Theology and Religious Studies
This degree will interest those who have studied Philosophy and Ethics, History, English Literature, 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
|Colleges||Available at all Colleges except Churchill
|2012 entry||Applications per place: 2
Number accepted: 51
|Open days and events 2013||18 March (Oxford and Cambridge Theology open day in Cambridge), booking required, see the Faculty website
College open days (arts)
Cambridge Open Days - 4 July, 5 July 2013
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, psychology, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 on the basis of two coursework essays.
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
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
- psychology and religion
- religious themes in literature
- the study of religion
- world religions
You can also choose to take the Part IA Logic paper from the Philosophy course.
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
You can choose to write a dissertation of 10,000 words in your third year instead of one paper.
Typical offers require
A Level: A*AA
IB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level
For other qualifications, see our main Entrance requirements pages.
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.
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|
|Churchill||Not available at this College|
|Clare||Test at interview; School/college essay|
|Corpus Christi||School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview|
|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 essay|
|Hughes Hall||Test at interview|
|Jesus||School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview|
|Lucy Cavendish||School/college essays; Test at interview|
|Magdalene||School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview|
|Murray Edwards||School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview|
|Newnham||School/college essays; Preparatory study 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 essay|
|Trinity Hall||School/college essay|
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.
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.
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