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Postgraduate Study - PhD and Research Degrees

Theology and Religion


Degree types explained

  • MPhil/PhD Theology and Religion
  • MA by Research Theology and Religion

Degree duration details

Start date

September, January or April

Location Streatham Campus
Study modes

Study mode details

Full time or part time. Distance-based research available.


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.

View 2024 Entry

How to apply

Apply online

Ask a question


Web: Enquire online

Phone: +44 (0)1392 72 72 72


Web: Enquire online
Phone: 0300 555 6060 (UK)
+44 (0)1392 723044 (non-UK)

Top 100 in world subject rankings for Theology and Religion

QS World University Subject Rankings 2022

Top 4 in UK subject rankings for Theology and Religion

The Complete University Guide 2023

No. 1 in the UK for our world-leading research in Theology and Religious Studies

Research Excellence Framework 2021

£1.25m external research funding awarded

Academic years 2014-2018

Research overview

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 and groups

  • 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.

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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

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The Exeter Centre for Ethics and Practical Theology aims to further theological research in understanding the role of religion in social and political formation. We are keen to collaborate with a variety of partners in our research projects: academic, artistic, faith-based and social-justice-seeking communities at regional, national and international levels.

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How to apply

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

International students need to show they have the required level of English language to study this course. The required test scores for this course fall under Profile E: view the required test scores and equivalencies from your country.

PhD and Research Programme application process

The information below applies to self-funded PhD, MPhil and Masters by Research applicants, but if you are applying for a funded PhD studentship, please follow the specific instructions related to that application.

  • Pinpoint your PhD research area
  • Investigate whether this area is available at Exeter
  • Ensure that you meet our English language entry requirements (international students only)
  • Construct and refine your PhD research proposal
  • Approach your potential supervisor(s)
  • Apply online

PhD studentships pages can be accessed in our Funding lists on Finance tabs under each research topic page, and are also available from the Postgraduate Research search results pages on this site, on the PhD projects tab.

Full details of the application process can be found on our Apply now webpage.

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Fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2024/25

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 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.

Our Postgraduate Funding webpage provides links to further information. If you are considering a PhD in the future, in addition to University of Exeter funding, we have been successful at securing postgraduate funding for PhD research through our Funded centres.

Current available funding


You can expect:

  • High-quality research supervision to develop and nurture your potential
  • A tailored supervision approach to help best suit your requirements
  • Accessible supervisors who are enthusiastic about working directly with postgraduate research students
  • Regular timetabled meetings with your supervisor
  • 'Open door' policy to all postgraduate students - instant access to world-leading researchers who will share their expertise and ideas with you
  • Regular meetings with your supervisory team, other members of your research group, and mentors

› Theology and Religion staff profiles

You will only be able to pursue a research degree with us if we can offer appropriate supervision. Your supervisors will provide the necessary support and guidance and so need to have expertise in your chosen research field. You may join a research team or work with specific members of staff.

We strongly recommend that you informally approach your potential supervisor(s) with your research proposal before submitting a formal application to study. This will enable you to find out if they feel they would be able to supervise you and whether they believe your research proposal needs further refinement.

Visit our how to apply page for detailed information on the application process.

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

Job title
Vice President of creative content
Lecturer Creative Media
Information Systems Analyst IV

The skills and expertise that you build now are fundamental to your continuing professional development (CPD), and will be part of your toolset throughout your working life.

We strongly recommend that our students take part in the University's Postgraduate Researchers' Programme, which offers training in skills such as:

  • research management
  • personal effectiveness
  • communication
  • networking
  • team-working
  • career management