Theology: A Preliminary Tour provides a strong intellectual foundation to help you move from undergraduate studies in theology and religious studies or in related subjects such as classics, philosophy, history or literature to the study of Catholic theology at a more advanced level. You will also gain training in research methods and resources that are used in the academic study of Catholic theology.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Conceiving Change in Contemporary Catholicism
  • Twentieth-Century Catholic Theology
  • Catholic Social Thought and Practice
  • The Theology of Thomas Aquinas Selected Topics
  • Faith and Reason
  • High Medieval Franciscan Theology


Small group seminars and tutorials make up the majority of the teaching on the course with the aim being to nurture the range of skills and activities that are necessary for academic research.

You will learn how to develop your own knowledge and form your own opinions in areas of particular interest to you and you will also strengthen your ability to offer critical analysis and systematic thought as well as hone your presentational skills, all of which are essential for independent and cutting-edge research.

Some classes include a lecture-style element which will provide you with the key information and knowledge required to go on and develop your own understanding of the subject, while the dissertation will be on a topic proposed by you with guidance from your supervisor.


Assessment is rigorous and continues throughout the course. Some of the modules are assessed through essays, oral exams and written exams. You will be required to complete a dissertation of 12,000-15,000 words on a subject of particular interest to you with support from a supervisor in individual tutorials.

Entry requirements

  • A 2:1 undergraduate degree in Theology, or Religious Studies or a related discipline.
  • The three principle exceptions to this rule are
    • Graduates of other disciplines who have studied at an 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, religious studies or studies in a related discipline comparable with completion of an English BA.
    • Students who have already passed the module ‘Catholic Theology: A Preliminary Tour’ with a score of 60 or higher.

A 500-word personal statement should include the following:

  • An outline of your interest in the MA in Catholic Theology (DL)
  • What skills and knowledge you would bring to the course
  • What skills and knowledge you would hope to acquire
  • A preliminary indication of the area in which you might like to write your dissertation.

A brief one-on-one interview with a programme convenor.

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

For those attending the residential, there is an additional fee to cover costs.

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
Find out more

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