A Level: A*AA IB: 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level
'Theology - isn't that only for those who want to be ordained?'
Far from it. Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion students at Cambridge include atheists and agnostics, as well as those who have a commitment to one of the major faith communities, and after graduation they find all kinds and conditions of professions open to them. What unites them is an interest in religion and the part that religion plays in human societies. That interest provides the core of one of the most exciting and exacting of humanities degrees.
The study of religion is interdisciplinary. The study of the sacred texts of the world’s religions involves both the study of languages and an appreciation of literary-critical methods. Examining the role of religion in society will open up the disciplines of history, sociology and anthropology for an interested student. Religious claims need to be assessed and analysed, so the study of the philosophy of religion and the history of religious thought is also essential. Few other humanities degrees equip students with such a range of skills or offer such a diverse range of interests.
That means that there are no particular GCE A level (or equivalent) requirements for Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion; any combination of subjects is welcome. The Faculty insists that students should study either Greek, Hebrew, Arabic or Sanskrit, at least to an elementary level so an ability with languages is advantageous. That is because the basic texts in any of the world’s religion are best appreciated and understood in their own language. This is most easily done in the first year, and should not deter anyone because the level of teaching and support provided is excellent.
Essential: No specific subjects.
Useful: A Level / IB Standard Level or above in one or more of English, Religious Studies, History, modern languages.
Typical offers require
A Level: A*AA
IB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level
Applicants are asked to submit two examples of their coursework prior to interview and these will form the basis for discussion during the interview itself. These pieces do not have to be in religious studies, but should be in a cognate humanities discipline such as History or English. The interviews will normally be with two Fellows, one of whom will be the Director of Studies, and are intended to explore the applicant's range of intellectual interests and their breadth of knowledge.
Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion - Further information
The Theology and Religious Studies Tripos consists of two parts: a one year Part I and a two year Part II (divided into Part IIA in the second year, and Part IIB in the third year). Undergraduates can offer Part I before changing to read Part II in another discipline, just as they can spend one or two years studying Theology and Religious Studies after taking Part I in another Faculty of the University.
Part I provides introductory papers to the major disciples of theology and religious studies - Biblical studies, Christian origins, the historical interaction between Christianity and non-Christian cultures, modern theology, sociological, anthropological and psychological approaches to the study of religion, the major religions of the world, and the philosophy of religion and ethics. Students have to offer five out of eight papers, one of which must be in a language (the choice is Greek, Hebrew, Arabic or Sanskrit). Part IIA allows the opportunity to develop interests gained in Part I and begin specialised studies. There are papers in biblical studies, Church history, systematic theology, the philosophy of religion, Islam, Judaism and the Indian religions, science and religion, and religion and the human sciences. Students are expected to offer four papers from a choice of sixteen.
Part IIB (which is taken in the final year) allows even further specialisation. Students are required to choose four papers from over twenty, and have the option to replace one of those papers with a dissertation. Amongst the twenty papers are a range of interdisciplinary papers.
Director of Studies - Dr Vittorio Montemaggi [external link]
Additional Teaching Fellows
Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion (information from Cambridge Admissions website)
Updated June 2023