MPhil/PhD Theology and Religion

Duration MPhil: Full time 2-3 years; Part time 4-5 years
PhD: Full time 3-4 years; Part time 6-7 years
  • MPhil/PhD Theology and Religion
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September, January or April


The Department adopts a ‘hands on’ approach to PhD supervision which has proven effective with respect to successful completion. The research culture at Exeter is characterised by conversation that crosses sub-disciplinary boundaries (biblical studies, patristics, historical theology, systematics, ethics and philosophical theology), and is sustained by a variety of formal and informal means. We work hard to include research students in that conversation.

All students have a primary and a secondary supervisor, and a mentor whose responsibilities are more pastoral. You will work closely your supervisors over three to four years (full time PhD) or six to seven (part-time PhD) to develop, investigate and write-up a project at the cutting edge of theological research. We accept applications from students whose proposed projects fall in any of the research areas covered by our staff.

To support your research, the College offers an established series of courses in generic research skills and the Department offers various fora to enable research students, staff and distinguished visiting theologians to exchange ideas, encourage each others’ research, and present papers. Alongside regular informal meetings of various kinds, staff and postgraduate students participate in the fortnightly research seminars in Biblical Studies and Theological Studies, plus the postgraduate study day. Staff are actively involved in societies such as the Society for the Study of Theology and the Society for New Testament Study, and postgraduates are encouraged to attend and present papers.

Students are given opportunities to participate in the Department’s teaching, as Graduate Teaching Assistants, or Tutors for one of our online courses. We provide detailed guidance in advance, carefully mentored throughout (working closely with a member of staff who has overall responsibility for the module in question), and formally monitored by our peer review process.

Research areas

A summary of our main areas of research is provided here. The Theology Research webpages provide more comprehensive details about current research projects. Details on individual staff research interests and publications can be found on the Theology staff profiles pages.

These broad headings indicate some of the main areas where our work is focused:

  • Religion and ethics in public life
  • Biblical studies and biblical interpretation
  • Christian theology and the learning church
  • Philosophical reflection and aspects of human life

Current and recent research projects

We have a successful track record in attracting funding for a variety of research projects advancing debates in Theology and Religion and contributing to our knowledge of important interdisciplinary topics, with a recent focus on:

  • Uses of the Bible in environmental ethics
  • Exploring formation for ministry in a learning church
  • The church and climate change
  • Texts of land, sea and hope
  • Vegetarianism as a spiritual choice in historical and contemporary theology

Research centres

Centre for Biblical Studies

  • Uses of the Bible in Environmental Ethics
  • Texts of Land, Hope and Sea
  • The Roles of Ancestor Veneration in Biblical Land Claims (British Academy) 2007-2008
  • Publication of Pre-Islamic Incantation Bowls (British Academy, 2009). Dr Siam Bhayro is collaborating with a team of scholars in Israel, under the supervision of Professor Shaul Shaked (Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Religion, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem).
  • Louise Lawrence, "Sensory Impairment in the New Testament and Biblical Interpretation" (British Academy Small Research Grant, 2009-2011, to support research activity leading to a monograph for an OUP series entitled Sense and Stigma: Refiguring Sensory Impaired Characters in the Gospels.
  • Cherryl Hunt is currently engaged in a research project funded by Bible Society to evaluate the progress and outcomes of their Pathfinder programme, which is being run within a small group of churches of different denominations.

Centre for the Learning Church

  • The church and climate change (Dr Michael W. DeLashmutt, supported by the Nuffield Foundation)
  • Exploring Formation for Ministry in a Learning Church (Dr Michael DeLashmutt, St Luke's College Foundation, 2007-2010)
  • Texts of Land Sea and Hope (Louise Lawrence; SWMTC; 2006-2009)

Network for Religion in Public Life

Areas of particular interest include:

  • Religion in public life
  • Cultural diversity, belief pluralism and political theory
  • Global human rights discourses
  • Legal and theological perspectives on natural law
  • Social and political co-operation between faith communities
  • The common good in theology, philosophy, ethics and political science
  • Religion and pragmatism
  • Public reasoning in democracies
  • Theologies of forgiveness in political contexts
  • Religious freedom and the law


We provide access to excellent computing facilities and training is provided in a broad range of academic and general professional skills, such as compiling a CV, interview skills and time management.

Following the recent refurbishment of the Queen’s Building, you will benefit from a dedicated postgraduate IT suite and lounge, as well as a postgraduate and staff common room. There is also a study room containing a number of private study carrels for research students.


We are committed to ensuring you receive high quality research supervision to maximise your potential and prepare you for a rewarding career.

Postgraduate students have access to the wide range of support offered by our Career Zone. In addition, postgraduate research students can access our Postgraduate Researchers' Programme, which covers a range of topics to help you to succeed during your research degree and to act as a springboard for your research career.

Graduate destinations

Below are some examples of initial jobs undertaken by Theology and Religion postgraduates who studied with us in recent years.

Please note that due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job titleOrganisation
Associate Research Fellow
HR Projects Assistant
Sustainable Travel Advisor
Teaching Assistant
Capita Education
Devon County Council
Jamaica Theological Seminary
Prospect College
Ripon College Cuddesdon
The Churches Conservation Trust
University of Exeter

Entry requirements 2018

Students applying to enter directly into the MPhil/PhD programme would normally be expected to have a Masters degree with Merit or equivalent in Theology, or other relevant qualifications such as a doctorate in another subject.

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements. 

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 6.0.


Overall score 100 with minimum scores of 25 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

65 with no less than 58 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Finance: fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2018/19

  • UK/EU: £4,400 full-time; £2,200 part-time
  • International: £16,400 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

Current available funding

Contact us

College of Humanities
Postgraduate Administrator
Phone: +44 (0)1392 725306
Web: Enquire online

Dr Esther Reed
Phone: +44 (0) 1392 724241
Email: or

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Why study for a Theology PhD at Exeter?

Hear Penny Cowell Doe explain why she chose to study for her PhD in Theology at the University of Exeter.

I love my PhD

Theology PhD student Dave Shaw tells us about his research and why he loves his PhD. See full size.