“Religion is of huge importance in the world, as it affects people's beliefs and actions. The Cambridge course suited me because I have interests in multiple subject areas and this degree was able to accommodate all of them.”
Caspar, first year student
Critical and academic
Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion* is a rigorous and thought-provoking degree that cultivates skills from across the arts and humanities. Textual Analysis forms the core of the degree. You will evaluate historic and contemporary texts in the form of scripture, literature, historical sources, philosophical treatises and academic debates. You will learn how to critique the material and form well-developed and reasoned arguments in both verbal and written forms.
Religion is playing an increasingly important role in state politics, international relations, and social actions. The fostering of religious understanding has immense implications for individual, national and international well-being. By developing your knowledge of religions you will take valuable skills into whatever career you choose.
Relevant to all
Whether your focus is an individual search for meaning, or fundamental issues of war and peace, freedom and bondage, good and evil, this degree is about the relentless pursuit of a deeper, truer understanding. You do not have to be religious to study for this degree: our undergraduates belong to all religions and none. What you do need is a passion for the importance of religion in the world and by studying it you have the opportunity to develop your thinking in this area and express your views. See some student profiles below that demonstrate that there is no typical Theology student.
Religion intersects with numerous other disciplines across the academic spectrum. You can combine an interest in religion with History, Sociology, Philosophy, Literature, Politics, Psychology or Science.
*The new title will apply to all students applying in 2016 and starting the course on or after 1 October 2017. Candidates starting the course prior to that date will continue to take papers under the title of Theological and Religious Studies.
There is no typical Theology student. Our students come from diverse backgrounds. Some are religious, others have no personal faith. They come from a range of schools across the UK and further afield. Our students have studied a range of subjects at school or college. Here, some of them explain why they chose to study Theology at Cambridge:
NIAMH studied English Literature, Music, and History at A-level and German at AS-level
Before coming to Cambridge, I had never studied any Theology or Religious Studies. I had grown up going to Church, but I had never really realized that studying Theology at university was an option until the summer before I applied. I was originally going to apply for English or History, and it was my parents who suggested I look at the Cambridge Theology degree. The course was so flexible and I would have the option of studying religion, such a massive part of not only my own life but also of world history and culture, from a variety of different standpoints, drawing on the subjects I had loved so much at school: literature, history, languages, sociology, philosophy, just to name a few. I went to some taster days and study schools and became really interested in some of the theologians we learnt about there, and began to do my own reading around the subject. Throughout my time at Cambridge and the amazingly diverse course offered here I have been able to tailor my paper choices to the areas of Theology I am most interested in, including New Testament Greek, Christian Theology, and a dissertation focusing on religious themes in literature. I am so glad I decided to study Theology and Religious Studies; not only have I developed a wealth of different skills but I have begun to delve into a field that will continue to interest me and affect my life long after my degree has finished.
PETER studied Maths, Economics, Politics and Religious Studies at A-level
I chose to read Theology, Religion and the Philosophy of Religion at Cambridge simply because I love the subject. Being able to delve into familiar material that I have held as truth, in a new way, and look at critical approaches to it, as well as different layers of interpretation is not only academically stimulating, but actually really fun! Coming from a faith background, I often heard that it would ‘challenge my faith’, but faith that is not tested is not faith at all. People also questioned whether I embarked on the course to eventually become the ‘first Black Archbishop of Canterbury’, another amusing hypothesis that comes with the Tripos. In the UK, I feel we are so fortunate that our degrees and professions don’t necessarily need to match, unless we are going into something very technical that requires loads of prior knowledge! With this, it meant that I could choose a discipline out of pure interest. What I really enjoy about the Tripos too is that it engages and grapples with a lot of conceptual and philosophical content that I enjoy in the subject. It is of testament to the degree structure that I have peers who are interested in completely different areas of Theology, Religion and the Philosophy of Religion. Though inextricably linked, these three areas are different in their own right, and cater to each student’s interest. Although the oldest degree at Cambridge, it’s clear that the Tripos stays relevant. Rarely do you get the opportunity to be taught in a subject that you are genuinely interested in by vanguards in the field, for three years!
AMY studied Maths, Chemistry, Philosophy and Ethics at A-level and German at AS-level
When choosing GCSEs, A Levels or a degree, I have always chosen my favourite subjects even if they seemed to have no direct relevance to each other. This tactic lead me to choose Maths, Chemistry, Philosophy and Ethics, and German AS at Sixth Form. When considering a university course, I realised that although Chemistry and Maths were fun, the questions and ideas I looked at in RS were much more significant and interesting to study and as religion seems to be an ever important part of society, so I looked into theology.
As someone who had always done a mix of subjects at school, the scope of Theology as a subject was really appealing, especially at Cambridge where the course is so diverse and you are free to choose most of your modules from Year 1. You can study language, history, literature, philosophy, biblical studies, sociology, theology or religious studies. Although there were lots of areas of TRS that I hadn’t studied before, e.g. I’d not done history since year 9 and never really liked English Literature at school, I still had an interest in these fields and when combined with the general theme of religion and belief, I knew they would be really interesting.
Despite ditching science, Maths and Chemistry (and German AS) have been really useful, especially in the language paper as you have to learn and understand lots of grammatical rules and use them logically to solve the puzzle of translating a Greek sentence.