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Religious and Theological Studies (BA)

  • V603

3 years (full-time) / n/a (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)

Religion has been part of human experience from the earliest traces of human existence up to the present day. It has been the way most cultures have sought to express their understanding of the purpose of life and the foundation of personal and social behaviour. The study of religion is therefore rich and exciting, and as a student of Religious and Theological Studies at Cardiff, you will have the opportunity to explore your own and other peoples' religious history and culture, and some of the fundamental questions of existence. The School of Religious and Theological Studies is a flourishing centre of research at the cutting edge of the subject. All of your lecturers and tutors will be active researchers in their fields and inform their teaching with the latest state of knowledge.

Religious and Theological Studies

Key Facts

UCAS Code V603
Duration 3 years
How to apply
Typical places available The School admits 260 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes
Typical applications received 1,650
Scholarships & Bursaries
Typical A-level offer AAB-BBB
Admissions Tutors Dr Will Johnson
Tel Number 029 2087 6698
Email address
School website

The BA in Religious and Theological Studies (Single and Joint Honours) provides students with a critical understanding of religious and/or theological studies with relevance to the historical development of religion(s) in contemporary societies. The programme encourages students to explore religions and theologies in relation to a wide range of historical, theoretical, and social issues, and according to a range of methodological approaches (incl. textual hermeneutics, language study, gender theories, cultural and theoretical anthropology, conflict studies, media, globalisation, etc.). The programme is ‘research-led’: tutors thereby draw on a range of approaches to studying religion and theology, which do not claim to be exhaustive, but rather are intended to equip students with the skills needed in order to contextualise religious discourse as a way of understanding the role of religion and theology in, for example, the formation of group and individual identities. The wide range of optional modules offers great breadth, but also enables students who wish to specialise after the first year to focus on such areas as Islamic Studies, Asian Religions, Religious Studies, Biblical Studies and Christian Theology.

In Year One, you will take 80 credits in Religious and Theological Studies in which you will:

  • study religion through texts, poetry, art, film, biographies, fieldwork and drama (Introduction to the Study of Religion 1 and 2). A series of research-led case studies on issues such as blasphemy and slavery introduce key ideas about ritual, gender and place that provide a dynamic foundation for further study across a range of modules offered in Yrs 2 and 3
  • acquire broad knowledge of the history of Christian theology (History of the Christian Church) and Christian theological thought (Introduction to the Bible)
  • acquire the basic skills required for the academic study of religions and theology (how to read a scholarly article, construction of essays, referencing, note-taking, use of evidence and sources – all addressed in the modules outlined above)

You will take another 40 credits in a subject of your choice

  • including the option to begin the study of religious texts in their original languages (e.g. Introduction to Sanskrit, Introduction to Arabic, Introduction to Hebrew, Introduction to New Testament Greek)
  • alternatively, you may take a course in a wide range of other subjects, such as Philosophy, English, History, or a modern language

In Year Two, (120 credits), you will have the opportunity to do one or more of the following:

  • develop a more advanced knowledge of Christian theology and history, building on introductory modules undertaken in Yr. 1 (e.g. New Testament Epistles, Beliefs in the Crucible, Exploring Gnosticism)
  • develop a more advanced knowledge of a range of religious traditions, building on introductory modules undertaken in Yr. 1 (e.g. Islam in the Contemporary World, Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern Judaism, Life of the Buddha)
  • develop your awareness of the role of religion in shaping the cultural, intellectual, and ethical concerns of contemporary societies (e.g. Emotions, Symbols and Rituals)
  • If you have taken a language module in Yr. 1 (e.g. Classical Hebrew, New Testament Greek, Sanskrit or Arabic) you will have the opportunity to deepen your ability to translate and analyse a range of religious texts.

In Year Three, (120 credits), you will have the opportunity to do one or more of the following:

  • deepen your understanding of a range of theological/religious themes and topics with a range of specialised modules (e.g. Gender and Sexuality: Islamic Perspectives, Theology on the Edge, Christian Social Ethics Today, Early Hinduism)
  • write a research-dissertation (i.e. Open Choice Dissertation) based on expertise built up over Yrs 2 and 3
  • acquire skills in qualitative and quantitative research into religion(s) in contemporary societies (e.g. Religion in Modern Britain)
  • If you have taken a language module in Yrs 1 and 2, you will have the opportunity to acquire high-level translation, exegetical, and text-critical skills.

A range of teaching methods and learning styles are used throughout the BA Religious and Theological Studies. Lectures introduce students to the general issues that will guide their own reading; they will develop their ideas in private study, and they will test and gain feedback on those ideas through seminars. Seminars will include activities such as group discussion, oral presentation, and source criticisms.

How the programme will be assessed

Progression is built into assessment, in that students do smaller guided tasks in Year one, as well as formative essays in Years Two and Three. Progression is also evident in the growing emphasis on types of lengthier, independent written work, e.g. written portfolios as 100% assessment model; 8,000 word final yr. Dissertation. Modules at Level 6 also demand deeper engagement with independent methods of working, together with greater demands on handling critically a larger number of bibliographical tasks and items.

Formative and summative assessments include the following

  • A portfolio of skills (incl. Annotated Bibliographies) and methodical approaches in e.g. Religion, Culture and Society 1 and 2 (Yr.1)
  • Portfolios of written essays (typically, two 3,000 words)
  • A final year dissertation (8,000 words)
  • Oral presentations (10-20 minutes)
  • Source criticisms (1000 words) at Yrs. 1, 2, and 3
  • In-class tests (esp. for language modules) of, typically, 3 x 1 hour per module
  • Written Examinations (Typical model incl. 3 questions in 2 hours)

Students receive extensive feedback in a variety of forms, incl. Essay Clinics on formative written work, seminar discussion, written feedback on essays, essay tutorials, lecturer contact-hours (in office, and electronically)

Other skills that will be practised and developed

Students will develop a range of discipline-specific skills that employers also value. Students learn to assess critically a body of knowledge, to develop hypotheses, test them against qualitative and quantitative evidence, and present conclusions both in writing and orally. They learn to work both independently and as part of a team.

What is expected of you

Students will be expected to attend lectures and seminars, to prepare for the latter through private study, and to participate in seminar activities. They will also be expected to participate in group presentations, as appropriate, and to attend and prepare for supervisory sessions for the Open Choice Dissertation. Students are expected to spend at least five hours per discursive module each week preparing for seminars, presentations and writing essays. Students taking Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced language and text modules are expected to spend between six-eight hours per module working on translation tasks, exegetical assignments, and presentations.

How we will support you

As appropriate, modules use the Learning Central electronic learning environment, on which students find course materials, links to related materials, as copyright permits, and electronic tests. Students undertaking the Open Choice Dissertation are allocated a research supervisor at the start of the academic year. Opportunities for students to reflect on their general abilities and performance are provided through Personal Development Plans (which we call ‘CV Building’), which are integrated into the Personal Tutor system.

Welsh language teaching

The department provides significant opportunities for learning and teaching through the medium of Welsh. Subject to staff availability, seminar teaching in Welsh is available on some or all of the major core courses, and at least one Welsh language option is offered in Years Two and Three. Welsh language supervision is also available for long essays (Exploring Historical Debate) and dissertations, and students may elect to write all or some of their assessed work and examinations in Welsh.

Typical A-level Offer  AAB-BBB
Typical WBQ Offer Grade A in the Core, with an AB at A-level
Typical Int Bacc Offer  28-36 points, including scores of 5/4 at Higher Level

Applications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here

Please find here further information about admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme.

The School believes in giving its graduates the best opportunities to find employment. We organise interactive workshops with the Careers Service to help students identify their skills and attributes. Some of our graduates enter professions which make direct use of their academic expertise such as work in archives or museums. The majority however compete very successfully in a wide range of other fields.

In 2010, 62% of the School's graduates were in employment within six months of graduation while a further 22% were engaged in further study.

Next intake: October each year

School Contact

Name: Dr Will Johnson  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 6698 



School Website:

More information

School of History, Archaeology and Religion