Theology and Religion | University of Oxford
Theology and Religion
An image from the Kennicott Bible, f. 325b.
(copyright: Bodleian Libraries)

Theology and Religion

mortar boardUCAS code

V600

calendarDuration3 years (BA)
pencilEntrance requirementsAAAHeadSubject requirements A subject involving essay writing
crossAdmissions test(s)NonetickWritten workOne piece
bar chartAdmissions statistics*

Interviewed: 64%
Successful: 32%
Intake: 32
*3-year average 2016-18

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+44 (0) 1865 270790
Email Theology

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

Theology is an ancient intellectual discipline, with continuing and momentous social significance around the world today. Students gain an understanding of the intellectual underpinning of religious traditions, and of the social and cultural contexts for religious belief and practice. In order to engage fully with the questions raised by the critical study of Theology and Religion, you will have to become something of a historian and a philosopher, a textual and literary critic, and a linguist. The range of disciplines that may be encountered on the course makes study vibrant and challenging and means that our graduates are versatile and equipped with a variety of skills.

Oxford has been at the very heart of religious debate, reform and turmoil in the British Isles for eight centuries and so the faculty here wears a mantle of history not available in many other universities. At the same time Theology and Religion at Oxford is embracing its 21st-century context: students have the opportunity to study five major world religions and their primary languages and can also explore the relationship between religion and science and the place of religious ethics in public life.

On completion of this course you will have gained knowledge and understanding of several religious traditions. You will have thought about what a religion is and how to approach learning about it. You will have studied the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, the development of Christian doctrine in its historical context, and the thought of modern theologians. In doing so you will be required to study a wide variety of texts, which will develop your critical, analytical and comparative skills. You will also acquire competence in at least one of six languages and should find that being able to read sacred texts in their original language is a deeply satisfying experience.

Members of the Faculty of Theology and Religion include more than 100 academics ranging from experts in the ancient languages and literature of the world’s religions to church historians and systematic theologians. The faculty’s reputation and excellent library facilities attract scholars from all over the world.

students socializing students at a lecture
“The Oxford tutorial system is thoroughly enjoyable and engaging because it challenges you to defend and develop your views on a whole range topics and authors. Being able to talk to some of the leading academics in the world really encourages you to reflect on your own thinking and writing. Theology incorporates such a broad range of skills that are transferable to many different situations, from literary-critical to historical-critical to evaluative skills.  The subject gives you great potential for academic and personal development.”
GEMMA
 “The Theology course at Oxford is very diverse; it gives you an opportunity to explore interests from Pauline literature to modern Judaism in society. The Reformation papers that I opted to study allowed me to engage with the subject as if I was an historian or literature student, as well as tackling major theological issues. Theology students here are required to study a biblical language, classical Arabic, Pali or Sanskrit in their first year. Coming to university with little more than a GCSE in German, I was apprehensive about this at first! However, I was guided through the study of New Testament Greek with classes and one-to-one sessions, and although challenging, the benefits of studying texts in their original languages have proved invaluable.”
JANELLE

A typical week

Your weekly timetable will be divided between one or two tutorials and a large part of your week will be spent in independent study to prepare for tutorials. In addition you will attend up to six lectures each week. In the first year this will include three hours of language instruction each week. Some course options in the second and third year are also taught in small classes instead of, or in addition to, tutorials.

Tutorials are usually up to three students and a tutor. Class sizes may vary depending on the options you choose. There would usually be no more than around 10 students though classes for some of the more popular papers may be up to 20 students. Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctorate level. To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure

TERMS 1–3

COURSES

Four papers are taken:

  • Religion and religions
  • Introduction to the study of the Bible
  • The figure of Jesus through the centuries
  • One of the following languages:
    • New Testament Greek
    • Biblical Hebrew
    • Qur'anic Arabic
    • Church Latin
    • Pali
    • Sanskrit

ASSESSMENT

First University examinations: four papers each assessed by a written examination

TERMS 4–9

COURSES

Choice of seven papers across four subject areas, from which students select freely:

  • Biblical studies
  • Systematic theology and ethics
  • History of religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism)
  • Religion and religions (Contemporary Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Hinduism)

All students must also prepare a 12,000-word thesis on a topic of their choice

ASSESSMENT

Final University examinations: seven papers (assessed either by written examination or by submitted coursework, depending upon the option), plus a compulsory thesis

The options listed above are illustrative and may change. More information about current options is available on the Theology and Religion website.

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements

A-levels: AAA
Advanced Highers:AA/AAB
IB:38 (including core points) with 666 at HL
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications)                                                           

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

 Helpful:A subject involving essay writing to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent can be helpful to students in completing this course, although this is not required for admission.

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Applying

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Admissions test

You do not need to take a written test as part of an application for this course.

Written work

Description:One piece which has been marked in the normal process of school or college work. In place of this essay you may send an examination or test answer to an unseen question, which has been supervised and marked by your school or college. All written work must be in English. Please send work in Religious Studies if you are studying this subject to A-level (or equivalent). If you cannot submit a sample of work in Religious Studies, please submit work in a related area, for example work on any Humanities subject, such as History or English. If you do not  have such written work available, please contact the Tutor for Admissions at your first choice or allocated college, and they will suggest essay topics or alternative work. Please ensure that work is not overly long (no more than 2,000 words) and conforms as far as possible to the published guidelines on the submission of written work, as tutors want to evaluate the succinctness and pertinence of your work.
Submission deadline:  10 November 2019

If you have any questions, please contact your first choice or allocated college, or email the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Outreach, Dr Mary Marshall, at dus@theology.ox.ac.uk. For general guidance, see our further guidance on the submission of written work.

What are tutors looking for?

Tutors consider your whole application very carefully. They look for evidence of a consistently excellent academic record, for example in GCSE or other examination results. Your submitted piece of work should demonstrate your ability to construct an argument and to communicate your ideas in clear written English. Your personal statement should focus on your academic reasons for wishing to study Theology and Religion; references should comment primarily on academic performance.

In interviews, tutors will look for your ability to think clearly, form sound arguments and to listen and respond to counterarguments; your openness to learning; evidence of your enthusiasm and motivation for the course; and your oral communication skills. For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Theology website.

Careers

While some Theology and Religion graduates go on to further academic study, others have pursued a wide variety of careers, including education, government and the public sector, commerce, finance, charitable organisations and religious ministry. See theology.ox.ac.uk for more information about careers.

Rob says of his work as a manager in Accenture: ‘People are always surprised when I tell them what my degree was! However, it really helped shape my analytical skills through the tutorial system. The breadth of subject matter in Theology prepared me for the different subjects I encounter each day as a management consultant.’

Chris Bryant MP says: ‘The intellectual discipline of theology, its focus on the big philosophical and existential issues of humanity and its insight into people from different cultures, perspectives, religions and political beliefs has been immensely useful throughout my working life.’

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Latest information for UK undergraduates who will begin their course in 2020 can be found here. Arrangements for EU students starting in 2020 have not yet been confirmed. Read the latest information.

The fees and funding information below relates to those who will start at Oxford in 2019.

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2019.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£26,235

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2019 are estimated to be between £1,058 and £1,643 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2019 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Theology and Religion

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose