Religion, Society and Culture
3 years full time
Please note: Courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Applicants will be informed of any changes which we are required to make to course entries as a result of Covid-19.
This degree will equip you with the skills to understand religion and its power to shape the human condition This degree is designed to develop an understanding of the centrality of religion to the functioning of societies past, present and future. You will engage with the comparative study of religion, especially with the significance of myth-, ritual- and meaning-making. This is complemented by more specialised modules that explore religious practice in relation to either particular religions (such as Islam, Judaism and Christianity), particular regions (such as Asia, Africa, and Europe), or particular transnational media (the internet, film and literature).
You will engage with the role of religion in a wide range of contexts: including politics, literature, bioethics, and war. Students on this degree will benefit from the considerable strength that the Department has in the comparative study of religion, the social sciences and the study of religious texts/artefacts.
Graduates of the degree will be highly employable in a range of professions including the civil service, education, research and social work.
The degree enables you to understand better the world we live in, and to explore the forces that shape your own attitudes, hopes and fears. In turn, it will empower you to go out into the world to make a difference for the good.
Lays the foundations that are needed for higher study, providing core understandings and skills for the exploration of religion and culture.
Two compulsory religious practice modules are taken in the first year, as follows:
- Islam Observed
- Christianity in Context
at least two compulsory theory modules:
- Worldview, Faith and Identity
- God and the Good: Philosophy of Religion and Ethics AND/OR
- God and Evil
and one or two modules from a large list of electives offered by the Department of Theology and Religion and from the departments of Anthropology and Sociology. Examples of modules available in recent years include:
- People and Cultures
- Societies in Transition
- Conceptualising Society
- Biblical Hebrew
- New Testament Greek
- Introduction to Christian Theology
- Reading Biblical Texts.
One of these optional modules may be taken in your second year.
The second year builds upon the first allowing for deeper study of key themes, traditions and practices.
Candidates have to choose at least three modules from a list of electives that may include, for example:
- Death, Ritual and Belief
- Religion in Contemporary Britain
- Atheism, Belief, and the Edge of Reason
- Faith, Identity and Power in Latin America
- Sacred India: Land, Politics and Identity
- Topics in Christian Ethics
- Myth and Meaning: The Structural Analysis of Mythology
- Research Project and Colloquium in Theology and Religion
- Science and Theology: Exploring the Interface
- God and the Universe of Faiths
- Landscapes of Worship in Contemporary South Asian Religions.
They may choose to draw up to three modules from a further list of electives, examples of which might include:
- Cultures and Classifications
- Philosophy and the Christian Tradition 100–1300
- Self, Identity and Society
- The Making of Modern Christianity: Medieval and Reformation.
In your final year, you will submit a double dissertation which allows you to explore in depth a topic of your choice which is of special interest to you. In the third year you will also take optional modules, selecting from a list of modules offered by the Department of Theology and Religion and from other departments. Examples of recent modules include:
- Anthropology of Religious Controversy
- Religion and Film
- Religious Diversity in African Context
- Emotion and Identity in Religion
- The Postmodern God
- Christian Tradition and the Practice of Politics
- Faith and the Experience of War in the Christian World
- Religions in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Religion, Media and Popular Culture.
PlacementYou may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.
Students admitted to the BA (Hons) Religion, Society and Culture are able to apply to transfer to the BA (Hons) Religion, Society and Culture (with Year Abroad) course.
Durham University has over 240 student exchange agreements across the world as part of our International Exchange programmes. Our partner institutions are spread across the globe from Austria to New Zealand. Students apply for this opportunity during their first two years and (if successful) spend a year, between their second and third years at Durham in one of our overseas partner institutions.
To be a student on the BA (Hons) in Religion, Society and Culture is to undergo a process of self-discovery, within a supportive and friendly community, made up of fellow students, and staff.
Human beings always have had, and always will have, worldviews, and fundamental beliefs about the way the universe is, and their role in it. And this is the part of the human condition that is studied in a Theology and Religion Department, from a range of methodological and disciplinary perspectives: social scientific/anthropological; textual; historical, and philosophical/ethical. The Theology and Religion Department is a place where ‘belief’ and ‘beliefs’ are taken seriously, respected, and studied, whether those beliefs are atheistic, humanistic, or religious. So, for example, if you are interested in worldviews, including, for example, atheism, Christianity, or humanism, the Department of Theology and Religion is the place for you.
This process of learning and teaching is conducted using a variety of the following methods:
- Study skills classes.
All of these activities support, and are supported by, your own independent and scholarly engagement with texts and issues, and the writing of assignments, on which you will receive feedback. Through the process of doing the degree, you will grow as an independent and creative thinker and researcher.
In the first year you will receive about 8–9 hours of timetabled contact each week. First year modules are intended to provide the foundational understanding and skills necessary for work in theology and the study of religion. Weekly lectures will introduce you to the broad questions and current issues in the subject area, and will enable you to develop a clear understanding of the subject and to improve your skills in evaluating and analysing information. Seminars (typically six in each of your six modules) will give you the opportunity to engage with the topics introduced in lectures and to discuss key issues in small groups; they also promote awareness of and respect for different viewpoints and approaches, and help you articulate and develop your own views in dialogue with others. You will also be able to get detailed feedback on your essays, to help you improve the quality of your written work.
For each hour of timetabled contact, you will be expected to complete about three hours of independent research. This will enable you to broaden your subject knowledge, prepare for lectures and seminars, and complete written assignments. We will provide you with reading lists, handouts, suggestions for preparation, and other online materials to guide you in your research.
There are also four general lectures in the first year on study skills. These provide you with the basics about accessing the library, reading, note-taking, essay writing, and the like. But they also set you on the path to becoming an independent learner, helping you to understand how to find out for yourself the resources you will need and the skills you will have to develop for effective intellectual engagement with texts and issues.
Every member of staff has weekly office hours when they are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis. You will also get a personal academic adviser who meets with you a number of times each year, and is responsible for your overall academic progress. He or she is usually the first person you would turn to if you have queries or problems. Academic advisors are also very helpful when it comes to finding someone to write a reference for you!
The second and third years develop this approach of research-led learning. There is a much greater choice of modules in the second year, to allow you to pursue your own interests within theology and religion by building on the understanding and abilities you have begun to develop in the first year. There is also an increased emphasis on the development of critical and analytical skills, and on the ability to write more extensive pieces of writing based on your own research. As modules specialise more strongly in particular areas, the type of teaching varies more markedly between modules, and the kind of contact you experience depends to a greater extent on the modules you take. On average in the second year, the number of timetabled contact hours is similar to those in the first year, as are the number of hours you will need to dedicate to your own independent learning.
The culmination of the process of becoming an independent researcher is the third-year dissertation, a large research project that counts for one-third of your marks for your final year. This gives you the opportunity to engage at an advanced level with creative cutting-edge research at the forefront of the discipline, working on a topic of your choice, with a specialist within the Department. On account of the time you will need to undertake this research, timetabled contact in the third year is reduced (to an average of just under six hours a week), but this is balanced by six 45-minute tutorials of one-to-one contact with a supervisor dedicated to discussing your own research project, together with a number of classes on dissertation research skills. The dissertation is excellent not only for those students interested in further academic research, but also represents the cumulative development of skills in analysis, synthesis, presentation and interpretation which the degree aims to foster and which are highly prized by future employers.
In addition to all this, the Department also has an extensive series of research-related activities which you are warmly encouraged to attend. These include several research seminars and public lectures from high-profile guest speakers and visiting scholars; the University also frequently hosts eminent and well-known visiting speakers. You will also receive invitations to attend regular workshops that are organised by the Department and the Careers and Enterprise Centre.
A level offer – AAB including a social science or humanities subject.
BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD and A levels as above.
Typical IB score 36 to include 665 in higher level subjects.
In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:
- We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. Please contact our Admissions Selectors.
- We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.
- If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre
Science A levels
Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.
International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.
Fees and funding
Full Time Fees
|Home students||£9,250 per year|
|EU students||£22,250 per year|
|Island students||£9,250 per year|
|International students||£22,250 per year|
The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.
The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time 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
Theology and Religion
Of those students who graduated in 2018:
- 80% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes
Of those in employment:
- 74% are in a professional or managerial job
- Average salary of £25,500.
(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here www.graduateoutcomes.ac.uk)
Theology and Religion
Durham is a place of self-discovery, where ‘belief’ and ‘beliefs’ are taken seriously.
Human beings always have had, and always will have worldviews and fundamental beliefs about the way the universe is, and their role in it. This is the part of the human condition that is studied in Theology and Religion at Durham, from a range of methodological and disciplinary perspectives: social scientific/anthropological; textual; historical; and philosophical/ethical.
For more information see our department pages.
- World Top 5 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2021.
- 2nd in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2020 and The Complete University Guide 2021.
- 3rd in The Complete University Guide 2021.
- 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2021.
Research Excellence Framework
- 1st in the UK for internationally excellent and world-leading research and joint 1st for internationally excellent and world-leading research impact (REF 2014)
Library facilities for Theology and Religion in Durham are extensive, and the holdings at the Bill Bryson Library are only the beginning. Our next-door neighbour, Durham Cathedral, houses another theological library: The Sharp Library, which focuses on modern and pastoral theology. Additionally, the Meissen Library, located on level 3 of the Bill Bryson Library, is the largest collection of German-language theological materials in Britain. Some of the College libraries (notably St. Chad's College and St. John's College) hold extensive theological collections and the Department has some library resources of its own, in particular in Hebrew and Jewish studies.
The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!