School of Divinity

MA Philosophy and Theology

The subject areas of Philosophy and Theology overlap in many significant ways, both with regard to philosophers who have asked questions of the nature of existence and agency, and to theologians who have written Theology with a firm eye on the development of the various philosophical traditions.


The MA Philosophy and Theology provides an opportunity for the analytic study of the metaphysical, ethical and theological traditions that have shaped contemporary thinking. Students work with international scholars to acquire knowledge of chosen areas of interest, and develop research-associated methods and skills.

The programme is delivered together with the School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences

Why study this programme

This wide ranging programme will allow you to address questions about such diverse areas as morality, rationality, language, ethics, doctrine, time, self, agency, and will

Edinburgh has a distinguished place in the history of Philosophy and Theology, having been home to David Hume and Adam Smith. Philosophy and Theology have been taught at the University since its foundation in 1583

You will be able to access a vast range of courses both in Philosophy, Theology and beyond

Our four-year programmes offer students a uniquely stimulating and flexible learning experience. Students have the opportunity to explore their interests by taking a wide variety of courses and acquire valuable skills and experiences, such as international study. A four-year degree allows you to develop the broad education that employers value

This programme is ideally suited for a variety of career aspirations, and can also serve as the basis for further study at the postgraduate level

Degree structure and courses

First Year

During your first year you will take three core Philosophy courses - Greats, Logic, and Morality Rationality and Value - and two courses in Theology. You will also take an outside course in another subject. You can choose an outside course in a subject that complements your two degree subjects, choose to study a language, or simply pick something that interests you.

Second Year

During your second year you take two further core Philosophy courses - Mind Matter and Language, and Knowledge and Reality - plus two second year Theology courses and two further courses (these could be continuation of your first year outside courses, or other courses that interest you).

Third and Fourth Years

Because you have taken the year one and two courses for two different subjects, you normally have a choice for your final two years: you can change to the Single Honours degree in either of your subjects, or continue to study both subjects on the Joint Honours degree.

If you continue to study both subjects, you will choose courses in both. Most students take half of their courses in each subject: five courses in Philosophy and five courses in Theology (Biblical Studies, History of Christianity, Religious Studies or Theology and Ethics) over the two years. You will write a final-year dissertation in either Philosophy or Theology.

Aims and outcomes

The MA Philosophy and Theology programme at the School of Divinity offers a range of options for exploring the overlapping worlds of Philosophy and Theology. The programme can serve as an intensive basis for the study of philosophical and/or theological matters at postgraduate level.

The main programme aims are:

  • To offer study in the traditional disciplines of Philosophy and Theology including metaphysics, ontology and ethics, from introductory through advanced levels
  • To allow students to tackle Philosophy and Theology in an integrative manner
  • To provide students with opportunities to reflect on the nature of thinking
  • To develop students’ experience and abilities in researching, comprehension, analysis, critical thinking, self-presentation and communication
  • To permit students to study additional subjects outside Philosophy and Theology as a part of their degree programme

Studying Philosophy and Theology at the School of Divinity will allow you to acquire and develop a wide range of skills.

  • Advanced knowledge and understanding in chosen areas of philosophical and theological traditions
  • Acquaintance with a range of approaches to the study of Philosophy and Theology, and critical engagement with, and evaluation of, texts, issues, and arguments
  • Ability to formulate research questions and develop arguments which represent different positions and attitudes fairly
  • Ability to engage with the views of others and to articulate ideas and arguments clearly both orally and in writing
  • Develop a range of soft skills including: communication, interpersonal, organisational and critical thinking skills

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 of Philosophy and Theology 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.