'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 inter-disciplinary. 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.
All applicants for Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion are required to take a written assessment if interviewed.
The 2022 TRPR assessment will take place on Monday 28 November online, and so may follow a different format than that detailed below. Further information will be provided if you are invited to interview. You do not need to register for this assessment.
Assessment format: Brief lecture followed by written response (60 minutes).
The Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion Admission Assessment will take the form of a pre-recorded sample lecture lasting up to 20 minutes. You will then have the remaining 40 minutes to answer a set of comprehension questions. This will give you an opportunity to demonstrate how you have developed academically since you took your GCSEs. It will be skills-based, looking at your comprehension and writing skills, but will not assume any prior knowledge
Director of Studies - Dr Vittorio Montemaggi [external link]
Additional Teaching Fellows
Professor M D Hooker (Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity Emerita)
Professor J M Lieu (Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity)
Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion (information from Cambridge Admissions website)
Updated September 2022