Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
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Theology and Religious Studies

Ellie Ashton talks about her experience of studying at Edinburgh and why she chose to study theology and religious studies with us.

Ellie Ashton

Ellie Ashton

Ellie Ashton is a 1st year student studying MA Religious Studies.

"I came to the Open Day in September 2017 knowing very little about the University of Edinburgh; only that it was old, excellent, and Scottish. I fell head over heels in love with the city, where mountains and castles meet a metropolis."

My programme

"I fell in love with religious studies after an excellent GCSE curriculum, but knew that if I were to do a degree in the subject it would have to be after some gap years and could not focus exclusively on the Abrahamic traditions.

New College, where the School of Divinity is based, offers an amazing selection of compulsory modules in Religious Studies - I've learned about Islam, Judaism and Buddhism in my first semester, and Indigenous African Religions in my second - but I am also able to supplement that with incredible elective modules, like Popular Religion, Women and Witchcraft!

Hannah Holtschneider really brought Judaism to life in a way that I hadn't experienced before, and Nathanael Vette, my Global Religions tutor, makes us question texts and topics in a way I wouldn't have considered. Jolyon Mitchell is also legendary among my peers, especially with his prior experience in the fields of journalism and religious peacebuilding.

I like that I can choose several subjects to study, rather than just one. For a programme like Religious Studies, it's so useful to have a broad understanding of many subjects, because world religions are affected by sociological, economic, and political issues.

This interdisciplinary approach, tailored to my own personal interests, makes this Religious Studies programme the best in the UK."

The programme is progressive, inclusive and wide ranging. I think four year courses are brilliant, truly allowing for breadth and depth within a subject, and the interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum.

Ellie Ashton1st year, Religious Studies (MA Hons)

Settling in

"I took two gap years, so when the time came to go to university I was absolutely ready for it. However, there were a couple of IKEA and TK Maxx trips I may not have survived without!

I'd really recommend looking into course requirements and module choices, so you know what to expect. And don't worry about making friends - the right people will find you!

I felt very welcomed - by the end of Welcome Week I felt as though I'd been here forever!

I didn't know how I'd find academic study at this level, especially after two gap years. However I quickly realised that everyone is in the same boat, and the lecturers make sure that you learn 'how’ to learn at a degree level. There are so many support options for first years and that really made settling in to my course easy."

My student experience

"I live in West Tollcross in student accomodation. I didn't choose this particular place as it's out of my budget, but I've met some great people. It's also only a 15 minute walk to the University.

I cannot believe my luck every time I walk under the archway at New College. Sometimes I can hear bagpipes from my lecture halls. It's idyllic. Hard work too, but that’s what I signed up for!

I come from a small Welsh town so I was really excited at the prospect of meeting more people. I've met some absolutely brilliant friends; some from London, some from Northern England, some from Scotland, and three of my flatmates are Chinese! It's been such a great way to learn about other cultures, traditions and beliefs."

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Student life


 My support

"The Chaplaincy have been so supportive, readily available with a cup of tea. They are an amazing resource with a Chaplain for every faith or spirituality. It's warm, quiet and filled with comfy sofas - a total hidden gem.

I also cannot recommend the Divinity School Student Support enough - they've got big boxes of tissues and are so sweet!

I've also recently discovered the Labyrinth in George Square, which is a lovely place for a meditative walk, lunch with the squirrels, or a bit of fresh air."

My advice to new students

"Go to University when you're ready, work hard to get onto the perfect course, and when the time comes, grab hold of the opportunity with open arms. Also - smile at everybody!

As mentioned, the Chaplaincy are fantastic and should be used by everyone who needs a chat and some reassurance."

Interested in studying theology and religious studies?

Choose to study at Edinburgh and you’ll be investing in an education that will help you build a successful future. Find out more about studying with us and why you should choose Edinburgh for your theology and religious studies programme.

Why choose theology and religious studies at Edinburgh?