PGDip in Theology and Religion | University of Oxford
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PGDip in Theology and Religion

About the course

The Postgraduate Diploma in Theology and Religion is provided as an alternative qualification for those wishing to pursue graduate study in theology and religions but whose first degree is not in theology or religious studies. 

The Postgraduate Diploma in Theology and Religion offers an intensive period of study in Christian theology, with the option to explore other world religions. You may complete the course either in nine months as a full-time student or in twenty-one months as a part-time student.

You choose three papers which are typically taught through a series of eight tutorials supported by lectures and classes; a fourth paper can be chosen if you wish to extend your studies. These papers are chosen from the syllabus for the faculty's BA in Theology and Religion, although some papers are excluded from this selection. For example, you might choose to study an aspect of the New Testament, Old Testament, the nature of religion or modern doctrine, and other options include:

  • the history of Christianity
  • Christian ethics
  • Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism
  • the philosophy of religion.

If studying part-time, you will study two papers in your first year of study, and the third (and fourth, if this option is chosen) in your second year of study. Whether you are a full-time or part-time student you are assessed at the end of the course. You may either sit timed written examinations or choose to write two short essays or one long essay in place of a written examination in one of your chosen papers. The essay subjects will be approved by the faculty and your tutor for that paper.

Please note that a new curriculum is being introduced in 2017-18 and that while applications for entry onto the part-time course in 2017-18 are permitted, part-time students entering in 2017-18 should be aware that the list of papers available to them will be revised towards the end of their first year and that other papers will be made available for their second year. 

The course is mainly taught by tutorials, for which you customarily prepare written work for discussion with the tutor. In addition, you attend relevant classes and lectures as advertised for the BA in Theology and Religion, and a series of seminars, normally twice per term, specifically organised for Postgraduate Diploma students. Teaching usually takes place up to week four of Trinity term.

Although as a Postgraduate Diploma in Theology and Religion student you attend undergraduate lectures and classes, you are full members of the graduate community, and are encouraged to draw on all the graduate resources of the faculty and the university. Please note that there is no graduation ceremony for the PGDip.

Graduate destinations


Students who leave the University of Oxford with graduate qualifications in theology enter a variety of careers all around the world. Students who complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Theology and Religion often progress to further academic study within the faculty or in other universities. Others secure employment as, for example, school teachers, civil servants, lawyers, clergy or parliamentary research assistants.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a degree which is not in theology, religious studies or a related subject. No knowledge of ancient languages is required. Entrance is very competitive.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

You may require knowledge of a particular language and you are advised to research your subject area for more information on individual requirements.  

Other examination results may be submitted alongside degree qualifications. If offered, the minimum Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score sought is 160 and the minimum GMAT score sought is 600.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.  


Publications are not required.  

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Voluntary work experience in areas of theology and/or religions may be an advantage, if it demonstrates that you have transferable skills which may be of use during your studies.  

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Faculty of Theology and Religion to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Faculty of Theology and Religion and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Theology and Religion.

Teaching is organised by your Director of Studies, appointed by the faculty, who may or may not be based in your college or Permanent Private Hall.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

If you plan to progress to one of the master's courses offered by the Faculty of Theology and Religion you would normally be expected to take at least one paper in the subject area in which you would like to specialise. For example, if you intend to apply for a master's (MPhil or MSt) in Theology: New Testament you should have taken at least one New Testament paper in the Postgraduate Diploma in Theology. Your Director of Studies would guide you in your choice of papers.


The Faculty of Theology and Religion is based in the Gibson Building, which is situated in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter on the Woodstock Road. Facilities there include teaching, seminar and lecture rooms, a graduate common room and graduate workspace and faculty administration.  The Philosophy and Theology Faculties Library (PTFL) is located near by on the ground floor of the Radcliffe Humanities building.


Oxford has a wide and rich range of library resources for theology and religion graduates. You will not only have access to the resources of your college and faculty, but also the Bodleian Libraries. This has been a legal deposit for 400 years, which means it can claim a copy of any book or journal published in the UK or Ireland.

The Philosophy and Theology Faculties Library (PTFL) is located in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter on the same site as the Gibson Building. The PTFL is a lending library primarily for staff and students of the two faculties, in support of research, teaching and learning. It has a collection of c. 30,000 books for loan on open access, with a further 20,000 available by request from remote store. It is also a delivery location for books from the Bodleian stacks for reference use in the library. Many books are now also available in electronic format; some are downloadable for 24-hour loan.


The Oxford University Language Centre (OULC) at 12 Woodstock Road offers excellent facilities and free courses to members of the University who wish to learn or improve a foreign language relevant to their academic work – or indeed for their general interest and education. Courses are offered in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Georgian, German, Modern Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Welsh, and English as a Foreign Language (EFL). Most courses consist of two single fifty-minute classes each week or one double class. 

Courses begin in October and continue throughout the academic year. If a course is required for study or research, there is a priority enrolment scheme.


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

The Ertegun Scholarship Programme and the Humanities Research Council (AHRC) each provide a number of awards every year, to support graduate students across a range of disciplines. To be considered for these studentships you must apply by the relevant January admissions deadline.


Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Full-time study

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

(including Islands)

Part-time study

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

(including Islands)

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

Full-time study

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Part-time study

Please note that this course requires that you attend in Oxford for teaching, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page. If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.


The following colleges accept students for full-time study on the PGDip in Theology and Religion:

The following colleges accept students for part-time study on the PGDip in Theology:

How to apply

You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply.  

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.


A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
One page

You should provide a statement of purpose, written in English, explaining your motivation and suitability for graduate study at Oxford. This statement should focus mainly on your academic commitment to and academic suitability for the course and why you are applying to this course in particular.

This will be assessed for your commitment to the study of theology and religion. The statement may also include details of particular areas of academic interest, your possible future research plans, career aspirations, and what you hope to do with this Oxford qualification.

Your statement should focus on academic endeavour rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Written work:
Two essays of 2,000 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer pieces are accepted if prefaced by a note which puts them in context.

Written work need not relate closely to the proposed area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for an appropriate intellectual standard, conceptual sophistication, analytical and critical skill, and the ability to sustain a cogent argument.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, generally academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

References should generally be academic. Professional references are acceptable but limited in what they can demonstrate about academic ability; you should submit no more than one such reference.

Your references will support your academic ability, your relevant background knowledge and language skills, and overall suitability for your chosen course.