The Department of Religion and Theology has a thriving and innovative research culture and includes leading researchers in the thought and practice of Buddhism, Christianity, East Asian Religions, Judaism, Islam, Philosophy of Religion, Theology and Ethics.

We are thinking across historical periods and through a variety of critical approaches using ethnographic, linguistic, historical, philosophical, and theological methods. We 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.

We often collaborate with the interdepartmental Centre for Medieval Studies. We invite you to participate in the stimulating intellectual and social life of the department, with fortnightly research seminars and guest lectures that bring all staff and students together.

Programme structure

MPhil: a one-year (full-time) research degree. Students will undertake their own research project, concluding in the submission of a 25,000-word dissertation. Students have the option to audit a wide selection of BA units giving you the opportunity to study subjects you might have missed out at BA level or want to develop if they are relevant to their research.

Students who register on the MPhil may choose to exit with the MPhil after the normal one year period of full-time study (or two years part-time) or submit for upgrade to PhD.

PhD: a research project undertaken across four years (full-time, minimum period of study three years), culminating in an 80,000-word thesis. As well as having the option to audit taught units, there may be the potential for PhD students to teach units themselves from their second year of study onwards.

The MPhil and PhD can be studied via distance learning.

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.

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

Go to admissions statement

If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our profile level C.

Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Fees and funding

UK: full-time
£4,758 per year
UK: part-time
£2,379 per year
Overseas: full-time
£20,700 per year

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.

More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2024/25

The University of Bristol is part of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), which will be offering studentships for September 2024. For information on other funding opportunities, including University-funded studentships, please see the Faculty of Arts funding pages.

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

Career prospects

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.

Meet our supervisors

The following list shows potential supervisors for this programme. Visit their profiles for details of their research and expertise.


Research groups

The department has developed a research agenda based on a rationale of depth and is highly recognised for its distinctive research environment and culture, ranking 15th in the UK for Theology and Religious research (THE analysis of REF 2021).

Staff and postgraduates are also engaged in Faculty of Arts interdisciplinary research themes and centres: Centre for Medieval Studies, Centre for Material Texts, Centre for Health, Humanities and Science)

Equally, individual academics have established distinctive research areas that attract a number of research students. The Department has expertise in the following areas:

  • Global Islam: History and politics of Global Islam and the wider Middle East; confessional relations in Islam; the impact of the Arab Spring on the Gulf States; global history of Sunni-Shii relations as well as cross-cultural relations between Christian, Islamicate and Jewish thought in medieval Europe.
  • Buddhist Material Culture: spanning from religious literary and visual narratives in ancient India, to material and visual culture of medieval Japan and material culture and ritual economy in contemporary Sri Lanka.
  • Medicine and Religion: the analysis of the intersection between medical and religious knowledge and practices in premodern East Asia, as well as illness and healing in ancient Jewish medicine.
  • Medieval and Reformation Thought: the examination of medieval and reformation religious and intellectual culture, with a special emphasis on monasticism, medieval Aristotelianism, and the works of John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation.
  • Philosophy of Religion: philosophical approaches to religious experience; philosophical implications of psychological approaches to the study of religion; religious love/the heart; Platonism (especially, Christian Platonism); atheism/agnosticism.
  • Ritual Studies: the consideration of ritual in eastern and western traditions, with emphasis on Japanese and Sri Lankan religious practices, as well as medieval and early modern Europe.
  • Religion and Textuality: the examination of scribal practices and religious agency in the transmission of scripture in the Hebrew Bible, the Hadith corpus, and Buddhist monastic codes.

The University of Bristol Religion and Theology department is recognised as having a characteristic and outstanding focus on Abrahamic religions and Buddhist Studies. The department has produced exceptional research in both these areas, realising the potential for interdisciplinarity between the two clusters and across the Faculty of Arts.

Contact us


Faculty of Arts Postgraduate Research Admissions

+44 (0) 117 428 2296
Dr Rita Langer
+44 (0) 117 928 8169