Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Theology and Religious Studies MTh by Research, MScR

Awards: MTh by Research, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Research interests

The research interests of academic staff and graduate students in the Theology and Religious Studies department include a range of theoretical and practical approaches to:

  • ethics and practical theology
  • Hebrew and Old Testament studies
  • history of Christianity
  • Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations
  • New Testament and Christian origins
  • religious studies
  • science and religion
  • systematic theology
  • world Christianity

Who is this programme for?

If you have academic training in theology or religious studies (or another relevant subject), and would like to develop your interest with a focus on a particular area, this Masters by Research programme may interest you.

Research community and environment

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) 2021 ranks the School first in Scotland and fifth in the UK for its research power in theology and religious studies. The majority of the research activity of our colleagues is classed as world-leading, reflecting the vibrancy of the School’s research culture.

Contacting a supervisor before application

You are encouraged to contact a potential supervisor to discuss your research project before making a formal application.

This programme can be taken either as a:

  • Master of Theology by Research
  • Master of Science by Research

The difference is only in the name.

Study duration and patterns

You can study either:

  • full-time - one year
  • part-time - two years

Your pattern of study can either be:

  • three supervised research essays (two at 4,000 words and one at 7,000 words); AND
  • a 15,000 word dissertation


  • two supervised research essays (7,500 words each), written in the style of an article for an academic journal; AND
  • a 15,000 word dissertation.

All students receive research training and will be required to audit at least one taught course.

Graduate School environment

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.

Research and taught opportunities

You will be part of the research seminar in your area of interest, to which visiting speakers are invited and to which PhD students present work-in-progress.

You will also 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.

Student support

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 research masters student, you will work 1:1 with your research supervisor.

How will my progress be tracked?

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.

School location

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.

Research resources

Our resources for research are excellent. You can draw on the outstanding collection of:

  • New College Library
  • University of Edinburgh’s Main Library
  • National Library of Scotland - nearby New College

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.

You will have access to excellent study facilities, dedicated to postgraduates. Masters by Research students have shared study space. All areas have printing/scanning and computer facilities. New College has an on-site cafe that is open during term time.

Research Centres

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:

  • Centre for the Study of Christian Origins
  • Centre for Theology and Public Issues
  • Centre for the Study of World Christianity

  • School of Divinity research

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

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.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

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. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 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.

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 (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MTh by ResearchTheology and Religious Studies1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MTh by ResearchTheology and Religious Studies2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MScRTheology and Religious Studies1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScRTheology and Religious Studies2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Divinity
  • New College
  • Mound Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LX
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 31 August 2024

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.

You must submit two references with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Divinity
  • New College
  • Mound Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LX