Religion and Theology

Our expert academics will help you to understand how religion shapes the world, as you explore major themes of philosophy, ethics, mysticism and power across various religions.

Follow your passions

You have the flexibility to specialise or study broadly across many areas. You can study Sanskrit, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Japanese or Chinese.

Global connections

You can spend a semester studying at one of our world-renowned partner institutions in Asia, Australia, Canada, the US or Europe – or spend a year overseas on the MArts course.

Real-world relevance

In your final-year you can carry out fieldwork or a community placement, giving you the chance to research living or past religious communities either locally or further afield.

Religion and Theology at Bristol

We believe that the place of religion in the world can be best understood by examining it from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Our approach includes historical, philosophical, theological, literary, textual, anthropological, and comparative methodologies.

At Bristol you can study Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Chinese and Japanese religions, and philosophy of religion. A strength of our department is the balanced provision and variety of expertise across both eastern and western religious traditions.

I am so grateful for the amazing time I have had. The Theology Department has contributed significantly to my experience – they offered me a little family to be a part of! The teaching and support were the best I possibly could have asked for.

Sophie, BA Theology and Sociology

Career prospects

A cathedral on a sunny day with flowers in the foreground.

The breadth of our degrees will give you skills in writing, oral presentation and independent research, and you will benefit from training in the critical and analytical skills common to humanities degrees. Employers place great value on the transferable skills that our graduates offer, including the ability to think creatively, write fluently and appreciate ideas and opinions.

Our graduates are equipped to pursue a variety of careers, including many not directly related to religion. Our students go on to work in fields as diverse as journalism, law, publishing, teaching, alternative technologies, communication, arts and entertainment, while some continue to postgraduate study.

What our students do after graduating

Course structure

A large statue of the Buddha, with people in the distance walking up a long flight of stairs towards it.

In the first year, you will consider important questions in the academic investigation of religion. Mandatory units introduce major world religions and the various academic disciplines involved in their study. You can choose optional units in any year, including introductory language modules such as Greek or Sanskrit.

In your second year, mandatory units build on your first-year study of eastern and western religious traditions and disciplinary debates. You will also take optional units, and you have the opportunity to spend a semester studying abroad. For more information visit Global Opportunities.

MArts students will spend their third year studying at one of our partner universities overseas, returning to Bristol for their final year.

In your final year you will take optional units that focus on particular religious traditions and broader themes. You will also write a dissertation on a topic of your choice, with the option of combining this with fieldwork (we provide training workshops in fieldwork skills).

You may choose to combine your religion and theology studies with philosophy or sociology; our joint honours degrees are equally weighted across both subjects.

Sample units may include:

  • Philosophical Approaches to Religious Experience and Mysticism
  • Buddhist Psychology and Mental Health
  • Atheism
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Zen Buddhism
  • Medieval Religion: Christianity and Islam
  • Sex, Marriage and Deviance in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras.

Welcoming community

A group of people wearing differing religious clothing.

Bristol is home to many places of worship. We work with venues across the city such as Bristol Cathedral, the Bristol Hindu Temple, Bristol Jamia Mosque, Park Row Synagogue, St Mary Redcliffe Church and St Paul's Church – home to Circomedia.

Our student-run Religion and Theology society provides a forum for discussion of relevant topics, peer-led academic support and a friendly space to socialise. You can also participate in the activities of the University's faith-based societies and the Multifaith Chaplaincy, where people of all faiths and none mingle and talk.

Religion and Theology

Our religion and theology degrees will enable you to understand and explain the ways in which religion significantly shapes the world. Taught by expert academics, you will explore themes central to cultures, including philosophy, ethics, mysticism and power, across various religions.

Why study Religion and Theology at Bristol?

We believe that the place of religion in the world can be best understood by examining it from a variety of perspectives across disciplines. Our approach uses different methodologies, which include historical, archaeological, linguistic, philosophical, theological and comparative perspectives.

At Bristol you can study Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Chinese and Japanese religions, and philosophy of religion.

You may study religion and theology as a single honours subject or in a joint honours degree with sociology or philosophy. Our single honours degree provides the opportunity in year two to spend half a year studying abroad at a partner university. We also offer MArts Religion and Theology with Study Abroad, which incorporates one year overseas.

The department is friendly and provides opportunities to interact closely with staff and students in the discussion of religion and theology. You will also have your own personal tutor with whom you can discuss academic issues.

What kind of student would this course suit?

If you appreciate the challenge of engaging with religion's place in the world through a variety of approaches and focusing on one or more religious traditions, you will enjoy this subject.

You should possess a strong commitment to the importance of the subject and a willingness to pursue it seriously and critically, either collaboratively with other students or through independent research and study. Most of all, you will be proud to study a subject that is completely integrated, explicitly or culturally, in almost every aspect of life today.

How is this course taught and assessed?

Teaching will take a variety of forms, including lectures, small-group tutorials, student-led seminars, one-to-one meetings with tutors, excursions and optional language classes. We also make extensive use of audio-visual equipment and internet facilities.

Assessment is varied and includes traditional essays, book reviews, short tests, oral presentations, teamwork and formal exams.

In your final year you will produce a dissertation on a research topic of interest to you, with supervision by a member of staff.

What are my career prospects?

The breadth of our degrees will give you skills in writing, oral presentation and independent research, and you will benefit from training in the critical and analytical skills common to humanities degrees.

Our graduates are equipped to pursue a variety of careers, including many not directly related to religion. Students go on to work in fields as diverse as law, teaching, alternative technologies, communication, arts and entertainment, while a significant number continue to postgraduate study. Employers place great value on the transferable skills that our graduates offer, including the ability to think critically, write fluently and appreciate ideas and opinions.

Find out more about what our students do after graduating.

Disclaimer

Important disclaimer information about our courses.

Every day my inbox is flooded with opportunities – internships, research projects, extra-curricular activities – all of which are the University getting students involved. The University is constantly updating its facilities, which reinforces its friendly and inclusive environment.

Alexandra (LLB Law)

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