School of Divinity

About the programme

The relationship between Science and Religion is one of the foremost intellectual debates of our day. It is impossible not to hold an opinion on it.

The science and religion program [at Edinburgh] is, in my personal view, at present the most creative and vigorous British training ground for new researchers in the science–religion debate.

Professor Christopher Southgate (University of Exeter), in Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science

 

Creation

Our dedicated Masters programme in Science and Religion is highly distinctive in European universities. It aims to inform and engage with the debate in depth, looking at it from scientific, philosophical, historical, ethical and theological perspectives.

As such, it can be approached from a variety of disciplines, and we welcome prospective students with a good first degree in a core science subject (e.g. physics, chemistry, biology) or a core humanities subject (e.g. philosophy, history, religious studies, or theology).

No religious commitments are assumed or expected, rather an enquiring mind open to grappling with critical challenges from all directions. Since the current science-religion debate is strongly shaped by the claims of Christianity, these will be explored in depth as they are relevant, but many other religious (and non-religious) perspectives will feature too.

Core learning

Much of the noisy debate between religion and science has taken place within a poorly-informed view of the history and philosophy of science and its relationship with religion. The programme provides a strong grounding in these issues. The history of science will be studied from ancient times through the modern scientific revolution, together with philosophical trends in our understanding of reality.

In addition, the main core areas of dialogue between science and religion will be explored in depth, including cosmology, evolution, divine action and miracles, consciousness and the human person.

An interdisciplinary approach

The programme’s teachers come from different disciplines: scientists, medics, historians, philosophers, biblical scholars and systematic theologians. Many of the courses are team-taught, although individual teachers also offer specialised options. All students have one-to-one supervision for their Masters dissertation.

The programme allows students to explore a very wide range of areas, if they wish. Equally, it allows students to follow up special interests in depth, perhaps with a view to further study.

Future careers

The programme prepares students for careers where a comprehensive understanding of the cultural impact of science is important, as well as those which require expertise in handling complex and sensitive debates such as those surrounding live religious and philosophical questions. Equally, it provides the necessary basis for a further research degree.

As such, the programme could form a useful stepping-stone for careers in education and research, journalism, innovation policy and management, information technology, knowledge exchange and communication, and civil service, to name just a few. We welcome students from all backgrounds, including those already in employment who wish to combine their work with study in our flexible part-time option.