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Faculty of Divinity


Anglican Studies

Course Coordinators: Dr Jeremy Morris and Professor Richard Rex

The purpose of the pathway in Anglican Studies is to offer students the opportunity to pursue advanced study and introductory research into the history and theology of Anglicanism.  Cambridge provides an unsurpassed environment for study and research in this field.  As the alma mater of so many of the leading figures in the history of the Church of England, not least in the era of the English Reformation, it has itself played a crucial role in the story.  The research resources of the University Library are supported by excellent libraries and special collections in the colleges, and the human resources of the Faculty of Divinity are supplemented by additional expertise in the Cambridge Theological Federation, particularly in the Anglican colleges of Ridley Hall and Westcott House.

The pathway has two modules.  The background module, in the Michaelmas Term, provides an introduction to the Anglican tradition by examining four crucial epochs in its history: its origin in the English Reformation; the crisis of the seventeenth century which saw the abolition and restoration of the Church of England; the revivals of the nineteenth century; and the ecclesiastical dimension of the twentieth-century process of Decolonisation, which led to the emergence of global Anglicanism, or Anglicanisms, from the imperial or commonwealth diaspora of the Church of England.

In the Lent Term, the focus will turn more closely to the self-understanding of the Church of England and the Anglican tradition.  Each of the seminars in the theological module will focus on one or two key figures who reflected in an explicit way on the nature of the Church in general and of the Church of England or the Anglican churches in particular.

The authors and readings chosen for the modules may vary from year to year, and will be confirmed by the end of the Easter Term preceding a student’s commencement on the course.  The authors selected for the seminars in the first year of the programme will be as follows:

History of Anglicanism: Michaelmas Term 2020


  • Forming and Reforming the Church of England: Matthew Parker and the Puritans
  • The Boundaries of Anglicanism: Richard Baxter and Jeremy Taylor
  • The Age of Revivals: the Evangelical Revival and the Oxford Movement: Hannah More and John Keble
  • Decolonisation and the Emergence of Global Anglicanism: Samuel Azariah and Janani Luwum


Theology of Anglicanism: Lent Term 2021


  • Richard Hooker: between Rome and Geneva?
  • William Wake: Anglicans and Gallicans
  • William Wilberforce and F.D. Maurice: the Nature of the Church
  • George Bull (1634-1710) and Gilbert Burnet (1643-1715): Doctrine and Diversity


Study and Examination Requirements


Students accepted for the pathway in Anglican Studies will be expected to participate in both modules of study and to offer two essays from the list of essays that will be set each year.  Essay topics will include but will not be restricted to the authors and texts discussed in the seminars.  It would be usual (though not compulsory) to offer one essay from the ‘History’ list and the other from the ‘Theology’ list, but it will be permissible to offer both essays from the same list.  Students will be expected to offer their dissertation on some aspect of the Church of England, of one or more churches in communion with it, or of the Anglican tradition.  No particular exercise or language is prescribed for the Anglican Studies pathway.  Students will be expected to select a language or exercise from those available under the aegis of the M.Phil. in Theology and Religious Studies.  Introductory German or Latin, Theological Methods, or early modern palaeography may be appropriate choices.


Additional study opportunities


Students will be welcome to attend senior research seminars in the Divinity Faculty and cognate faculties.  Within the Divinity Faculty, the seminars in the History of Christianity, Christian Theology, and the ‘D Society’ series are likely to be of particular interest.  But religion is studied under various aspects in several other faculties and departments (such as English, POLIS, etc), which can provide further opportunities for broadening perspectives and deepening knowledge at research seminars.  In addition, students will be encouraged to attend relevant undergraduate lectures and lecture courses in the Divinity Faculty and the neighbouring History Faculty.




What prerequisites are required to take this course?


A first-class or strong II.1 degree in Theology, Religious Studies, History, or a cognate discipline in the humanities involving textual and contextual study.


Will you accept students on the Lent Term module who have not taken MT module?


Yes. Students pursuing other pathways within the M.Phil. will be welcome to participate in the Anglican Studies seminar in either term.


Supervisor of essays and dissertation


Professor Rex and Dr Morris will be available to supervise students within their areas of expertise, but in such a broad field it may often be appropriate to involve other scholars working in the University or the Cambridge Theological Federation.


Essay Questions


History of Anglicanism


Why was ‘discipline’ such a contentious subject in the Elizabethan Church of England?

Do the concepts of ‘moderation’ and ‘compromise’ help us to understand the situation of the Church of England under Elizabeth I?

How important was ‘Calvinism’ in the Church of England, 1559-1625?

Assess the relative importance of national and universal perspectives in the self-image of the Elizabethan Church of England.

Why was ecclesiology such a divisive issue in Stuart England?

‘The Savoy Conference merely made explicit what had always been the case, namely that “Puritanism” had no place in the Church of England.’ Discuss.

Was the Restoration Settlement of 1662 the triumph of ‘Anglicanism’?

‘It was only in the seventeenth century, not in the sixteenth century, that the Church of England started to establish for itself a distinctive religious identity.’ Discuss.

Was More’s concept of ‘Practical Piety’ characteristically Anglican?

Why was Hannah More’s call for the reform of public morality so popular?

Is it convincing to argue that popular religious writers such as Hannah More were more important in the history of Evangelical Anglicanism than were Evangelical theologians?

What is the role of Romanticism in Keble’s understanding of Anglicanism?

Why was Keble never tempted to become a Roman Catholic?

How significant was Keble’s view of Church of England for the subsequent history of Anglicanism?

How centre were the categories of race, caste and nationality to the episcopal understanding of Samuel Azariah?

Did Samuel Azariah’s career demonstrate the incompatibility of Christianity and Indian nationalism?

Assess Samuel Azariah’s importance in the modern history of Anglicanism.

A classic case of the conflict of Church and State – is this a fair reading of the significance of Janani Luwum?

Assess the importance of the East African revival in the response of the Ugandan Church to Idi Amin.

How significant was the life and reputation of Janani Luwum in the shaping of Anglicanism in Africa at the end of the twentieth century?


Theology of Anglicanism


To what extent should Hooker be regarded as a theologian in the ‘Reformed’ tradition?

‘Hooker was indeed a political, rather than a theological, thinker.’ Discuss.

Can Hooker properly be characterised as the ‘Father of Anglicanism’?

‘Hooker’s treatise Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity offers a subtle yet powerful critique of a certain kind of Protestant biblicism.’ Discuss.

Is the concept of ‘Latitudinarianism’ helpful in discussing the Church of England in the decades around 1700?

Was Calvinism on the retreat in the Church of England, 1662-1722?

Why did the doctrine of the Trinity become such a sensitive issue within the Church of England in the late 17th and early 18th centuries?

From what, if anything, was the Church of England ‘in danger’ in the later 17th century?

How influential was Gilbert Burnet in shaping the self-image of the Church of England?

‘Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’. How satisfactorily does this sum up the ‘Bangorian Controversy’?

‘A church within a church’: Was this a necessary consequence of William Wilberforce’s view of the prevailing religious system?

‘Evangelical piety did not depend on evangelical doctrine’.  Discuss with reference to William Wilberforce’s understanding of the Established Church.

What was William Wilberforce’s significance for the shaping of modern Anglicanism?

‘Strong on ideal, weak on history’ – is this a fair assessment of F.D. Maurice’s view of the Church of England?

Discuss the relative positions of the Bible and philosophy in F.D. Maurice’s ecclesiology.

Was Maurice the fountainhead of Anglican social theology?

How important was the concept of the ‘national church’ for William Temple’s understanding of Anglicanism?

Was the Church of England, in William Temple’s understanding, a social movement as well as a community of belief?

Some have argued that Temple’s view of the Church of England was an analogical correlate of the Welfare State.  Is this true, or was it the other way round – or neither?

What is the significance of The Gospel and the Catholic Church in modern Anglicanism?

How successfully does Michael Ramsey marry Biblical theology and High Church ecclesiology?

What was the ecumenical significance of Michael Ramsey’s understanding of Anglicanism?