School of Divinity

MA Religious Studies & English/Scottish Literature

At the School of Divinity, the study of Religious Studies proceeds from a non-confessional perspective, based on the principle that religions influence most human endeavours for good or ill.

Students on this programme develop an understanding of the main phenomena of religion, such as belief systems, rituals, mythology, iconography and ethics through a variety of methodologies as well as an understanding of the main genres and interpretive practices of English or Scottish Literature.

This programme is delivered together with the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

Why study this programme

The School of Divinity provides one of the most comprehensive and flexible undergraduate programmes in Religious Studies in the UK.

You will not only acquire a profound knowledge of your subject, but you will also gain a good understanding of research methodologies and develop a range of skills to prepare you for a wide variety of employment opportunities and for continued life-long learning.

More reasons to choose our programme

  • You will discover the links between religious questions and the production of Literature
  • You will have the opportunity to study a wide range of religious traditions: Asian traditions, Christianity, indigenous religions, Islam, Judaism, New Age
  • You can enhance your knowledge of specific religious traditions by taking language courses
  • Our programme focuses on religion in the contemporary world
  • You will study with internationally renowned academics who produce world-leading research on their subjects
  • Small seminar groups allow for student-centred learning

Degree structure and courses

Throughout your time on this programme, half of your time will be dedicated to the study of Religious Studies and the other half to English or Scottish Literature.

In your first two years of study (pre-honours level) you will be introduced to a range of religious traditions and methods. You can choose to start specialising in Asian traditions, Christianity or Islam and from the start. You will also acquire a good grounding in English or Scottish literary traditions.

In years three and four (Honours level), you will be expected to choose from a wide range of course choices across your two subjects. At this level, learning activities include field visits and guided research projects. You will benefit from small seminar groups that allow for student-centred learning.

Aims and outcomes

The MA in Religious Studies and English or Scottish Literature has six main goals:

  • To develop knowledge and understanding of the histories, practices and cultural expressions of religious traditions and literary traditions
  • To develop skills in collecting, analysing and interpreting a wide range of sources including field studies, written texts, oral traditions and testimonies of adherents
  • To develop the ability to evaluate and critique work from a range of methods appropriate to Religious Studies and English or Scottish Literature, and also from adjacent disciplines such as Anthropology, Sociology, Philosophy
  • To develop the ability to formulate research questions and develop arguments which represent different attitudes and positions fairly
  • To develop the ability to engage with views different from their own and to express ideas and arguments clearly, both orally, in writing and using electronic media
  • To develop the ability to prepare written texts for a range of audiences – peer, semi-formal, academic, popular; skills in working with others, with a range of backgrounds and knowledge

Teaching and assessment

Years 1 and 2 (Pre-honours): Your courses will mostly be organised as a series of larger group lectures and small tutorial groups.

Years 3 and 4 (Honours): In addition to lectures and tutorials, you will learn through seminars led by specialist staff, and through a variety of other student-led activities such as presentations, field work and guided research projects.

Courses can be assessed by a diverse range of methods such as exams, essays, presentations, short tutorial exercises or in-class participation, providing on-going feedback as well as summative assessment which is submitted for credit.


Graduates in Religious Studies and English or Scottish Literature will develop skills suitable for a wide range of careers including the voluntary sector, Civil Service, finance, management, law, counselling, banking, ministry and human resources. This programme can also serve as the basis for further study at the postgraduate level.