PhD Religions and Theology / Programme details

Year of entry: 2022

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Programme description

Raj Bharat Patta, a PhD research student in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at the University of Manchester presents his research as an 'elevator pitch'
Our full-time and part-time Religions and Theology PhD programme involves substantial original research in Religions and Theology, leading to the production of a thesis (of up to 80,000 words) that constitutes a significant contribution to knowledge.

Areas available for research include: 

  • Biblical studies, especially the Bible in context (Ancient Near Eastern, Jewish, Graeco-Roman), linguistic approaches, Bible and gender;
  • early Christianity, especially Nag Hammadi and magical texts;
  • papyri and other manuscripts in the John Rylands Library;
  • Rabbinic and medieval Judaism;
  • Jewish thought;
  • Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations;
  • Islamic philosophy and medicine;
  • Christian doctrine;
  • philosophical theology;
  • applied theology;
  • ecotheology;
  • theology and technology;
  • contemporary Christianity;
  • religious archives in the John Rylands Library;
  • religion and philosophy;
  • existentialism;
  • philosophy of law;
  • ethics;
  • religion and science;
  • religion and politics;
  • religion and gender.

Find out more about our staff's research interests on the People page.

One of our particular strengths is the ability of our research students to draw on the expertise of specialists in a wide range of disciplines.

This offers the possibility of developing interdisciplinary projects with high level expertise in both disciplines. For instance, recent PhD students have had supervision jointly between lecturers in Biblical studies and Roman social history, theology and music, and South Asian Studies and sociology.

Within Religions and Theology, our doctoral students also participate in a thriving disciplinary research culture. There are regular research seminars in Religions and Theology, Biblical Studies, and Jewish Studies.

Research students are also welcome at a wide range of seminars in other areas, for instance, in linguistics or in gender, sexuality and culture.

Religions and Theology students get the opportunity to meet and discuss with a range of major international scholars who visit to deliver seminars, public lectures (The Manson Memorial Lecture in New Testament, The Sherman Lectures in Jewish Studies, The Ferguson Lecture in Theology).

Many of our students undertake some undergraduate teaching, following appropriate training which is offered to all doctoral students.

Funds are available for students to organise conferences and travel to attend events and undertake research. 

There are opportunities to organise, participate in, and present papers at conferences led by PhD students and joint events, such as the Manchester-Durham-Sheffield PhD student conference in Biblical Studies.

Special features

Find out more about the Graduate School
Research environment

Nearly two-thirds of our scholarly publications in Religions and Theology were considered to be internationally excellent or world-leading in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, including research in Christianity and Christian Theology, Judaism and non-European religious traditions, noting particularly the Department's management and support of research students.

Our research centres sponsor weekly seminars that form the backbone of a vigorous research culture in the discipline, which is enhanced by the hosting of international and national conferences.

Find out more about Manchester's research in Religions and Theology .

Graduate School

All of our postgraduate students become members of the Graduate School when you start at Manchester. It has dedicated facilities for students and offers opportunities to collaborate with other postgraduates.

Teaching and learning

The PhD programme is based on supervised independent research. The student-supervisor relationship thus sits at the heart of this programme.

Doctoral supervision is on a one-to-one basis, with meetings usually fortnightly in the first year.

Each student has a main supervisor, a co-supervisor and an additional panel member who acts as an independent reviewer. The Religions and Theology Postgraduate Research Officer provides more general academic advice and support.

In addition to regular personal supervision, our graduate research students each have a research panel which meets a minimum of two times per year (on more occasions if necessary).

The research panel increases the breadth of expertise available to the student and widens the informational and networking opportunities accessible to them.

In addition the panel reviews the development of the student's research proposal, provides feedback on draft chapters and conference papers, discusses research progress, and provides guidance on the formulation of realistic objectives.

During the course of your programme, research postgraduates need to develop both broad generic research skills and specialised skills relevant to your specific discipline and field study.

Some of these skills will be acquired as part of our skills training, as well as a range of courses available across the University. Weekly seminars are sponsored by various research centres.

artsmethods@manchester  is a programme of talks, workshops and events running throughout the academic year, which explores approaches to arts research, research methods and the dissemination of arts and languages research at Manchester.

There is also training available in a wide range of disciplines that can support a Religions and Theology PhD. For instance, Manchester provides one of the UK's widest selections of language teaching.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment is based on the thesis and an oral examination. See what our current PhD students are working on.

Programme unit details

There are no compulsory taught units as part of the PhD programme.

However, where appropriate, you are encouraged to audit undergraduate and master's course units subject to advice and approval by your supervisory panel.

You will also select from a range of research training workshops and short courses as appropriate to your doctoral research project.

Particular research strengths are in: Biblical Studies, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls; Christian Studies including Practical Theology and Church History; Cultural, Political and Gender Studies; Jewish Studies; South Asian Studies, including ethnic minorities in Britain. Most supervision is on a one-to-one basis at least once a month and often more regularly, especially at the start of the programme. Weekly seminars are sponsored by various research centres. These form the backbone of a vigorous research culture in the discipline which is enhanced by the hosting of international and national conferences.


Alan Gilbert Learning Commons Fly Through

Manchester is home to one of the UK's five National Research Libraries - one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the UK and widely recognised as one of the world's greatest research libraries.

Find out more about libraries and study spaces for postgraduate research students at Manchester.

We also have one of the largest academic IT services in Europe - supporting world-class teaching and research. There are extensive computing facilities across campus, with access to standard office software as well as specialist programmes, all connected to the campus network and internet.

Every student is registered for email, file storage and internet access. If more demanding computer access is required, our specialist computing division can provide high-end and specialist computing services.

The Graduate School offers dedicated state of the art facilities to research students, including common rooms and workstations.

Disability support

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