Religion and Theology

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Run by Faculty of Arts
Awards available PhD , MPhil
Programme length MPhil: one year full-time;
two years part-time
PhD: three years full-time;
six years part-time
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students Yes
Number of places Not fixed
Start date January 2016 (2015/16 fees apply)
September 2016
January 2017

Programme overview

The department has a strong and innovative research culture, with leading researchers in the thought and practice of Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism. We use a wide range of linguistic, historical, philosophical and theological methods, and provide many opportunities for postgraduates to build up a strong portfolio of skills and experiences in preparation for an academic career and professional life beyond university.

Fees for 2016/17

Full time fees


Part time fees


Fees quoted are provisional, per annum and subject to annual increase.

Funding for 2016/17

The University of Bristol is part of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP). The partnership is a collaboration of eight leading research universities and partners from the creative economy, working together to develop the arts and humanities researchers for the future. The SWW DTP will be offering studentships for September 2016. For further information on funding opportunities available at the University of Bristol, please see the Faculty of Arts funding pages.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

MPhil: An upper second-class degree (or international equivalent). Please note, acceptance will also depend upon evidence of your readiness to pursue a research degree.
MPhil/PhD: A pass at Masters level (or international equivalent)

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile C
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Research groups

We host the Centre for Buddhist Studies and the Centre for Christianity and Culture, and often collaborate with the inter-departmental Centre for Medieval Studies.


The majority of graduates from this programme develop careers as academics in higher education while maintaining the capacity to undertake new and innovative research in the field of Religion and Theology at the same time.

Staff profiles

Dr Jon Balserak, (Senior Lecturer), Biblical exegesis; John Calvin; Peter Martyr Vermigli; Reformation; Renaissance Humanism; special interest in Denis the Carthusian; theology and history of the Middle Ages.

Dr Jonathan Campbell, (Senior Lecturer), Deuteronomy and its reception; origins of the Jewish biblical canon; Second Temple Judaism and the Dead Sea Scrolls; use of holy writ in anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Professor Gavin D'Costa, (Professor), Doctrine of the Trinity; modern Roman Catholic thought; systematic theology; theology of Jewish-Christian relations; theology of religions and interfaith dialogue.

Professor Rupert Gethin, (Professor), Buddhist psychology and mindfulness; development of Buddhist theories of meditation; early Buddhism; systematic Buddhist thought in the Abhidharma; the Pali commentaries; Theravada Buddhism.

Dr Rita Langer, (Senior Lecturer), Buddhist rituals in South and Southeast Asia, particularly Sri Lanka; Early Indian Buddhism and its cultural background; interdisciplinary research (relating fieldword and textual studies).

Dr David Leech, (Lecturer), Modern philosophical atheism; naturalistic explanations of religious belief and behaviour; philosophy as a way of life; religious agnosticism and critiques of naturalism; the philosophy of religion.

Dr John Lyons, (Reader), Biblical interpretation; biblical theology; Hebrew Bible; history of exegesis; the Dead Sea Scrolls; the New Testament.

Professor Carolyn Muessig, (Professor), 13th-century preaching and its relation to female piety; Catherine of Siena; heresies; Jacques de Vitry; medieval religion; monastic theology; stigmata and deification.

How to apply
Application deadline:

September 2016 start: 1 August 2016
January 2017 start: 1 December 2016

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • 21% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 45% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 32% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 2% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Get in touch

Postgraduate Admissions Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 8458 Email:

Faculty of Arts
University of Bristol
7 Woodland Road
Bristol BS8 1TB


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