Theology and Religion

  • MPhil/PhD Theology and Religion
  • MA by Research Theology and Religion
Degree typesTypes of research degrees explained
DurationDegree duration details
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Study modesFull time and part time
Distance-based research available Study mode details
Start date September, January or April

Research overview

The Department of Theology and Religion at Exeter is a centre of excellence for teaching and research across a broad and diverse range of interests within the discipline. Our department is welcoming and supportive, with a lively and dynamic team of scholars of theology, religion, history, ethics, philosophy of religion, biblical studies and anthropology. Our research interests span a wide range of subject areas, with particular research strengths, including: biblical studies, the reception of Christian and Jewish traditions, disability studies, religion in the public sphere, sex and gender, and religious art and architecture. There are close links with other disciplines in the College of Humanities and Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies.

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 OLD Jun22

  • 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

Postgraduate students study broadly in the areas of biblical studies, patristics, Christian doctrine, philosophical theology, and the ethical, social and political implications of Christian theology. Some choose inter- or multi-disciplinary topics. 

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.


  • ‘Hands on’ PhD supervision with a successful completion rate
  • Courses in generic research skills
  • Opportunities for research students to meet staff and distinguished visiting theologians to exchange ideas, encourage each others’ research, and present papers.
  • Fortnightly research seminars in Biblical Studies and Theological Studies
  • 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.


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

Former Exeter Theology and Religion postgraduate students have gone on to research posts at:


  • Azusa Pacific University, USA
  • Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
  • Bethel University, USA
  • Eastern University, USA
  • Cambridge, UK
  • Durham, UK
  • Exeter, UK
  • Oxford Universities, UK
  • Woolf Institute, UK


Former graduates are also employed at Prospect College, Washington DC, the Jamaica Theological Seminary, Sarum College, Rye St Anthony School and Exeter College. Outside education, students have gone on to roles such as working in research and development in the Methodist Church and Christian Concern for One World.

Entry requirements

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. 

We accept applications from students whose proposed projects fall in any of the research areas covered by our staff.

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.

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 2023/24

For those studying for more than one year, our fees are expected to increase modestly in line with Consumer Price Inflation measured in December each year. More information can be found on our Student Finance webpages.

Tuition fees per year 2022/23

For those studying for more than one year, our fees are expected to increase modestly in line with Consumer Price Inflation measured in December each year. More information can be found on our Student Finance webpages.

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


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.



Apply online How to apply Theology and Religion research pages Staff profiles Ask a question Print page

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.

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