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Within the History of Christianity subject area there is particular research strength in patristics and early Christian history; the Reformation in Britain and on the continent; puritanism; the history of British and European Christianity from the 18th century; and the history of Christian missions, especially in Africa, from the 18th century.
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The School of Divinity has consistently scored exceptionally highly in the Research Assessment Exercise, the most recent assessment putting us among the best schools in theology, philosophical theology and religious studies in the UK.
Our researchers currently boast the highest percentage of 4* scores (world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour) of any Scottish university in theology and religious studies.
We have the largest number of divinity research-active staff in Scotland, and the third-largest in the UK. Overall, the RAE ranked us third in the UK with 85 per cent of our research activity judged internationally excellent or world-leading.
Our community comprises 450 students (undergraduate and postgraduate) and nearly 30 full-time academic staff, including internationally respected scholars in a wide range of specialisms.
We welcome students from around the world, from religious and non-religious backgrounds, taking pride in our status as a renowned research centre in a broad spectrum of subject areas.
The large graduate school and the presence of visiting academics from around the world help ensure a diverse and stimulating research environment.
All research students are assigned a primary and secondary supervisor. You are offered a training course in research methods, and are given conscientious supervision from your first weeks through to submission of your thesis. There are also special orientation events for international students.
Within Ecclesiastical History, there is a research seminar for staff and students to which visiting speakers are invited. Informal reading groups and language classes in Latin are also offered.
As a postgraduate researcher you can draw on the outstanding library resources of New College, the University of Edinburgh and the nearby National Library of Scotland.
New College Library has one of the largest theology collections in the UK, with more than a quarter of a million items and a large and rich manuscript collection, including the papers of Thomas Chalmers, John Baillie, JH Oldham and James S Stewart.
The strengths of the Library collections contribute greatly to the teaching and research of members of the School as well as students elsewhere in the University. These collections are complemented by the many resources available in the University and beyond. The total holdings in all the University libraries exceed 2.25 million volumes. In addition, the National Library of Scotland holds more than five million volumes. The New College Library boasts a magnificent reading hall, originally built as the sanctuary of the Free High Kirk.
We offer two types of research-based masters degree, as well as PhD programmes.
These one-year masters degrees by research are designed for students with an academic training in divinity or religious studies (or other relevant subjects) who wish to focus on a particular topic. The programme may be taken as either a Master of Theology by Research or a Master of Science by Research. The difference is one of nomenclature only.
Both involve research training and orientation courses, after which you may either research and submit a dissertation of about 30,000 words, which comprises the remaining assessment for the degree, or take three further courses to provide appropriate background and preparatory study for the topic of your research, and then submit a dissertation of about 15,000 words.
The MPhil requires a minimum of two years’ full-time study. You will be provided with two supervisors. During the first year you will explore your chosen area of research and refine your proposal. After nine to 12 months a draft of a chapter or a part-chapter will be submitted for discussion at a Review Board, together with a developed proposal for the whole thesis (of no more than 50,000 words).
On the basis of progress-to-date, and the prospects for the research, the Review Board will make a recommendation on the continuation of studies, for which your programme may be confirmed as MPhil status or, exceptionally, promoted to PhD status.
Research towards a PhD requires a minimum of three years’ full-time work under the guidance of two supervisors. For PhD study we look for a proven ability to sustain independent research under supervision, normally in the form of a masters degree involving a dissertation. Since in the British model of doctoral studies there is little formal coursework, and the time available is limited to four years, we look for a substantial degree of preparation in any necessary adjunct skills, including languages. Competence in academic writing in English is also essential.
Progress during the first year is assessed by an end-of-year Review Board at which a full, formal research proposal must be presented, along with a sample of work. The Board will make a recommendation based on its reading of your submission and an interview. You then proceed with your research, culminating in your 100,000-word dissertation.
This article was published on Apr 22, 2014