Ethics and Practical Theology PhD, MPhil
Awards: PhD, MPhil
Study modes: Full-time, Part-time
Programme website: Ethics and Practical Theology
The research interests of academic staff and graduate students in Ethics and Practical Theology encompass a range of theoretical and practical approaches to ethics, religion and theology, including:
- environmental ethics
- peace-building and reconciliation
- ethical theory
- pastoral and practical theology
You can find out more and identify a potential supervisor by looking at the School of Divinity’s Staff Profiles, which give details of research interests and publications, and email addresses.
You are encouraged to contact a potential supervisor to discuss your research project before making a formal application. In the Ethics and Practical Theology research area, projects are often interdisciplinary. If this is the case, you may be jointly supervised with a subject specialist from another School in the University.
At the School of Divinity you will join a community of around 150 research students, drawn from around the world, and from a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds.
You will study in a stimulating environment. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 ranked the School’s research environment at 100% world-leading/internationally excellent, second in the UK on this front in theology and religion. This outstanding result reflects the vibrancy of the School’s research culture.
The ethos of the Graduate School is to promote excellence in postgraduate study, within a stimulating and supportive environment. We value equality and diversity in the School community, and an academic culture that is both critical and constructive.
- At the start of the academic year, you will be invited to Welcome Week, an intensive introduction to study and life in Edinburgh. Some events are especially for international students new to Scotland and the UK, but everything is open to all.
- In the first weeks, the School provides a general orientation to research skills and to wider opportunities for training and support.
- From your first days as a PhD or MPhil student, you will work 1:1 with your primary research supervisor.
- Your progress will be tracked, through regular supervisions and milestone reviews, to ensure that you get the support you need to bring your project to fruition.
- You will be part of the research seminar in Theology and Ethics, to which visiting speakers are invited and to which postgraduates present work-in-progress.
- You can also engage with the work of the * Centre for Theology and Public Issues.
- You will be able to follow taught courses that contribute to your interests and research needs, and can also take advantage of opportunities to learn ancient and modern languages.
- If you are a PhD student, after successful completion of your first year, you will be eligible to apply for tutoring opportunities, to gain teaching experience.
A University review (2015) commended the Graduate School for providing excellent support: responsive to student feedback; proactive in helping new postgraduates to adjust to their studies and to life in Scotland; enthusiastic and practical in promoting career development. The postgraduate student committee works closely with the School to make the research student experience the best it can be.
The School of Divinity, one of the largest centres for the study of religion in the United Kingdom, is located in the historic setting of New College, close to Edinburgh Castle and overlooking Princes Street.
Resources for research are excellent. You can draw on the outstanding holdings of:
- New College Library
- University of Edinburgh main library
- 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.
The University library exceeds 2.25 million volumes.
The National Library of Scotland – a ‘legal deposit’ library like the British Library in London and the university libraries of Oxford and Cambridge – is just around the corner.
Research seminars and events
The School provides an extensive programme of weekly research seminars and special guest lectures. In addition, three research centres provide a special focus for activity:
- the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins
- the Centre for Theology and Public Issues
the Centre for the Study of World Christianity
You will have access to excellent study facilities, dedicated to postgraduates. PhD and MPhil students have access 24/7, and can request an allocated desk. Masters by Research students have shared study space. All areas have printing/scanning and computer facilities. The main postgraduate study wing has a kitchen. New College has an on-site cafe that is open during term time.
You can choose from two research programmes: the MPhil programme or PhD. Each takes a different amount of time: the MPhil takes two years; a PhD takes at least three.
Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
Studying for an MPhil commits you to at least two years’ full-time study and to writing a thesis of up to 50,000 words. You will have regular 1:1 supervision and work with advice from two supervisors. During the first year you explore your chosen area of research and refine your research proposal.
At around the nine-month mark, you will submit a draft chapter for discussion at a Review Board, together with a developed proposal for the whole thesis.
On the basis of your progress to date, and the prospects for your research, the Review Board will make recommendations on the continuation of your studies into the second year.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Research for a PhD will require you to undertake at least three years’ full-time study, and to write a thesis of up to 100,000 words.
You will have regular 1:1 supervision and work with advice from two supervisors.
For admission to the PhD programme, you will need to show a proven ability to sustain independent research under supervision, normally in the form of a masters programme that includes a dissertation.
From the beginning, the British pattern of PhD studies focuses on working towards the thesis – there is little or no coursework. This means that from the start you need to be well-prepared in any special skills you need for your research project, including languages.
You will also need to be competent in academic writing in English.
During the first year you explore your chosen area of research and refine your research proposal.
At around the nine-month mark, you will submit a draft chapter for discussion at a Review Board, together with a developed proposal for the whole thesis. On the basis of your progress to date, and the prospects for your research, the Review Board will make recommendations on the continuation of your studies into the second year. After that, you will have an annual review to discuss your progress.
These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.
Masters by Research and MPhil: A UK 2:1 honours degree with a mark of at least 65%, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject. You should also have academic training in the area of your research project.
PhD: A UK 2:1 honours degree with a mark of at least 65% in a relevant subject, and typically a specialist masters degree with a high level of attainment (at least 67% in both coursework and dissertation), or their international equivalents. You should also have academic training in the area of your research project.
We may also consider your application if you have other qualifications or experience; please contact us to check before you apply.
Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:
English language requirements
You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.
English language tests
We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:
- IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component.
- TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
- CAE and CPE: total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
- Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components.
- PTE Academic: 70 overall with at least 59 in each component.
Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.
(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)
Degrees taught and assessed in English
We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:
We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.
If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.
Find out more about our language requirements:
On average around 50% of Divinity postgraduate students are awarded some level of scholarship funding.
- Scholarships are awarded on academic merit. Most are open to all, but some are ring-fenced for applicants from certain parts of the world.
- Awards are made for both masters and PhD programmes.
- Typically, awards are for full or partial fee costs. Fully funded awards are exceptional and highly competitive.
UK government postgraduate loans
If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.
The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:
- your programme
- the duration of your studies
- your residency status
Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.
Other funding opportunities
Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:
- School of Divinity
- New College
- Mound Place
- Central Campus
- EH1 2LX
Select your programme and preferred start date to begin your application.
PhD Ethics and Practical Theology - 3 Years (Full-time)
PhD Ethics and Practical Theology - 6 Years (Part-time) (Part-time)
MPhil Ethics and Practical Theology - 2 Years (Full-time)
|Programme start date||Application deadline|
|12 September 2022||31 August 2022|
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.
You must submit two references with your application.
You will need to submit a formal research proposal as part of your application.
You must also submit a sample of your written academic work (3,000-5,000 words).
Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:
- School of Divinity
- New College
- Mound Place
- Central Campus
- EH1 2LX