Bible and the Contemporary World – distance learning (PGDip/MLitt) 2020/2021 entry

The Distance Learning PG Diploma/MLitt in Bible and the Contemporary World is a part-time virtual learning programme that connects biblical and theological studies with other disciplines in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Bible and the Contemporary World is also offered as a full-time residential programme.

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Course type

Postgraduate, leading to a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) or Master of Letters (MLitt)

Course dates

For those starting in September 2020, the course starts with a study week in St Andrews from Monday 31 August to Friday 4 September 2020.

For those starting in January 2021, the course starts with a study week in St Andrews from Monday 18 to Friday 22 January 2021.

If you started this programme in 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 Bible and the Contemporary World – distance learning page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Course duration

15 weeks part time (single module); minimum 18 months part time, maximum 4 years part time (PGDip); minimum 2 years part time, maximum 5 years part time (MLitt)

Entry requirements

The School of Divinity encourages applications from those who have an undergraduate degree in any subject, and recognises that in some cases this may have been attained a number of years ago and that weaker performance at that time might not always indicate an applicant’s current academic potential.

A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree is normally expected, but if your degree classification is lower, you should indicate more recent, perhaps informal, learning in your letter of intent. You do not need to have a degree in Theology or Biblical Studies in order to apply for a place on this programme; however, all applicants will be expected to have sufficient knowledge to equip them for postgraduate level of study in this area. Prospective applicants who are unable to offer a 2.1 Honours degree are invited to have discussions in advance with the course director: email

If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.

English language proficiency. See English language tests and qualifications.

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

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Tuition fees

UK and EU: £2,100 per module, £3,150 MLitt dissertation module
Overseas: £4,310 per module, £6,470 MLitt dissertation module

Application deadline

30 June 2020 for September 2020 entry; 30 November 2020 for January 2021 entry. Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé. This should include your personal details with a history of your education and employment to date.
  • personal statement (200 to 300 words)
  • sample of academic work (2,000 words)
  • two original signed references (academic or professional)
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates
  • evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

Course information

The PGDip/MLitt in Bible and the Contemporary World is a part-time distance learning programme aimed at both lay people seeking personal development and clergy seeking continued professional development.

Find out more about studying Bible and the Contemporary World.


  • Gain an understanding of how public issues and culture both shape and are shaped by Christian theology, biblical interpretation and practice.
  • Join an international and interdenominational group of students, most of whom are lay people.
  • A residential study week in St Andrews starts each module with lectures and seminar discussions and allows you to meet your fellow participants and tutors.
  • Opens possibilities for future doctoral work in fields such as practical theology or for those who seek to deepen their critical thinking in careers (often in the voluntary sector) that have a religious dimension. 

Teaching format

Each semester begins with a residential study week held at St Mary's College, the School of Divinity at the University of St Andrews. A typical residential study week includes lectures, seminars, sessions on using the Moodle and MMS internet platforms, and study skills training. It is also a good opportunity for you to meet your distance learning peers and tutors in person.

Attendance is required at each study week from Monday through Wednesday, but students are encouraged to stay for the remainder of the week. You will need to pay for your own travel and accommodation costs to attend these mandatory study weeks. 

Both MLitt and PGDip students take three taught modules over the course of their programme. Each module comprises 15 weeks of study (typically divided into four units) and focuses on independent learning.

In each unit of a module, students are supplied a number of scholarly articles and extracts from books which are supplemented by two written lectures available online in digital format; you will also have access to the library's extensive online subscriptions of journals and ebooks. Instead of seminars, you will participate in online bulletin board discussions with your peers (not held in real time).

Students typically write four essays for each module (one for each unit) and receive written feedback. Students will have one personal tutorial (usually via online video messaging or telephone) with a tutor per module where they can discuss their recent essay.

The MLitt programme is followed by a 15,000-word dissertation submitted at the end of two years of study. Students are assigned an individual supervisor for their dissertation, and meetings with supervisors are normally held via online video messaging or telephone.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.


Each module typically comprises:

  • online lectures and seminars
  • 100% coursework assessment.

Students will take the modules in different orders depending on their point of entry.

For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2019–2020 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2020/2021 entry.

Semester 1

Residential study week in St Andrews: Monday 31 August to Friday 4 September 2020

  • Theology and the Arts: its relationship with a broad range of different art forms (such as literature, music and the visual arts). 

Semester 2

Residential study week in St Andrews: Monday 18 to Friday 22 January 2021

  • The Bible and Contemporary Issues: explores a variety of hermeneutical approaches that have been proposed to make intelligent connections between the Christian scriptures, events, trends and cultural assumptions.

Semester 3

Module information and residential study week dates are still to be advised.  

Semester 1

Residential study week in St Andrews: Monday 18 to Friday 22 January 2021

  • The Bible and Contemporary Issues: explores a variety of hermeneutical approaches that have been proposed to make intelligent connections between the Christian scriptures, events, trends and cultural assumptions.

Semester 2 and Semester 3

Module information and residential study week dates are still to be advised.

MLitt students take a fourth module for their dissertation, and attend its associated study week in St Andrews. Dissertations will be supervised by members of the teaching staff who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. The completed dissertation of 15,000 words must be submitted at the end of the course.

Those on the PGDip programme will finish their studies after the third semester, and suitably qualified candidates will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma. 

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2020/2021 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at a visiting day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.

Upcoming postgraduate visiting days:

  • Wednesday 11 March 2020

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Virtual events

Join our Admissions team for one of our upcoming virtual events. During these events, you can find out more about studying at St Andrews and what it will do for your future.


Conferences and events

The School of Divinity regularly hosts international conferences and smaller symposia on themes across the field of biblical and theological studies.


Recent Graduate Discount
The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews. 

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships

After the MLitt

Research degrees

In addition to the MLitt, the School offers a two-year residential Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree option in Bible and the Contemporary World.

Many Divinity graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews.

PhD in Divinity


Students on this programme have gone on to work in the charitable sector and to further studies. Previous students have had professional occupations in:

  • education
  • law
  • business
  • administration
  • charities
  • ministry.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

Contact information

School of Divinity
University of St Andrews
St Mary's College
South Street
St Andrews
KY16 9JU

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2841

Divinity website


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online (PDF, 84 KB).