Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA Religious Studies

UCAS code: V627

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Divinity

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Religious Studies

Religious studies is an interdisciplinary field focusing on religious beliefs and practices and their relationship with the wider world.

You will study the concepts, emotions and rituals which underpin religious belief and practice, and their role and function in culture and society.

What you will cover

Our programme covers historical and contemporary material. It takes as much interest in the groups and people who practise religion as their gods, deities, ancestors and spirits.

Religion has a long history and remains a powerful force in the contemporary world. Religious studies provides the tools and skills to help you get to grips with this vital field of study.

You will:

  • look at practices and texts
  • consider a range of expressions of religion from popular culture to systematic ideas
  • approach religion at both the individual and collective level
  • study traditions in different countries

Year 1

Religious studies courses

In Year 1, you will study two core religion courses. These will cover a range of religious traditions and methods of study.

You will also choose from a range of courses on religious traditions, including:

  • Buddhist and Hindu traditions
  • Jewish studies
  • spirituality and new religions
  • Christianity
  • Islam

Optional courses

You can choose courses from different subject areas as combined options, including:

  • ancient history
  • history of art
  • classics
  • music
  • Scottish history
  • politics
  • social anthropology
  • social policy
  • sociology

You can also take optional courses from other University subject areas.

Year 2

In Year 2, you will:

  • study two core religion courses, covering a range of religious traditions and approaches
  • take courses following on from your Year 1 choices

Year 3

In Year 3, you will choose advanced courses on one or more religious traditions and will take other courses in the study of religion.

Typical courses include advanced studies of:

  • South Asian religions
  • Jewish studies
  • new forms of spirituality and new religions
  • atheism and the rejection of religion
  • theories of religion

You may also take advanced courses in the study of Christianity and Islam.

If you took combined options in Years 1 and 2, you may continue with these.

Year 4

In Year 4, you will choose further advanced courses on one or more religious traditions and complete a dissertation with academic supervision.

If you took combined options in your first three years, you may continue with these.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2024/25)

Our facilities

Your teaching will mostly be at New College in the centre of Edinburgh. This city landmark has its own:

  • historic library
  • study space
  • hall
  • garden

New College Library holds one of the largest theology and religious studies collections in the UK. Its special collections include:

  • historical archives
  • manuscripts
  • printed books
  • objects

Current collections support the teaching and research activities of the School of Divinity in:

  • biblical studies
  • the history of Christianity
  • religious studies
  • theology and ethics
  • world Christianity

The collections continue to develop in new and evolving areas such as science and religion, Christian-Muslim relations, Buddhist and Jewish studies, and religion and literature.

You will also have access to the University's libraries and computing facilities, located in George Square.

The city of Edinburgh also has many museums, galleries and cultural sites. These offer opportunities to broaden and deepen your learning.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at the School of Divinity on the University's Virtual Visit site and explore our facilities and campus.

Take a virtual tour of the School of Divinity

Study abroad

You will have a range of opportunities to spend time abroad. For shorter periods, these include summer programmes and working abroad.

During Year 3, you will have the chance to study abroad on exchange for up to a year at a wide selection of leading global universities. These include two institutions the School of Divinity has ongoing relationships with:

  • Radboud University Nijmegen
  • Dartmouth College

Going abroad expands your horizons and is great fun. It also offers academic and career benefits.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • digital learning

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, including:

  • exams
  • coursework
  • participation in seminars
  • presentation of your work
  • an honours dissertation

Our graduates pursue a wide range of careers in a variety of sectors, including:

  • the creative arts
  • non-governmental organisations
  • finance
  • teaching
  • management
  • administration
  • government
  • counselling
  • the voluntary sector

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

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.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 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 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)

This degree is also available as a part-time degree. For more information and an application form, contact the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Undergraduate Admissions.

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Undergraduate Admissions

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Religious Studies

Additional costs



For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding

More information

How to apply

School: Divinity

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences