Skip to main content
Start Dates
Degree type


Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

Program code


Ready to Apply?

Course details

Our MA in Religion and Society will take you on a journey and offer you the opportunity to explore the fascinating field of study in which religion is considered from anthropological and sociological viewpoints, looking at its role in the origins, development and structure of human societies and cultures.

The theme and tone of the course reflects the academic strengths that the Department possesses; in particular, Mormonism, death, dying and disposal, religion and emotion, religion/faith and globalisation, religion and politics, contemporary evangelicalism and post-evangelicalism, and religion and generational change.

You will benefit from the extensive library-based resources available to the theology and religion department be it in the Department itself, in Durham Cathedral’s library or in the theological collections belonging to the University’s colleges. The Department also hosts the Centre for Death and Life Studies and the Project for Spirituality, Theology and Health.

The course includes core modules on researching religion and belief, qualitative methods in social sciences and ritual symbolism and belief in the anthropology of religion. It also includes a broad selection of optional modules that includes topics such as Christian Northumbria 600-750, literature and religion and Christian gender. You will also complete a dissertation.

Course structure

Core modules:

Researching Religion and Belief: Reflexivity, Ethics and Identity focuses on researching human experiences in the context of religion, faith or belief and the distinct challenges around the methods and ethics that researching such experiences will create. The module develops a critical understanding of a range of social scientific work on religion and belief and an understanding of the associated challenges and debates.

Qualitative Methods in Social Science equips you with the knowledge and skills to understand, conceptualise and critically appraise qualitative social sciences research to a high level, including different approaches to research and design and analysis of qualitative data. It develops the communication, time and data management, and independent study skills required for carrying out qualitative research projects.

Ritual, Symbolism and Belief in the Anthropology of Religion examines selected theories and theorists in social-cultural anthropology that concern key aspects of the relationship between religious thought and practice. This enables you to develop an informed approach to religious organisation and belief, to learn how to engage with religious communities, objects or texts and to understand the connections between anthropology and theology.

The Dissertation of between 12,000-15,000 words enables you to broaden your knowledge and understanding in a particular area of theology and religion that is of interest and to build your skills in the research, analysis and the bringing together of ideas and arguments. Support for the production of the project is provided by a dissertation supervisor.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Ecclesiology and Ethnography
  • Religion in the Neo-Liberal Age
  • Literature and Religion
  • Christian Northumbria 600-750
  • Christian Fundamentalism and the Modern World
  • Theology, Nature and Environment
  • Paul and His Interpreters
  • Christian Gender
  • Principles of Theological Ethics
  • Twentieth-Century Catholic Theology
  • Anglican Theology in Context
  • Classic Texts in Christian Theology
  • Middle Egyptian
  • Gospels and Canon
  • Doctrine of Creation
  • Faith and Reason
  • Biblical language studies, including a choice of Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew


Much of the learning is in small group seminars and tutorials that are designed to foster independent thinking while some classes adopt a lecture-style format in order to introduce key areas and provide a solid foundation of knowledge for further research and study. Class-based learning is supported by a significant level of independent learning in which you will engage with the texts and issues raised.

Areas of learning are informed by the areas of expertise that lie with staff but, importantly, the format enables you to develop the necessary research skills to take up and develop your own topics of particular interest. You will be encouraged and supported to form and express your own opinions and ideas and to respond constructively to the work of colleagues.

Many classes also include a lecture-style format that will ensure a clear understanding of complex issues on which you will base further research.

You will choose a dissertation topic linked to your own interests with guidance from your supervisor. The dissertation develops your research skills, from the use of the library to matters of referencing and bibliography and introduces you to the concepts of interpretation and argument.


Assessment methods vary by module, with the majority taking the form of coursework essays. Other forms of assessment include oral examinations, the delivery of presentations as well as written exams in the language studies option modules.

An independently researched dissertation of 12,000-15,000 words, written on a subject of your own choice and approved by your supervisor will make up a third of your course marks.

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 three principal exceptions to this rule are as follows:

  • Graduates of anthropology, sociology, psychology and other related programmes
  • 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
Find out more

Similar courses

Biblical Studies - MA

Program Code: V8K207
Start: September 2024
Biblical Studies

Catholic Theology (Distance Learning) - MA

Program Code: V8K807
Start: September 2024
Catholic Theology (Distance Learning)

Catholic Theology (Distance Learning) - PGDip

Program Code: V8K812
Start: September 2024
Catholic Theology (Distance Learning)

Catholic Theology (Distance Learning) - PCert

Program Code: V8K814
Start: September 2024
Catholic Theology (Distance Learning)

Christian Theology - MA

Program Code: V8K707
Start: September 2024
Christian Theology

Christian Theology (Anglican Studies) - MA

Program Code: V8K507
Start: September 2024
Christian Theology (Anglican Studies)

Christian Theology (Catholic Studies) - MA

Program Code: V8K607
Start: September 2024
Christian Theology (Catholic Studies)

Theology and Religion - MA

Program Code: V8K407
Start: September 2024
Theology and Religion

Theology and Religion - GDip

Program Code: V6K022
Start: September 2024
Theology and Religion