Theology, Religion & Philosophy of Religion

  • UCAS Code: V600 BA/TRS
  • Campus Code: 4
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Places per year: 1-2

Studying Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Cambridge will give you the opportunity to study a variety of faith traditions using a wide range of methods, including historical, anthropological, psychological, literary, philological, ethical and philosophical, as well as theological. Your teachers will be leaders in their field, which is one reason why the University of Cambridge’s BA Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion was ranked first in the UK in 2018 by the Complete University Guide.

All students must learn a scriptural language in their first year (Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, or Sanskrit) and language skills can be helpful – though mathematicians and musicians also often do well in these papers. Some papers involve close and critical engagement with the scriptures of one of more of the world’s faith traditions; others use the social sciences (e.g. sociology or psychology) to study religious beliefs and practices. There are papers in church history ranging from the 1st to the 21st centuries, and others that train students to think philosophically and theologically in ‘conversation’ with classic texts, again from several world faith traditions. Students can choose papers from a menu of choices, and some opt to construct their degree over three years by specialising for example in religious studies, or Judaism, or Christian theology, or history.

This unusual range of courses prepares graduates for a similarly wide range of careers.

You can find out more about the Course Content and Open Days on the Faculty of Divinity website.

Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion at Trinity Hall

Trinity Hall is situated in easy walking distance of both the University Library and the Faculty of Divinity. It has a long history of valuing this subject, for example in awarding an annual prize for excellent examination results in the subject. Recent Trinity Hall students who have studied Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion have gone on to work in the City, transport planning, in the charity sector, as teachers and lawyers, as well as to postgraduate study in theology, philosophy, religious studies, and international development.

Trinity Hall’s Director of Studies for this course, Stephen Plant, has over fifteen years’ experience in the role in Cambridge. He is an Affiliated Lecturer in the University in Christian theology and ethics and is a recognized international expert in Modern Theology and in theology and international development. You can listen to him on BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’, speaking about the French thinker Simone Weil and the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

How You Learn

In your first year you will be taught in several ways. A first-year student will take a language paper and four other papers. Languages are taught weekly in classes, ‘streamed’ according to previous experience. The other papers are taught by a combination of lectures given by expert lecturers in the Faculty of Divinity and supervisions typically in groups of two or three. A typical paper may have 16 hours of lectures and six hours of supervision.

Supervisions are an important opportunity for students to ask questions, try out new ideas, receive dedicated feedback on their work and begin to develop their thinking skills. This approach to teaching is one of the great strengths of Cambridge University.

Assessment is either by examination at the end of the year or by assessed essays. In the final year a student can also opt to write a dissertation on a topic they have chosen in place of one paper.

Typical Offer Conditions

A-Level:

A*AA

IB

41-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

Other:

See the University’s Entrance Requirements page

Subject Requirements 

Essential:

None

Desirable:
One subject from English, Religious Studies, History or a language

 

Written Work

Two school essays, preferably related to Religious Studies or another humanities subject. For further information on submitting written work, please read our How to Apply page.

Admissions Assessment

None.

General Comments

An A–Level in Religious Studies can be helpful but is certainly not required. A successful applicant will be able to make creative connections between questions explored in many disciplines – the social sciences, physics and biology, music, history, the study of language and literature, etc. – and the study of theology and religion. Students reading for a degree in Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion have a great variety of beliefs and convictions and alongside students thinking critically from within one of the world’s faith traditions there are students approaching their study as atheists and agnostics.

If you are invited to interview for the Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion course at the University of Cambridge, you will usually be interviewed at two Colleges. Interviews typically last 20-25 minutes and you will be asked a range of questions arising from your personal statement, from your submitted work, or from your current studies. We will also want to see how you answer unexpected questions, e.g. by asking you to talk about an unseen quotation or picture. What we are looking for, in addition to proven academic aptitude and potential for development, is deep curiosity about theology and religion. We want you to enjoy the conversation and recognise that a relaxed candidate is likely to leave a truer impression of themselves than one who is tongue–tied with nerves!