Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion

Director of Studies: The Rev'd Dr Mark Smith

Prospectus entriesCambridge course information and Faculty website

Number of students admitted each year: 2

Course length: 3 years
 

On this page you will find the following information: 

 

Why study Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion at Cambridge?

The study of theology and religion is increasingly important in a world where religious belief is a driving force behind social and political events, and at Cambridge you have the chance to learn and research under world-class theologians and scholars. 

This course allows you the freedom to choose from a range of religious traditions and enables you to pursue multiple interests from a historical, philosophical, theological, sociological or comparative perspective. You can combine an interest in Religion with History, Sociology, Philosophy, Literature, Politics, Psychology or Science. The decision will be yours and you are not bound to follow any particular path at any stage of the degree. Theology at Cambridge allows gradual specialisation during your three years, so that you can tailor your academic pathway according to your developing interests.

Information about the course structure and the papers you can study is on the Faculty of Divinity website, and the Faculty building not only offers an extensive theological library, but also provides a warm and welcoming community of undergraduates, graduates and lecturers - and free coffee!
 

Why study Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion at Christ's?

You may have read Why choose Christ's? for some of the general advantages of living and studying at Christ's College. As a setting for the study of Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion, Christ's has a great history of theological study and engagement. William Paley, a Fellow of Christ's, formulated an influential version of the 'teleological' argument for God's existence, whilst Charles Darwin, one of our most famous alumni, wrestled with the implications of his theory of natural selection for belief in God. In the twentieth century, Charles Raven, a Master of Christ's, had a major impact in the debate over science and religion, and rose to be Regius Professor of Divinity. In recent years, Christ's theologians have included Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as Professor Christopher Rowland (Fellow of Queen's, Oxford), Dr John Day (Professor of Old Testament Studies, Oxford), and the Rev'd Robin Griffith-Jones (Master of the Temple, London).  

Christ's offers the chance to study theology in the footsteps of all those who have gone before, and to engage with the rich theological tradition of the college. You will also be able to explore new and emerging areas of research. As Theology is one of the smaller subjects taught at Cambridge in terms of student numbers, studying at Christ's enables you to get to know your fellow-theologians really well, and means that your Director of Studies here will be able to support you closely in your work. At Christ's, you are centrally located in town, so have quick and easy access to the Divinity Faculty (a short and pretty walk across the river!), and also to other useful facilities such as the University Library.

The Director of Studies in Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion at Christ's is the Rev'd Dr Mark Smith, who is also the Chaplain of the College. He studied the Theology course at Cambridge himself, so knows from the inside its particular shape, character and pressures. His own research is in early church history and doctrine, so in addition to organising your course of study, he will also be able to supervise you for some of the papers. He welcomes enquiries from anyone thinking about studying Theology at Christ's, and can be contacted at: mss53@cam.ac.uk if you have any questions that you'd like to ask.   


Student Profile

Melissa and Clara both study Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion here at Christ's College. They have written about their experiences of studying Theology in their student profiles:

 

How to apply

We welcome applications from all backgrounds and school types. Details and a timeline for the application process can be found on the how to apply page. If you will be applying from outside the UK, we recommend that you also read our dedicated section for international students

Subject advice

The College is keen to encourage students from all kinds of academic background to apply to read Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion. Whilst an A-level, IB Higher or equivalent in Religious Studies is desirable it is not compulsory, and whilst most of our applicants take essay subjects for A-level, IB Higher or equivalent, this is not solely the case. Some linguistic ability is desirable at least at GCSE level, but also not compulsory.

Written work

After your application is received, you will be asked to send us two essays that you feel accurately reflect your abilities and interests. The essays should be work which has been prepared during the normal course of your studies and has already been marked by a teacher. We recommend that you keep copies for your own reference as the essays may be discussed at interview. Full written work guidelines will be provided as part of the current applicants section on this website (published by 20 September each year).

Interviews

Applicants selected for interview in Cambridge are usually interviewed in December: applicants will have three academic interviews. Two of your interviews will be in Christ's and you may be given a short text to read before one of them and discuss in the interview. Your third interview  will take place in a second College (other than Christ’s), since Theology runs a system of a guaranteed additional academic interviews in a College chosen at random by the Faculty's Admissions Officer. The Faculty of Divinity runs this scheme in order to maximize the chances of filling places and to rectify the possible imbalance of applicant numbers to various colleges often experienced by a relatively small subject. Academic interviews may include questions on your written work, they may raise points made on your UCAS personal statement, and they will ask general questions in the area of theology and religious studies. Further, more general information about interviews (including two useful films) is available in the Cambridge interviews section.

We also hold interviews in a number of locations overseas. If this may be relevant for you, please see the international students section

Admissions Assessment

All Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion applicants invited to interview will take a written Admissions Assessment, normally on the same day as their interviews. This gives you an opportunity to demonstrate how you have developed academically since you took your GCSEs. It will be skills-based, looking at your comprehension and writing skills, but will not assume any prior knowledge. It will provide valuable additional evidence of your ability and potential to succeed on the Cambridge Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion course. There's nothing that you need to do to register, as we will automatically organise the Admissions Assessment for you if you are invited for interview. Further information, including example papers and subject content, can be found on the University website.

Offers

Christ's aims to admit around 2 undergraduates in Theology each year (the total number studying for this course across all 29 undergraduate colleges is 39). 

The typical conditional offer is A*AA at A-level, 42 points overall in the International Baccalaureate with 7,7,6 in relevant Higher Level subjects, or the equivalent in other qualifications. If you will have already finished school when you apply, please see the page for post-qualification applications
 

Resources

Introductory reading suggestions Reading suggestions to give you a taste of the different areas you can study in the degree.
50 Religious Treasures of Cambridge Introducing you to a range of artefacts and images from the museums, libraries and colleges of the University of Cambridge.
An Introduction to New Testament Greek Ten units aimed at helping you get off to a flying start with New Testament Greek.
HE+ Religious Studies Enrichment resources to help you to explore the subject beyond your school curriculum
Gresham College lectures on Religion Free online lectures


 

Further Information

If you are able to come to a College Open Day, we will be glad to tell you more about the College and the course in person. There are also Theology events advertised on the Faculty of Divinity website. If you are not able to come to Cambridge yourself, please feel free to email us with any queries you may have. Our email address is admissions@christs.cam.ac.uk.
 

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