Biblical Studies MA (Honours) 2023 entry

The MA (Hons) in Biblical Studies provides an opportunity to explore the profound influence that the Christian and Jewish Scriptures have had on Western civilisation. Your studies will focus on the Old Testament and New Testament, but you will also encounter a large number of other Jewish and Christian writings from these periods, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

The MA course is particularly suited for those wanting a wider range of options across Arts subjects, but who still want to give most of their attention to divinity. Many students choose to take biblical studies alongside subjects such as ancient history or classical studies in order to study important texts within the wider context of the ancient world, or with English in order to discover the way in which biblical ideas and themes have found their way into literature. 

UCAS code
Start date
September 2023
End date
September 2027
Four years full time
School of Divinity
“I love the fact that students are given the room to explore options before concentrating on specific areas of studies. I have been exposed to topics that I did not know would interest me so much. They provoke my interest, satisfy my curiosity, and make me think. This University isn’t just four years of your life, it is a life in four years!”
- Hong Kong

Entry requirements

The University offers different entry requirements, depending on your background. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject-specific entry requirements as outlined on their pages.

  • Standard entry grades:
    Minimum entry grades:
    Gateway entry grades:
    Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades, but meet the University's contextual criteria, may be interested in one of the University’s Gateway programmes.
  • Standard entry grades:
    Minimum entry grades:
  • Standard entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,6,5)
    Minimum entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,5,5)

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

  • SQA National 5 (B) in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing science
    • Geography
    • Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.
  • GCSE (5) in English language or English literature, and one GCSE (5) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing Science
    • Geography
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.

Other qualifications

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No previous knowledge of biblical studies or theology is required.

Alternative study options

Study abroad

Divinity students can apply to participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad site. 

International applicants

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability. Find out more about approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

The MA (Hons) in Biblical Studies is a four-year course run by the School of Divinity. The course is designed to introduce you to the complexities and wonders of reading biblical texts: contexts, content, methods and hermeneutics (the reading of ancient texts in a modern world). 

In your first two years, you will take compulsory modules focusing on both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament modules focus on the history, religion and culture of Israel, and incorporate a wide range of texts from prophetic, hymnic, wisdom and apocalyptic literature. 

The New Testament modules focus on Jesus and the Gospels, Paul’s letters and the rest of the New Testament writings in the context of the history and theology of early Christianity. In addition, you will study at least one biblical language – either Hebrew or Greek, or both – which will provide a basis for Honours-level exegesis courses. 

Alongside biblical studies, in the first year of your studies you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year, you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised.  
The skills you gain in detailed analytical study will prepare you for your final two years, during which you will take advanced exegesis and hermeneutics modules. You will also be able to choose from a range of specialist subject modules in areas including (but not limited to): 

  • biblical themes such as monarchy 
  • extra-biblical texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls 
  • further languages such as Biblical Aramaic 
  • New Testament texts in Greek or English 
  • Old Testament texts in Hebrew or English. 

Final year students must also complete a 10,000-word dissertation on a biblical studies topic chosen in consultation with teaching staff. 

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page. 

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page.


In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours), you will take the required modules in biblical studies alongside modules in at least one other subject. 

Typically, you will take one to two biblical studies modules per semester during your first two years, and three or four biblical studies modules per year during your third and fourth year (known as Honours). Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system. 

Students take the following compulsory first-year modules:

  • Old Testament: Torah and Prophets: introduces the life, literature and religion of Ancient Israel, with particular consideration of the main literary types of the Old Testament literature.
  • Jesus and the Gospels: considers the historical contexts of the New Testament texts, then studies the Gospels with a view to determining the particular interests of their authors, and with a view to assessing their portraits of Jesus in relation to the historical Jesus.

And at least one of:

  • Hebrew 1: Introduction to Hebrew Language: aims to give students a sufficient knowledge of the grammar and vocabulary of Old Testament Hebrew to be able to read and analyse prescribed texts.
  • New Testament Greek 1: introduces the essential grammar, morphology, and vocabulary of New Testament Greek which will continue into New Testament Greek 2.

Students will take the following compulsory second-year modules:

  • Old Testament: Writings and Beyond A (English Texts): an introduction to the literature and theology of the period of Israel’s history from exile to the consolidation of the canon.
  • Paul and the Epistles A (English Texts): examines the literature and developing theology of the New Testament, paying particular attention to the issue of unity and diversity, and to the themes of Christology and soteriology.

And at least one of:

  • Hebrew 2: aims to extend students' skills in reading the Hebrew Bible and in the techniques of textual criticism and of exegesis.
  • New Testament Greek 2: continues from New Testament Greek 1 and introduces the second half of the essential grammar, morphology, and vocabulary of New Testament Greek.

If you decide to take biblical studies in your third and fourth years, you choose from a wide variety of advanced options in exegesis and hermeneutics.

Biblical studies Honours modules which have been offered in previous years include:

  • Ancient Jewish Literature from 1 Enoch to the Mishnah
  • Biblical Aramaic
  • Creation and Chaos in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East
  • Epistle to the Hebrews: English Text
  • Gospel of Mark: Greek Text or English Text
  • Gospel of Matthew: Greek Text or English Text
  • Hebrew Prose and Poetry
  • Hebrew Readings
  • Johannine Literature and Theology: English Text
  • King and Messiah in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and Second Temple Judaism
  • Readings in Early Christian Greek Texts.

In fourth year, students also undertake a 10,000-word dissertation on a topic of their choice. The School provides significant support for the dissertation, with a breakdown of the assessment into different stages and a programme of seminars to assist in the development of advanced research and communication skills.

The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.


Teaching in the first and second years is mainly by lectures (10 to 100 students), supplemented by regular small-group tutorials (8 to 12 students). 

At Honours level, greater emphasis is put on individual study and on students taking a major role in preparing for and conducting seminars (5 to 15 students). 

When not attending lectures, tutorials and workshops, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study.

Typically, this will involve: 

  • working on individual and group projects 
  • undertaking research in the library 
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations 
  • preparing for examinations. 

All sub-honours modules are assessed by 50% coursework and 50% written examinations. At Honours level, at least 50% assessed work is coursework, with some modules including no exam element at all. 

Examinations are held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand. 
The School aims to provide feedback on every assessment within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments. 

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

You will be taught by a research-led teaching team with expertise and knowledge of biblical studies. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken tutor training may also contribute to the teaching of tutorials under the supervision of the module leader. 

You can find contact information for all divinity staff on the School of Divinity website

In addition to your studies in the School of Divinity, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University. 

The University’s student services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.  

The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long-term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.


Tuition fees have yet to be set.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

Channel Islands, Isle of Man

EU and overseas

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Joint Honours degrees

You can also take Biblical Studies as part of a joint Honours degree in which you will take core modules of your chosen subjects.

Course name UCAS code
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and Biblical StudiesVV16
Master of Arts (Honours) Arabic and Biblical StudiesABS1
Master of Arts (Honours) Art History and Biblical StudiesVV36
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and Classical StudiesVQ68
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and Comparative LiteratureVQ62
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and EconomicsLV16
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and EnglishQVH6
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and Film StudiesVP63
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and FrenchRV16
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and GermanRV26
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and GreekQV76
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and HebrewQV46
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and International RelationsVL62
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and MathematicsVG61
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and Medieval HistoryVVP1
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and PhilosophyVVM6

You can take Biblical Studies as part of a joint Honours degree alongside one of the following subjects.



A degree in divinity gives you the opportunity for significant intellectual and personal development, and you will acquire a wide range of transferable skills. Those who have studied theology or biblical studies have learnt a range of skills including: 

  • textual 
  • historical 
  • analytical 
  • creative 
  • interpersonal.  

Graduates are in demand with employers who need rigorous but flexible thinkers with a broad knowledge base and an understanding of people and their religious and social contexts.  

Recent graduates from the School of Divinity have, for example, become: 

  • graduate students in the UK and abroad 
  • religious studies teachers 
  • lay chaplains at schools 
  • ordained ministers 
  • journalists with the national and religious press. 

Other divinity graduates have gone on to become: 

  • trainee manager at a national bank 
  • art gallery assistant 
  • solicitor 
  • theatre director 
  • college principal 
  • business consultant 
  • social worker 
  • wine taster. 

Graduates have also gone on to postgraduate degrees in related areas here and at other top universities in the UK and across the world. 

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

What to do next

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School of Divinity
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