School of Divinity

MA Theology

The MA Theology offers study of the Christian religious tradition, with opportunity to concentrate in specific subject areas, including Biblical Studies, Theology and Ethics, the history of Christianity in a global context, and Religious Studies.

Why study this programme

You would be joining one of the largest and highest ranked departments of Theology and Religious Studies in the UK.

You will study with internationally renowned academics who produce world-leading research on their subjects.

New College features a world class theological library. You will also have access to the University of Edinburgh’s Main Library and the National Library of Scotland.

Edinburgh has a fascinating ecclesiastical/theological history, and is a cosmopolitan, diverse and exciting setting for theological study.

Degree structure and courses

The MA Theology offers academic study of the Christian religious tradition, with the opportunity to concentrate in specific subject areas.

Students usually focus their studies in two specific subject areas, from the following:

Biblical Studies

This area considers the history, literary context and interpretation of the Bible and the intellectual context in which particular methods of biblical scholarship arose.

Courses in this subject area offer the opportunity to study the original languages of the Bible, from introductory to advanced level. In-depth study of the books of the Bible in their historical context lies at the heart of the discipline.

History of Christianity

History of Christianity courses reference theological and philosophical debates influencing and arising from historical events. They provide the foundations for understanding the past, present and future of Christianity as a lived religion

History of Christianity in a global context

This area is concerned with the complex historical trajectories and socio-cultural processes which have led to the current reality of Christianity as a world religion

Religious Studies

Religious Studies involves the application of various academic disciplines, such as languages, literary studies, philosophy, history, anthropology, ethics, sociology and theology, to analyse religion as a human and lived activity influencing and being influenced by most other human endeavours. Questions about the nature of religion for those who study religion and for those who practice it are explored along with the many phenomena and practices of religion, such as beliefs, myths, rituals, ethics and practices

Theology and Ethics

Courses in Theology and Ethics focus on the field of Christian Theology in its widest sense. They include systematic theology (the ordered study of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the bible, humanity, church, salvation and end times), Christian ethics (such as war and peace, medical ethics, and how these relate to secular ethics), practical theology (eg. sacraments), public theology (eg. the media, violence and peacebuilding), and interdisciplinary approaches such as through science, literature, food and film. There are also courses in Christianity and Islam.

In the first two years of the MA Theology, students may choose a third of their first and second year courses from any part of the University, to broaden their education and explore their interests.

Aims and outcomes

Students will be able to describe, analyse and critique a wide range of theological disciplines, beliefs and practices in a creative and constructive fashion. The MA Theology has six main goals:

  • To offer study in all the traditional subjects that comprise academic study of the Christian tradition, from introductory through advanced levels
  • To develop advanced expertise in knowledge and abilities in disciplines within the study of the Christian tradition
  • To acquaint you with the approaches, questions, methods, tools, and results of advanced academic studies in these subjects
  • To allow the study of additional subjects outside of Theology for the first two years
  • To help develop your experience and abilities in comprehension, analysis, reflection, critical thinking, oral and written communication
  • To equip you for a variety of careers, further academic study, and life-long learning

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.


This degree provides excellent foundations for a wide range of careers.

Studying and understanding Theology is vital to understanding human societies past and present, and provides students with valuable knowledge and a broad range of skills that prepares them for a variety of careers such as broadcaster, diplomat, banker, journalist, police officer, social worker, management consultant, lawyer, minister, teacher, recruitment consultant, charity sector worker, financial manager.