Religion and Society
Take a journey through the landscape of culture and society where you will study the impact of divine belief on the origins, development and structure of humanity.
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
|Home students||£12,600 per year|
|EU students||£26,750 per year|
|Island students||£12,600 per year|
|International students||£26,750 per year|
|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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!