The following applies to applicants for the MA by research, MLitt, and PhD. Applicants for the DThM are invited to contact the Postgraduate Admissions Secretary. There are slightly different entry requirements for the Integrated PhD.
There are four stages in making an application:
Stage 1: Satisfying basic requirements
You should ensure that you:
- meet our entrance requirements
- can meet the financial requirements of the programme
- have achieved appropriate English-language proficiency if you are not a native English-speaker.
If you are at all unsure about any of these, please contact us for further advice.
We always welcome potential applicants and will be very happy to show you around the department. Please contact either a potential supervisor or the Postgraduate Admissions Secretary if you would like to visit us.
Stage 2: Finding a supervisor and research topic
A key challenge in starting a research degree is to find the right supervisor(s) and the right topic. The easiest way to find a suitable supervisor is to look through the research areas or staff web pages. Please feel free to email staff directly: they will be happy to discuss possible research proposals with prospective students. If this does not prove fruitful, then email the Tutor for Postgraduate Admissions, who will help you to find the right supervisor.
We operate a system of team supervision, with two supervisors appointed for each research student. This works in a variety of ways in practice, and the details of supervisory arrangements are individually tailored to the interests and needs of each research student.
Once you have the right supervisor, there will be a period of discussion between you and him or her as together you develop a research idea into a research proposal. This should become the backbone of your application to study here. The shape and content of the proposal will vary according to the nature of the topic, but the following advice for writing a research proposal may be of use:
- The proposal should be between 1,000 and 1,500 words in length, annotated as appropriate.
- Identify your proposed topic or field of research and say why it's important both intrinsically and in relation to the scholarly study of theology and religion.
- Outline what you know of previous work on the subject and indicate how your research might relate to that previous work.
- Identify methodological issues appropriate to the subject and what method you may wish to follow.
- Identify the relevant primary and secondary sources essential for the research, in part to indicate your knowledge of the current state of play in your field.
- Suggest if you can what line of argument you might wish to test out.
- Offer an indicative bibliography (not included in the word count).
See also our further guide to preparing a strong research proposal.
Please note that the decision to accept you will only be taken once you have developed your proposal and made a formal application.
Stage 3: Making an application
You must now make a formal application to the University. You should do this using the on-line admissions application form. If you have a preference for a particular college please indicate this on your application; otherwise, you will default to Ustinov College which is just for postgraduates. If you have any queries related to filling out the application form, please email the Postgraduate Admissions Secretary, who will be able to advise you.
Please note that if you would like to apply for a Doctoral Fellowship, your application form will also be used to assess your application for the scholarship. You may wish to keep this in mind while completing the form.
In addition to the online form, you must send us hard copies of the following items of supporting documentation:
- academic transcripts or other evidence of academic qualifications,
- two references (using the reference form [Word]); it is your responsibility to ensure that reference forms are sent to your two referees, each with a first class stamped addressed envelope; please note that open letters supplied by the applicant are not acceptable,
- evidence of English language proficiency, if your native language is not English,
- samples of academic work: one or more pieces of recent written work on a theological or related topic undertaken as part of an earlier degree (please send photocopies, not originals), and
- your research proposal.
These should be sent to:
Postgraduate Admissions Secretary
Your supporting documents may be uploaded via the online application system or sent by post. They should not be sent to the Graduate School Office (please ignore what the online application form says at this point). Original documents may be requested should your application be accepted. We require confidential references so please do not upload these but ask your referees to follow the instruction on the reference form. You may like to know that a frequent source of delay in the application process is that we have not received all your supporting documentation: it is your responsibility to ensure that they are sent to us.
You should note the dates by which applications should be submitted by.
Stage 4: Consideration by the department and university
If your qualifications, references and (in the case of degrees by research) your research proposal are satisfactory and we can provide appropriate supervision and resources, the department will support your admission to the university. In certain circumstances we may need to request further information.
The university processes your application and sends you a formal response. The Graduate School is responsible for approving all postgraduate applications. You should be aware that approval by the Graduate School is not a formality and that in some cases where a department has recommended approval, the Graduate School will be unable to support this. Until you receive an offer from the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office, you have not received a formal offer of a place. We will contact you directly if we as a department are unable to recommend your application for approval.
You can track the status of your application using our applicant enquiries service. We aim to let you know of our decision within four to six weeks of receiving your finished application complete with all supporting documentation.