About the School of Divinity

The School of Divinity is one of about 30 academic Schools within the University of St Andrews. It is also known as St Mary’s College.

St Mary’s, founded in 1537, is one of the ancient colleges of the University; it has been dedicated to the study of Divinity since 1579 and still occupies the same handsome buildings in St Mary’s Quadrangle.

The College’s motto is In Principio Erat Verbum (‘In the Beginning was the Word’), and its coat of arms shows a lily (for St Mary the Virgin) and a book, flanked by emblems from the arms of its founders:

  • three mascles (diamonds) and an otter for Archbishop James Beaton
  • a lymphad (galley) and three cinquefoils (five-petalled flowers) for Archbishop John Hamilton.


The School of Divinity is committed to the historical integrity of the classical disciplines of Divinity (Hebrew Bible and Old Testament, New Testament, Church history, historical and systematic theology, practical theology, and ethics), and to the technical, historical, and linguistic competencies that undergird them. This disciplinary focus enables productive research partnerships with institutions that offer complementary expertise, such as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Centre for Islamic Theology in Tübingen, and the Theological Faculty of the University of Zurich.

The School’s disciplinary grounding also enables rich cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary engagement, which is conducted primarily through the School’s four research institutes:

More information about the School’s research emphases, projects, impact, and opportunities can be found on the research pages.


The School of Divinity offers a world-class education. Its staff are internationally recognised scholars who are leaders in their fields and in the classroom.

The School of Divinity has climbed to 14th place in the 2023 QS World University Ranking. This is a great achievement on our 19th place in 2021 and 2022. The School is 4th in the UK, and 1st in Scotland, for Theology, Divinity & Religious Studies.

The Complete University Guide 2023 sees the School of Divinity maintain its position as the best in Scotland, and fifth in the UK. St Andrews is now the top university in the UK, moving ahead of Oxford and Cambridge in the Guardian University Guide 2023.

The School is highly selective, admitting around 25 undergraduates and 50 postgraduates (MLitt and PhD) per year. Small, seminar-style Honours modules encourage student participation in topics of active research.

Find out more on the pages for prospective students


The School of Divinity has about 25 full-time academic staff who are responsible for the teaching, research, and running of the School. There are usually a number of research fellows engaged on specific, externally funded projects, as well as some teaching fellows.

Meet the School's academic staff, honorary and emeritus fellows, PhD students and support staff on the people pages.


The School of Divinity has had its home in St Mary’s College since the 16th century. It has many fine historic rooms and buildings. Find out more on the facilities page


The School of Divinity has a long history, dating back to the establishment of the University. Find out more on the history page