Theology and religious studies are concerned with different religions found across the world, and how these religions influence societies and cultures. Religion has a huge impact on society’s day-to-day lives, and major world events, therefore, gaining insight into the role it plays, how it has evolved over time, and the way it intersects with different thought structures and politics, is crucial to understanding the world.
Theology is the study of the concepts of God, and also the nature of religious ideas. Religious studies are the academic field of non-biased study into religions, behaviours and institutions. As a subject, it will cover the most popular religions worldwide, including, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism. The study also includes the religion’s origins, evolution over time, belief system and specific cultures and traditions.
The majority of universities will not require specific subjects as prerequisites. Therefore individuals do not need to worry if they do not have religious studies as an A-level. However, A-levels in religious studies, philosophy, ethics, languages, history or English will help a candidate’s application. Exact grade requirements will vary between institutions, with some asking for AAB and others asking for 200 UCAS tariff points.
Students are advised to check with their chosen universities and degree programmes to ensure they understand what is needed for them to gain admission to the course.
Students can choose a degree in theology – which will focus on Christian teachings – or religious studies – which covers a mixture of different religions – or even study a combination of the two. Theology and religious studies degree programmes cross over in course content, and with other subjects, such as a philosophy and history degree, as these subjects complement each other well when studied together.
Most courses will last for three years and require a high amount of independent research by its students – meaning there won’t be a lot of contact hours with tutors and lecturers. Some courses will be divided into three subject areas, including theology – it’s historical, cultural and philosophical and historical forms – the study of religion, and biblical studies – which may include languages.
During the first year, candidates will gain a strong foundation of knowledge by studying compulsory and core modules. Then, in the second and third year, individuals can choose what areas they study, allowing them to specialise and tailor their degree to their interests. This foundation established during the first year will help students in their studies thereafter.
There will be many degrees available to obtain, mostly as a Bachelors of Arts (BA) degree, including, theology, classical and theological studies, film studies and theology with a foreign language, as well as history, and religious studies.
There is a lot of historical and cultural context surrounding religion, and there may be a lot of information to cover during this degree. Therefore the independent aspect of studying may become intense. Also, students may study technology and science, and its impact on the role of religion collectively.
Through written coursework, examinations, presentations, group debates and class participation.
This type of degree offers all-around training in many key skills: historical, linguistic, philosophical, social scientific and textual. Candidates will develop the ability to read texts closely, analyse them critically, develop intellectual and conceptual clarity, learn about the importance of cultural and historical context, articulate their thoughts with precision and engage with alternative perspectives on the world.
Students who attend university will gain numerous set of transferable skills, such as time-management and organisation, from working on deadlines, and social skills from working with others on group projects and presentations. Students moving away to university will also become more socially people, providing them with a more confident personality.
Individuals do not need to be religious themselves to study for a theology, and religious studies degree, this type of degree will develop understandings of separate religions, faiths and belief systems. It will also feature insight into different behaviour patterns and cultures, history and human interaction.
Religion is a global significance, and this type of degree is best suited to those individuals wishing to study it in a profound and academic setting. It enables students to explore the meaning of religion and to investigate the validity of religious approaches to the historical and cultural context of the world.
Although a degree in this area may aid those seeking to set a career in the ministry, or a voluntary organisation, it will also open up plenty of other careers. Writing and communication skills will make graduates suited for a career in publishing, PR, or even the media. There is also room for graduates within finance and HR roles.
Theology degrees teach prospective candidates transferable and valuable skills, such as research and communication, as well as a more spiritual experience at the university. These experiences and insight into these areas will be highly sought after by employers.
Particular job areas for graduates include; journalism, charity work, lecturing and teaching, archivist, civil service, social work, editorial and publishing, youth work and local and national governance.
There is an extensive range of Masters degrees of Art MA degrees available for students who want to study a postgraduate qualification, such as, applied theology, evangelism, Abrahamic religions, theology and spirituality, and religious pluralism.
Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leader, and most known for his speech titled “I have a dream…” studied theology at Boston University.
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