Postgraduate study

World Christianity

Awards: PhD, MPhil, MTh by Research, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: World Christianity

Staff associated with the Centre for World Christianity cover a number of different academic disciplines, including theology, history, mission studies, religious studies and anthropology.

They also have geographical expertise in Africa, Asia and Latin America, allowing for a wide range of research possibilities. The Centre provides a weekly seminar programme for PhD students in World Christianity.

The School of Divinity is home to a thriving research community. All of our academic staff are engaged in individual research and writing projects and many are also involved in collaborative projects with colleagues across the globe.

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 60 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.

We take a personal interest in our students and offer a welcoming and friendly setting in which to pursue the exciting and demanding study of theology and religious studies.

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.

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.

The School provides extensive and well-equipped computing facilities for coursework and research at all levels, including dissertations. We provide all students with access to PCs, scanners and printers, across four labs.

We offer two types of research-based masters degree, as well as PhD programmes.

Masters by Research (MSc by Research / MTh by Research)

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.

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

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.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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.

To study at postgraduate level you should have a first degree in an appropriate subject or relevant qualifications and experience.

School of Divinity PhD applicants typically require a specialist postgraduate degree beyond their first degree.

Confirm with the School to find out whether there are specific entry requirements for this programme.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)

If you completed a CAE or CPE before January 2015 please contact the Admissions Office for the accepted grades.

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • School of Divinity
  • New College
  • Mound Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LX

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Divinity
  • New College
  • Mound Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LX