Search magnifier
Open Days 2017: Book Now

Research Postgraduate

The MPhil and PhD are higher degrees, involving a programme of research training and supervision, and leading to the production of a thesis. As well as advanced education in the methods of research, the degree programme provides an unparalleled opportunity to pursue a specialist interest at great depth and under expert and experienced supervision.

The MPhil/PhD programme will interest a range of potential applicants: younger graduates looking to pursue a career in Higher Education or in another learned profession; existing academics seeking to extend their own experience and qualifications; clergy, ministers, lay workers looking to deepen their existing capacity for theological reflection; and well qualified theology graduates of any age seeking to further their interest in theology.

The objectives of study for a MPhil or PhD degree include:

  • Providing the student with an opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in a specialist area within Christian theology.
  • Allowing the student to develop an advanced capacity to utilize appropriate research methods in theology
  • Enabling the student to design, carry out and write up an independent research project of his or her own choosing.
  • Developing a capacity for analysis, constructive criticism, originality and independence of thought.
  • Providing an opportunity to participate in the Department's research culture.

The department is currently offering two PhD studentships. For more information, please see our research page.

Acceptance and Registration

All applicants have to complete the full application form. Apart from the normal personal details and details about the applicant's academic record, Form 1 asks for a full statement about the intended research.

Identifying the research proposal and presenting it in an appropriate form usually requires a number of meetings with the Department's Research Leader. For this reason most applicants are encouraged to make use of the university's arrangements for Probationer MPhil Status.

This provides an opportunity for applicants to receive expert supervision while drawing up their research proposal. Applicants are normally registered for the MPhil programme in the first instance. Eventual transfer to the PhD programme depends upon progress.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should normally hold a good honours degree in Theology or Religious Studies - or in a subject closely related to these - from a recognised UK or Overseas University or College.

Those with other qualifications may be considered in exceptional circumstances. All applicants must demonstrate that they are capable of undertaking a sustained piece of research and of producing a thesis.

Some candidates may be required to undertake a taught masters degree first. Students whose first language is not English will also be required to demonstrate an adequate knowledge of English.

The Difference between MPhil and PhD

In order to gain a PhD candidates must demonstrate that they have mastered a particular field of study and made an original and personal contribution to the understanding of a problem, or to the advancement of knowledge or to the generation of new ideas within Christian theology. Candidates will also need to demonstrate a deep understanding and awareness of the background to the subject of their study.

The MPhil differs from the PhD in terms of the depth of study required and the extent of the personal contribution to knowledge and understanding in the chosen field. It requires competence in conducting an independent enquiry, as well as in the use of appropriate research methods and techniques. Candidates must also demonstrate satisfactory background knowledge of the subject.

Completion of the MPhil or PhD involves submitting a thesis embodying the outcome of the research project. The thesis must be clearly written and presented in the required format. The subject should be dealt with in an orderly manner, using appropriate research methods and techniques and displaying critical discrimination in evaluating evidence.

The maximum length for the thesis is 75,000 words. All successful applicants will have at least two supervisors, one of whom will be appointed as Director of Studies and act as the principal advisor. Supervisors will be drawn from the Department's staff and collaborating scholars.

The course of study leading to the MPhil or PhD involves supervised full or part-time study. Candidates who wish to undertake part-time study will need to satisfy the Centre that they can commit sufficient time to the research project to sustain satisfactory progress.

The minimum periods of candidature, from the date of registration, are as follows:

  • MPhil not less than twelve months full-time not less than twenty four months part-time
  • PhD not less than twenty-four months full-time not less than thirty six months part-time
  • In practice the period of candidature will usually be longer. The maximum duration of candidature is four years full-time and six years part-time.

Probationer MPhil status

Most potential applicants need help in identifying their research proposal and in completing the application form. Probationer status provides suitably qualified candidates with a series of tutorials for up to one year (usually six tutorials), designed to help clarify the topic of research, identify sources, discuss appropriate research methodologies, and carry out a 'feasibility' study before making formal application to be accepted on the MPhil/PhD programme.