About the Department of Religion and Theology

The Department of Religion and Theology provides a friendly and intellectually-stimulating environment to study the place and role of religion in the world, and is among the top departments in the UK in the discipline (ranked 6th in the Complete University Guide 2021).

A lively community

We have a lively and intelligent academic community that provides students regular opportunities and confidence to participate in discussions in lectures, seminars and personal tutorials. As a student here, you will be encouraged to think critically and analytically about various belief systems and practices and to consider why individuals respond to religion in the way they do.

Our teaching and research

We are known for the quality of our teaching, which spans the Judeo-Christian and Buddhist traditions and is balanced by a thorough understanding of Christianity, Chinese and Japanese religions, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. The methods we adopt to analyse our subject include anthropology, history, philosophy and psychoanalysis; while the languages of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chinese, Sanskrit and Pali are also important components of our study. Three of our teachers - Carolyn Muessig (now University of Calgary), George Ferzoco, and Gavin D'Costa - have won University awards for their teaching. We have an active programme of conferences, lectures, reading groups, weekly symposiums and seminars, and fortnightly departmental seminars. We also support the work of the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education through Access2Bristol and hosting school visits.

New Lecturer in Medieval Christianity appointment (September 2020)‌

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Dr. Edward Sutcliffe joins us from the British School at Rome, where he held a fellowship during the last academic year with a research project investigating the presentation of health and illness in thirteenth-century Italian sermons. His work concerns the intersection of medieval medicine and religion, with a focus on sermons, liturgy, exegesis, hagiography, and the reception of eastern medical learning in the medieval west. His first monograph, concerning the role of leprosy in the early Francisacn movement, is forthcoming.
 
After studying for a BA in Theology at the University of Oxford, Edward first moved to Bristol to undertake an MA in Religion. Remaining in the department of Religion and Theology, he won a full doctoral scholarship from the AHRC and completed his thesis in 2017 under the supervision of Professor Carolyn Muessig. He has previously taught across several departments in the School of Humanities, in a range of fields including the premodern history and theology of the Church, theories of religion, medieval European history and culture, and medieval Latin. He is returning to Bristol as Lecturer in Medieval Christianity.‌‌

Regular conferences and fieldwork opportunities

At postgraduate and undergraduate levels, we jointly host the largest annual conference dealing with Religion and Theology in collaboration with Bath Spa University, University of Exeter, University of Gloucestershire, Trinity College Bristol, Wesley College Bristol and others. We also encourage and help postgraduates to organise their own events.

And study is not simply confined to round-table discussions. Our undergraduate courses also feature a third-year fieldwork unit, giving students the chance to investigate the history and importance of some of the many places of worship that make Bristol the ideal city in which to learn about religion and theology – such as the Bristol Hindu Temple, Bristol Cathedral, St Mary Redcliffe Church and St Paul’s Church, which now houses Circomedia, a centre for contemporary circus.

How we are structured

The Department of Religion and Theology is one of five departments within the School of Humanities, which itself forms part of the University's Faculty of Arts.

A distinctive research profile

Find out more about the research we are undertaking in the Department of Religion and Theology.

Experts on film

Professor Gavin D'Costa talks about his personal experiences of other faiths and explains the Catholic Church's teaching on inter-religious dialogue.

Watch more videos about the Department »

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