MA Religions and Theology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

For my dissertation, I had an interest in how contemporary art encapsulated both old ideas and current concerns.

The department encouraged my interdisciplinary dissertation and guided me through my analysis of religious, secular, post-modernist and art historical resources.

Rebecca Bailey / Exhibitions Assistant, Constantine Ltd

Our MA Religions and Theology master's course is aimed at both specialists who want to deepen their knowledge and skills, and graduates of other disciplines who want to switch to postgraduate-level study of this subject.

Studying Religions and Theology with all the intellectual tools of contemporary scholarship is a responsibility that The University of Manchester has taken seriously for over a century.

With no binding ties to religious institutions, we approach our subject from a distinctively comparative, contextual and interdisciplinary angle.

Our approach allows you to ask questions you might not otherwise ask, and to cross boundaries you might not cross in other settings where religion and theology are discussed.

This course is designed to enable you to either take units covering a broad range of religious, theological and philosophical traditions, or concentrate your study in an area that interests you.

Some of the routes you can take through this degree incorporate Biblical Studies, Jewish Studies, Theology, Philosophy and Ethics and Politics and Gender.


We aim to:

  • provide multi-disciplinary curricula informed by the research and scholarly activities of the teaching staff;
  • develop your critical understanding of religion and theology through a range of learning and teaching methods;
  • equip you with the skills necessary to interpret primary and secondary sources and to make available appropriate language instruction, where feasible; 
  • help students from diverse backgrounds progress though their programme by providing effective academic and pastoral support;
  • equip you for a variety of careers through subject-specific knowledge, active engagement in your own learning, and the development of analytical and other transferable skills;
  • provide a stimulating research environment through seminars, tutorials and programmes of guest lectures that will foster postgraduate study;
  • develop skills in research and analysis that will foster postgraduate study.

Special features

I wanted to expand my knowledge of historical and Jewish Studies subjects whilst developing my research and essay skills. The MA proved to be an ideal choice.

It encourages people from a wide age range and differing social/professional backgrounds to engage together in a stimulating and rewarding environment.

Rob Kanter / MA Religions and Theology (2016-17)

Flexible timetabling

Our core course units and the main MA course unit options are generally timetabled between 4pm and 6pm on Monday and Tuesday evenings, making it easier for those in work to complete the course.

Multi-religious Manchester

Multi-religious Manchester. Study the religious life of one of the world's most religiously and ethnically diverse cities. The city's wide variety of sacred spaces and religious communities would be hard to find elsewhere, and the Department has particularly strong connections to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faith groups. Come along to our Scriptural Encounters seminar programme featuring discussions with local leaders and representatives from all faiths and none.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through high-level, small-group seminar discussion, mainly assessed by essays that form mini-research projects in areas of your interest.

These course units are followed by one-to one supervision for a research dissertation.

This structure means that if you have studied an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies, Theology, Philosophy, Ethics or related subjects, the MA provides an extended opportunity to work in depth in what fascinated you in your BA, while also offering the chance for exploring other areas that you might have missed.

On the other hand, if your degree is in another area of the humanities, the small-group and one-to-one focus gives us the chance to provide tailored help to get you up to speed in any area of Religions and Theology.

You are also able to join in undergraduate classes, whether that is to have an extended exposure to the basics of a topic or to learn a language.

In fact, even students who already have a BA in the field quite often find that they want to pick up a subject that they previously missed. One of Manchester's key distinctive features is that you are very free to do this.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment is usually by essay on a topic agreed between the student and lecturer.

Language course units may also involve an examination.

The dissertation is up to 12,000 words and you will receive one-to-one supervisory support.

Course unit details

You will undertake units totalling 180 credits. Core and optional units combine to make 120 credits, with the remaining 60 credits allocated to the dissertation.

The first semester of study includes two core course units. Each class is two hours for half of the first semester. They bring all the MA students together, producing interchange and dialogue between your various specialisms, backgrounds and nationalities.

In class, you first study together on Methods for Analysing Religious and Theological Issues, then on Impacts of Religious and Theological Issues on Society and Culture. However, for your assessments, you are assigned to a lecturer in an area of your particular interest (eg Jewish studies), who offers small-group or one-to-one support to produce a Methods essay and an Impacts essay relating to your interests.

You choose your other course units from six types of options. You can combine these to produce anything from a broad mix to a specialised programme. Combinations of options are subject to Programme Director guidance and programme rules.

Six dedicated MA course units in religions and theology cover a broad menu of religious, theological and philosophical texts, traditions and issues.

Topics typically available are:

  • Christian theology and politics;
  • ethnic minorities and religious Identities;
  • Bible and early Jewish texts;
  • relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims;
  • New Testament in Graeco-Roman context;
  • philosophy of moral decision-making.

You can take a third year religions and theology unit, enhanced for MA by provision of extra tutorial support and assessment by an MA-level essay.

Topics typically available are:

  • religion and cinema;
  • studying sacred spaces;
  • Rabbinic Judaism;
  • Holocaust theology;
  • Bible and gender;
  • Paul's theology and ethics;
  • radical theologies;
  • religion and politics;
  • Japanese Buddhism;
  • contemporary Islam.

A further undergraduate unit can be attended in relation to the Directed Reading option.

These lists may be subject to change. For course units running in the current year , please see the Course unit list below. For current plans for next year, please contact us.

Further study options

Manchester offers a wide range of language options: Biblical Hebrew; New Testament Greek; Arabic; Classical Greek; Latin; Modern Hebrew; many other modern languages, all at either introductory or advanced level.

Manchester also offers probably the UK's widest range of options from other subject areas that can be taken as part of your MA Religions and Theology course. You have access to most of the units within other arts, languages and cultures master's courses at Manchester. We work particularly closely with our colleagues within Archaeology and Classics and Ancient History.

You can also take many options from other areas. Another type of option is directed reading on an agreed topic, leading to an essay. Finally, there is a placement option: 20 hours in an arranged work-related placement with supporting lectures and assessed by report/essay.

You may also attend further MA or BA Religions and Theology course units without taking them for credit. There are also non-credit-bearing skills lectures provided by the Graduate School, and you are invited to a wide range of research seminars for postgraduates and staff, often given by internationally leading guest speakers.

All in all, Manchester offers you the fullest possible range of MA learning opportunities.

Participate in our research centres' research seminars, lecture series and other activities. Your core course essays and dissertation can also intersect with our research.

Centre for Jewish Studies : This is one of three designated leading European centres for Jewish studies research and teaching. Options typically available cover Bible and early Jewish texts; relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims; ethnic minorities and religious Identities; Rabbinic Judaism; Holocaust theology; Bible and gender; Biblical Hebrew (introductory or advanced); modern Hebrew (introductory or advanced); Near Eastern archaeology; papyrology.

Centre for Biblical Studies : With over 30 active researchers, this is one of the world's most productive Biblical research centres. Options typically available cover: Bible and early Jewish texts; New Testament in Graeco-Roman context; Paul's letters; Bible and gender; Biblical Hebrew (introductory or advanced); New Testament Greek (introductory or advanced); Near Eastern archaeology; papyrology; law and society in the Roman empire.

Lincoln Theological Institute : We are at the cutting edge of research into theology, ethics, social, pastoral and ecclesial issues. Options typically available cover Christian theology and politics; ethnic minorities and religious Identities; relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims; philosophy of moral decision-making; radical theologies; religion and politics; Holocaust theology; Bible and gender; Pauline theology, ethics and philosophy.

Work Placements

The Department of Religions and Theology is part of a wider university project to place humanities students in a variety of work placements. Some of our most recent list of placement partners include:

Creative Industry

  • Curatorial / Exhibition assistance (Touchstones Art Gallery)
  • Event Planning and Co-ordination (Chuck gallery)
  • Communications and Sponsorship Assistant (Manchester Jazz Festival, Quarantine Theatre)
  • Digital Marketing and Communications Assistance (Common Wealth Theatre)
  • Social Media and Marketing (Chuck Gallery)

Museums and Archives

  • Digital archiving (Imperial War Museum North, Islington Mill Archive)
  • Publications editor/curator (Manchester Modernist Society)
  • Archival assistance (Rylands Library, Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre)
  • Translation (Elizabeth Gaskell's House)
  • Project Delivery assistance (City of Sanctuary)
  • Project Assistance (Purple Patch, Digital Woman's Archive)

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
PG Dissertation RELT60000 60 Mandatory
Methods for Analysing Religious and Theological Issues RELT61131 15 Mandatory
Impacts of Religious and Theological Issues on Society and Culture RELT61141 15 Mandatory
Directed Reading 15cr RELT61151 15 Optional
Directed Reading 15cr RELT61152 15 Optional
New Testament Greek: Beginners RELT70210 30 Optional
Bible in Ancient Contexts and Current Debates RELT71002 15 Optional
Jews among Christians and Muslims RELT71152 15 Optional
Interpreting Greek texts: Advanced New Testament Greek RELT71170 30 Optional
Christian Thought and Practice in Contemporary Society RELT71201 15 Optional
Philosophy of Decision-Making: Ethical and Legal Aspects of Moral Dilemmas RELT71212 15 Optional
Religion and Gender Theory SALC62312 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 12 course units

What our students say

See what our students have to say about studying Religions and Theology at Manchester on the student spotlights  page.


The John Rylands Library houses many collections of world importance, including papyri, manuscripts and the world Methodist archive. As an MA student you are able to access the archives and propose a dissertation topic using archive material, the use of which you will receive training on.

The Bill Williams Library is also a study space for Religions and Theology, housing a major collection on Anglo-Jewish history and other resources for Jewish Studies.

Find out more on the Facilities page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email:

CPD opportunities

Our core course units and the main MA course unit options are generally timetabled between 4pm and 6pm on Monday and Tuesday evenings, enabling the MA to be completed by studying in time slots designed to be as suitable as possible for continuing professional development for teachers and others in full or part-time work.