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
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Start date September 2020
January 2021

This research degree is also available via distance learning.

Programme overview

The department has a strong and innovative research culture, and includes 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 a strong portfolio of skills and experiences in preparation for an academic career and professional life beyond university.

Fees for 2020/21

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2020/21 are as follows:

UK/EU: full-time
UK/EU: part-time
Overseas: full-time
Channel Islands/Isle of Man: full-time

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2020/21

The University of Bristol is part of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), which will be offering studentships for September 2020. For information on other funding opportunities, 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 on evidence of your readiness to pursue a research degree.

PhD: A master's qualification, or be working towards a master's qualification, or international equivalent. Applicants without a master's qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis, provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree (or international equivalent). Applicants with a non-traditional background may be considered provided they can demonstrate substantial equivalent and relevant experience that has prepared them to undertake their proposed course of study.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile C
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

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. Students also participate in a fortnightly research seminar that brings all staff and students together. 


The majority of graduates from this programme develop careers as academics in secondary and higher education, while maintaining the capacity to undertake new and innovative research in the field of religion and theology.

Staff profiles

Dr Lindsey Askin, (Lecturer in Jewish Studies), scribal culture in Ancient Israel and Second Temple Judaism (520 BCE - 70 CE) Hellenization in ancient Judaism and Greek-Jewish literature; Hebrew Bible and Judaism (6th c. BCE through late antiquity); material and literary culture of daily life and domestic space; material aspects of reading and writing in Judaism and early Christianity (520 BCE - 400 CE); medicine, illness, and healing in ancient Israel, early Judaism, and rabbinic Judaism

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.

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 south-east Asia, particularly Sri Lanka; early Indian Buddhism and its cultural background; interdisciplinary research (relating fieldwork 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 Benedetta Lomi, (Lecturer), East Asian religions; Japanese Buddhism; material and visual culture, with particular emphasis on the preformative, healing and transformative dimensions of Buddhist rituals, scriptures and objects

Professor Carolyn Muessig, (Professor), Catherine of Siena and female educators in the middle ages; history of medieval preaching; medieval religion; monasticism; religious orders; stigmatics and somatic theology

How to apply
Application deadline:

September 2020 start: 2 August 2020
January 2021 start: 2 December 2020

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa 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

  • Theology and Religious Studies:
  • 21% of research is world-leading (4*)
  • 45% of research is internationally excellent (3*)
  • 32% of research is recognised internationally (2*)
  • 2% of research is recognised nationally (1*)

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.

Open days and visits

Find out more about opportunities to visit Bristol.

Register to attend our postgraduate open day, 20 November 2019.

Get in touch

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

Faculty of Arts
University of Bristol
3-5 Woodland Road
Bristol BS8 1TB


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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