The MA (Hons) in Theological Studies provides an introduction to the rich theological traditions of Christianity, covering the history of Christian theology from the early church to the modern world. You will explore ways in which Christianity is being expressed and lived out today in different areas of the world, and you will learn about the distinctive challenges to faith presented by modern secular culture.
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.
If you started this programme in 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 Theological 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.
St Andrews students must meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.
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 Theological Studies is a four-year course run by the School of Divinity . The course combines three distinct but closely related fields of study: theology, church history and practical theology.
Modules in theology consider key topics (God, salvation, Jesus Christ, Trinity, creation) in relation to the contexts in which they emerged and developed throughout Christian history, and some of the key thinkers who developed those concepts. They also consider some of the distinctive challenges to faith in the modern world.
Modules in practical theology explore ways in which Christianity is being expressed and lived out today. They include the study of:
worship, spirituality and the political involvement of the churches in contemporary Britain
political ethics (economic justice and political power, ecological issues)
personal relationships (marriage, sexuality, friendship).
Alongside Theological 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 courses on primary texts of Christian theology. You will also be able to choose from a range of specialist subject modules in areas including (but not limited to):
particular theologians in their context
Final year students must also complete a 10,000-word dissertation on a Theological 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 webpage.
Students take the following compulsory first-year modules:
Theology: Issues and History: addresses a variety of themes within Christian theology. Each theme will be approached with a view to its biblical roots and historical development, its critical reception and restatement in the modern period, and its significance for contemporary theological reflection.
Practical Theology and Ethics: introduces students to the work of a number of practical theologians as well as key concepts from the history of Christian ethics, such as natural law, divine command, virtue ethics, the relations of scripture to ethics, and political theology.
Students will take the following compulsory second-year modules:
Philosophical Theology: introduces students to the relations between philosophy and theology in thought about God, including themes in metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of language.
The Early and Medieval Church: History, Beliefs and Practices: explores key themes in the organisation, practice and beliefs of the early and medieval church, focusing mostly on the period from the first to the ninth centuries.
If you decide to take Theological Studies in your third and fourth years, you choose from a wide variety of advanced options aimed to bring you in contact with the primary texts of Christian theology.
Theological Studies Honours modules which have been offered in previous years include:
A Quest for God: The Religious World of Dante
Medieval Monastic Spirituality
Reading in Reformation and Early Modern Theology
Reading in Theological Ethics
Themes and Texts in Christian-Buddhist Dialogue
Theology and Pastoral Care.
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 (10 to 15 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
undertaking assigned and recommended readings
preparing for examinations.
You will be taught by a research-led teaching team with expertise and knowledge of Theological 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 Theological 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).