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Faculty of Divinity

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MPhil in Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion

The MPhil in Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion, which is available on a nine-month full-time or a twenty-one-month part-time basis, is a Masters programme that offers the opportunity for advanced study across the full range of subject areas represented in our internationally acclaimed Faculty.  For some students, it provides the springboard for going on to a PhD, while for others it is preparation for work in a wide variety of sectors, including journalism, charities, NGOs, policy research, consultancy, education, law, and government.  The MPhil cohort can include students coming straight from an undergraduate degree or returning to university after a couple of years, as well as people further advanced in their careers or even some who have taken retirement.

Why do the MPhil at Cambridge

The Cambridge MPhil is a demanding and rigorous nine-month programme that offers an excellent preparation for doctoral research and a rewarding educational experience its own right.  Its modular structure allows for either a specialised focus or an interdisciplinary approach, and the modules are taught through small-group seminars that put students in direct contact with the Faculty's academic staff.  This direct access to specialist academic staff is of the essence of Cambridge education.  The Faculty of Divinity itself regularly appears at or near the top of national and international rankings - for example, in 2023 topping both the Guardian and the Complete University Guide tables for UK theology and religion departments and figuring second in Europe and fifth in the world as judged by Edurank, and second in Europe and fourth in the world as judged by QS.

Programme structure

Each student offers two taught modules (for each of which they submit for assessment an essay of not more than 5,000 words), together with a language or an alternative skills exercise (for which they are assessed by either a timed examination or an appropriate piece of coursework), and a dissertation (of not more than 15,000 words - see below).

Taught modules are normally delivered through four two-hour seminars over the course of a term, and all modules are taught in one or other of the first two terms of the academic year.  Students take one module in the Michaelmas Term and one in the Lent Term.

The modules are all offered under the aegis of specific pathways, but some modules are relevant to more than one pathway.  Students who opt not to pursue a specific pathway can choose modules from different pathways subject to the approval of the MPhil Programme Director and providing that they have the relevant skills required to engage with them.

A student's choice of modules, language or exercise, and dissertation subject is constrained to a greater or lesser extent by their choice of pathway (if relevant).  Please refer to the specific pathway pages for further details.  All pathways require students to take a pathway-specific module in the Michaelmas Term, but some allow more flexibility about the module taken in the Lent Term.  Some pathways require students to take a particular language or exercise, while others allow wider choice.

Pathways and Modules

Further details about the requirements of pathways and about the modules available within them in the academic year 2023-24 are found via the following links:

Please note that the precise modules offered within the MPhil programme can vary from year to year according to the availability of academic staff and the evolution of their research interests.


The dissertation is the principal element within a student's overall portfolio of assessed work.  Of not more than 15,000 words in length, the dissertation is the fruit of a student's own original research, conducted under the guidance of a expert academic supervisor.  It is not essential to have identified the precise topic for the dissertation before commencing the programme, but it is important to have given some thought to the matter and to have identified the area within which the research will be conducted.  This should be explained in the research proposal (up to 500 words) which forms part of the application process.  Students who already have a well defined idea for their dissertation are encouraged to set this out in their research proposal.  Dissertation proposals and titles, which are subject to the approval of the Degree Committee, are refined during the first term of the programme with a view to being finalised no later than early in the second term.  The dissertation project should be considered as a year-long endeavour, and no left until the last term.

Research seminars 

MPhil students are expected to attend the senior research seminar associated with their area of study.  These seminars meet regularly during term and bring academics from Cambridge, the UK, and further afield to read and discuss papers.  There are currently nine research seminars.  Students are free to audit undergraduate lectures, and (timetable permitting) may attend and participate in other MPhil modules, with the agreement of the module leader.

Entry requirements

General requirements

All applicants are expected to have achieved a high 2.1 BA Honours degree, or better, in a relevant subject or major (eg Theology, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Classics, History, Social Anthropology).  For this purpose, 'a good 2.1' means marks of at least 67% or a GPA of at least 3.7 (or equivalent in other higher educations systems), and relevance will depend on the specific pathway that an applicant wishes to pursue.

All applicants should have excellent skills in written English.  Applicants whose first language is not English must meet the University's English language requirement: IELTS (Academic) 7.5 total (min. 7.0 each skill) or TOEFL Internet scores totalling 110 (min. 25 each skill).

Subject-specific requirements

New Testament and Early Christianity applicants are required to have at least two years study (basic and intermediate level) of New Testament Greek.

Old Testament applicants must have knowledge of the relevant biblical languages, notably biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

Philosophy of Religion applicants must have a strong philosophical background and relevant theological knowledge.

Religions of Late Antiquity applicants must have knowledge of Greek or Latin.

World Christianities applicants need a first degree in Theology, Religious Studies, History, Anthropology, or some other discipline involving contemporary cross-cultural study.

Part-time Route 

The part-time route to the MPhil in Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion is pursued over two consecutive academic years.  The scope and content of the programme are the same as for the full-time route, with the taught elements usually taken in the first-year and the dissertation in the second (though there is flexibility for one of the three taught elements of the programme to be taken in the second year, depending on circumstances).

Part-time postgraduate study at Cambridge is not envisaged as 'distance learning'.  While part-time students are not subject to the 'residence requirement' that applies to full-time students, there is an attendance requirement for part-time study.  For more information on part-time postgraduate study in the Faculty of Divinity, follow this link.

Application process

Applications for this MPhil are made through the Cambridge Applicant Portal, which is best accessed from this page:

As well as completing the form available on the portal, applicants will need to upload the following documents:

Academic transcripts

Two academic references

CV (resume)

Evidence of competence in the English language (if needed)

In addition, applicants for this MPhil should submit a research proposal of around 500 words, together with a sample of written work that total no more than 6,000 words.  Click here for advice on writing a research proposal.

While the programme application deadline is 16th May 2024, applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their applications as early as possible to reduce the risk of  disappointment.  Please note that the deadline for those who wish to be considered for the award of funding is 5 December 2023.

Funding opportunities

Click here to find out about funding opportunities available within the Faculty.

The MPhil Programme Team

Co-Directors (2023-24):   Professor Richard Rex,; Professor Simeon Zahl,

Postgraduate Studies Co-ordinator: Ms Katy Williams,