University of Cambridge



Theology and Religious Studies

This degree will interest those who have studied Philosophy and Ethics, History, English Literature, languages, Classical Civilisation, or Religious Studies. It explores the varied human expressions of belief, and the impact on thought and culture.

UCAS code V600 BA/TRS

Duration Three years

Colleges Available at all Colleges except Churchill

2013 entry Applications per place: 2
Number accepted: 50

Open days and events 2014 25 March (Oxford and Cambridge Theology open day in Oxford), booking required, see the Faculty website
College open days (arts)
Cambridge Open Days - 3 July, 4 July 2014

Related courses
Contact details


A relentless pursuit

Theology and Religious Studies is ever relevant in a world where religious belief is a driving force behind world events. Anyone operating internationally requires some understanding of the importance of religion and its cultural contexts. The course engages with a wide variety of disciplines from the perspectives of history, practice and thought of the major world religions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

The Theology and Religious studies course at Cambridge involves the study of sacred texts (including biblical studies), philosophy, sociology, history, language, literary criticism, and the construction of ideas. Given this breadth, students can create for themselves a varied programme of study. However, those who prefer to specialise in one area are equally able to follow a particular pathway.

The Cambridge course is a diverse and demanding degree that addresses fundamental questions through a range of religious traditions and philosophical standpoints from a global perspective.

Ancient and modern resources

The award-winning Faculty building is fully equipped with lecture and seminar rooms, a multimedia library, and audiovisual facilities. Other resources include the manuscripts held in the University Library, such as the Codex Bezae (an important early version of the Gospel) and the Genizah collection (a globally significant source for medieval Judaism).

The international teaching staff includes specialists in a variety of faith traditions. In addition, you're taught about a wide range of cultures by experts in different fields from other faculties: archaeologists, historians, philosophers and theologians.

Changing course

As well as the full three-year course, it's possible to study one or two years of Theology and Religious Studies, either before or after one or two years of another subject, such as English; Philosophy; Classics; History; Human, Social, and Political Sciences; Law; Asian and Middle Eastern Studies; History of Art; Natural Sciences; and Medicine.

Excellent careers prospects

The Theology and Religious Studies course equips students with varied and significant transferable skills that are applicable to and valuable in a wide range of professions.

It isn't surprising, then, that our graduates go on to a variety of careers, including journalism, the Civil Service, law, charities and NGOs, teaching, business, and social services, as well as some who go on to work for religious institutions and agencies.

Advanced Diploma

The Faculty offers a one-year Advanced Diploma for those who haven't studied Theology and Religious Studies at undergraduate level, but already have a degree in another subject. Contact the Faculty Office for more information.

Course outline

Teaching is provided through lectures, classes and supervisions. You can expect up to nine hours of classes and lectures each week (including six for non-language papers and three for languages), as well as a weekly supervision.

Assessment is mainly by three-hour written examinations, but some papers are assessed by coursework.

Year 1 (Part IA)

You take five papers designed to give you a broad introduction to the basic concepts, knowledge and skills required in the main areas of study. There are two compulsory subjects:

  • one scriptural language – Hebrew, New Testament Greek, Qur'anic Arabic or Sanskrit
  • a paper in biblical studies, either on the understanding of God in the Hebrew Bible or on Jesus and the Gospel's origins (you can take the other in place of one of the choices below)

Plus three other papers from a choice of five:

  • Christianity and the Transformation of Culture – considering key periods and issues in the history of Christianity and its interaction with non-Christian cultures
  • Who is Jesus Christ? – introducing some of the major themes of Christian theology through a focus on Jesus Christ
  • Understanding Contemporary Religion – an introduction to the sociological study of religion
  • World Religions in Comparative Perspective – looking at the history, beliefs and practices of the main religions of the world and the problems of comparing them
  • Philosophy of Religion and Ethics – debating questions such as the nature of metaphysics, arguments for the existence of God, and the objectivity of morals
Year 2 (Part IIA)

This builds on the knowledge and skills acquired in Part I. A wide choice of options is available, enabling you to develop a course suited to your own interests. You can choose a total of four papers out of 17.

You may wish to continue to study any of the four scriptural languages at a higher level, or you can drop the study of languages at this stage. The other papers can be freely chosen from subject areas studied in the Faculty, for example:

  • biblical studies
  • church history
  • philosophy of religion
  • the study of religion
  • world religions

You can also choose to take the Part IA Logic paper from the Philosophy course.

Year 3 (Part IIB)

In your final year, you choose four from a wide range of papers, which includes advanced papers in the Part IIA subject areas as well as Special Subjects and interdisciplinary papers, such as:

  • Theology and Science
  • Judaism and Hellenism
  • Topics in Christian Ethics
  • Self and Salvation in Indian and Western Thought
  • Sacrifice

You can choose to write a dissertation of 10,000 words in your third year instead of one paper.

Entry requirements

Typical offers require
A Level:
IB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level
For other qualifications, see our main Entrance requirements pages.

Course requirements

Essential No specific subjects
Useful AS Level/IB Standard Level or above in one or more of English, Philosophy and Ethics, Religious Studies, History, modern languages

No particular subjects at A Level (or equivalent) are required for Theology and Religious Studies and it is not necessary to have studied Religious Studies at AS or A Level. Subjects such as Religious Studies, Philosophy and Ethics, History, English and modern languages can be helpful, but so can any subjects that encourage clear, logical thinking and careful analysis of evidence. Students with a completely science background study Theology and Religious Studies and do very well.

Check College websites for College specific requirements. See also Entrance requirements and our Subject Matters leaflet for additional advice about general requirements for entry, qualifications and offers.

Admissions tests and written work

The table below sets out the ways in which each College assesses applicants for this subject. For more information about these methods of assessment and why we use them, see the main Admissions tests and written work page.

College Assessment of applicant for this subject
Christ's School/college essays
Churchill Not available at this College
Clare School/college essays
Corpus Christi School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview
Downing School/college essay
Emmanuel School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview
Fitzwilliam School/college essay; Test at interview
Girton School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview
Gonville & Caius School/college essays
Homerton School/college essay
Hughes Hall Test at interview
Jesus School/college essay
King's School/college essays
Lucy Cavendish School/college essays; Test at interview
Magdalene School/college essays; Preparatory study at interview
Murray Edwards School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview
Newnham School/college essays; Preparatory reading at interview
Pembroke School/college essays
Peterhouse School/college essays
Queens' School/college essays
Robinson School/college essay; Test at interview
St Catharine's School/college essay
St Edmund's Test at interview
St John's School/college essays
Selwyn School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview
Sidney Sussex School/college essays
Trinity School/college essay
Trinity Hall School/college essays
Wolfson School/college essay; Test at interview
How to apply

If you are interested in applying for this course, please see our Applying section for more details.

Further Resources

Find out more about Theology and Religious Studies at Cambridge

  • Course website - Explore Theology and Religious Studies in more detail on the course website.
  • Course guide - A detailed guide to the Theology and Religious Studies degree.

Improve your knowledge of Theology and Religious Studies

  • Preparatory reading - Guidance on preparatory reading for applicants interested in Theology and Religious Studies.

Tools to help you with your Theology and Religious Studies application

  • Application information - Information about applying to study Theology at Cambridge, including information about the second interview scheme for Theology applicants.

Unistats info

Contextual Information

From September 2012, every undergraduate course of more than one year's duration will have a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS allows you to compare 17 pieces of information about individual courses at different higher education institutions.

However, please note that superficially similar courses often have very different structures and objectives, and that the teaching, support and learning environment that best suits you can only be determined by identifying your own interests, needs, expectations and goals, and comparing them with detailed institution- and course-specific information.

We recommend that you look thoroughly at the course and University information contained on these webpages and consider coming to visit us on an Open Day, rather than relying solely on statistical comparison.

You may find the following notes helpful when considering information presented by the KIS.

  1. The KIS relies on superficially similar courses being coded in the same way. Whilst this works on one level, it leads to some anomalies. For example, Music courses and Music Technology courses can have exactly the same code despite being very different programmes with quite distinct educational and career outcomes.

    Any course which combines several disciplines (as many courses at Cambridge do) tends to be compared nationally with courses in just one of those disciplines, and in such cases a KIS comparison may not be an accurate or fair reflection of the reality of either. For example, you may find that when considering a degree which embraces a range of disciplines such as biology, physics, chemistry and geology (for instance, Natural Sciences at Cambridge), the comparison provided is with courses at other institutions that primarily focus on just one (or a smaller combination) of those subjects.

  2. Whilst the KIS makes reference to some broad types of financial support offered by institutions, it cannot compare packages offered by different institutions. Different students have different circumstances and requirements, and you should weigh up what matters to you most: level of fee; fee waivers; means-tested support such as bursaries; non-means-tested support such as academic scholarships and study grants; and living costs such as accommodation, travel.

  3. The KIS provides a typical cost of private (ie non-university) accommodation. This is very difficult to estimate as prices and properties vary. University accommodation can be substantially cheaper, and if you are likely to live in College for much or all of the duration of your course (as is the case at Cambridge), then the cost of private accommodation will be of less or no relevance for you. The KIS also provides the typical annual cost of university accommodation and the number of beds available. Note that since most universities offer a range of residential accommodation, you should check with institutions about the likelihood of securing a room at a price that suits your budget. Knowing the number of beds available is not necessarily useful: it may be much more important to find out if all students are guaranteed accommodation.

  4. Time in lectures, seminars and similar can vary enormously by institution depending on the structure of the course, and the quality of such contact time should be the primary consideration.

  5. Whilst starting salaries can be a useful measure, they do not give any sense of career trajectory or take account of the voluntary/low paid work that many graduates undertake initially in order to gain valuable experience necessary/advantageous for later career progression.

The above list is not exhaustive and there may be other important factors that are relevant to the choices that you are making, but we hope that this will be a useful starting point to help you delve deeper than the face value of the KIS data.