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.
If you started this programme in 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 Biblical Studies MA page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.
These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. 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.
Standard entry grades: AAAB
Minimum entry grades: AABB
Gateway entry grades: BBBB
Standard entry grades: AAA
Minimum entry grades: ABB
Standard entry grades: 36 (HL 6,6,5)
Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5)
We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.
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 entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.
If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English language qualification.
No previous knowledge of Biblical Studies or Theology is required.
Faculty entry requirements
You must also meet the Faculty of Arts minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold.
SQA National 5 (B) or equivalent in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:
Computing Science or equivalent
Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
GCSE (B or 5) in English, English Language or English Literature, and one GCSE (B or 5) from the following:
Computing Science or equivalent
Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty. 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.
The University publishes its expected timetables before the advising process, and aims to provide each student with a personalised timetable once module choices have been made and confirmed during matriculation.
The School of Divinity has enjoyed an international reputation for teaching excellence since it was founded in 1539.
The University of St Andrews as a whole was voted top in the UK for student academic experience in The National Student Survey 2019 as 95% of St Andrews final year students gave the University top marks for the quality of the learning and teaching experience.
The University has secured a TEF Gold Award for the quality of teaching and the undergraduate experience.
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.
Students take the following compulsory first-year modules:
Old Testament 1: 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.
New Testament 1: Jesus and the Gospels: considers the historical contexts of the New Testament texts, including political, socio-economic and religious factors within the Greco-Roman world and Early Judaism.
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 2: Wisdom, Psalms, Apocalyptic and Apocryphal Literature: an introduction to the literature and theology of the period of Israel’s history from exile to the consolidation of the canon.
New Testament 2: Paul and the Epistles: examines the 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
Creation and Chaos in the Old Testament and Ancient Near East
Epistle to the Hebrews: English Text
Hebrew Prose and Poetry
Reading in the Greek New Testament
The Gospel of Mark: Greek Text
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 available for the current academic year can be found in the module catalogue.
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.
You will be taught by a research-led teaching team with expertise and knowledge of Biblical Studies. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher 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 webpage.
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 visit the common reporting scale webpage.
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.
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:
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
journalists with the national and religious press.
Other Divinity graduates have gone on to become:
trainee manager at a national bank
art gallery assistant
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.
Divinity students may 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.
From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.
Students of Biblical Studies may be interested in joining the St Mary’s College Society. The society organises social events for the staff and students of the School of Divinity. The Society is very active with Friday lunches, pub evenings, the annual dinner, the annual ball and the Christmas lunch. They also have a charitable and spiritual role within the college, raising money for different charities throughout the year.
The School of Divinity is located in St Mary’s College, one of the oldest and most historic parts of the University, where theology has been taught for over 500 years. Today, teaching takes place in seminar rooms and lecture theatres equipped with the latest technology both within St Mary’s and around the University. The Divinity library is housed in the historic King James Library, and students have their own common room in the former Principal’s House.
The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.
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).