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Durham University


V617 Religion, Society and Culture BA Undergraduate 2021


Please note: 2021-22 courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Applicants will be informed of any changes which we are required to make to course entries as a result of Covid-19.

UCAS code V617
Degree BA
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 3 years
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications
Contextual Offers You may be eligible for an offer which is one or two grades lower than our standard entry requirements. Find out more.
More information Still have questions?
Department(s) Website

Course Summary


This degree will equip you with the skills to understand religion and its power to shape the human condition This degree is designed to develop an understanding of the centrality of religion to the functioning of societies past, present and future. You will engage with the comparative study of religion, especially with the significance of myth-, ritual- and meaning-making. This is complemented by more specialised modules that explore religious practice in relation to either particular religions (such as Islam, Judaism and Christianity), particular regions (such as Asia, Africa, and Europe), or particular transnational media (the internet, film and literature).

You will engage with the role of religion in a wide range of contexts: including politics, literature, bioethics, and war. Students on this degree will benefit from the considerable strength that the Department has in the comparative study of religion, the social sciences and the study of religious texts/artefacts. 

Graduates of the degree will be highly employable in a range of professions including the civil service, education, research and social work.

The degree enables you to understand better the world we live in, and to explore the forces that shape your own attitudes, hopes and fears. In turn, it will empower you to go out into the world to make a difference for the good.

Year 1

Lays the foundations that are needed for higher study, providing core understandings and skills for the exploration of religion and culture.

Two compulsory religious practice modules are taken in the first year, as follows:

  • Islam Observed
  • Christianity in Context

at least two compulsory theory modules:

  • Worldview, Faith and Identity


  • God and the Good: Philosophy of Religion and Ethics AND/OR
  • God and Evil

and one or two modules from a large list of electives offered by the Department of Theology and Religion and from the departments of Anthropology and Sociology. Examples of modules available in recent years include:

  • People and Cultures
  • Societies in Transition
  • Conceptualising Society
  • Biblical Hebrew
  • New Testament Greek
  • Introduction to Christian Theology
  • Reading Biblical Texts.

 One of these optional modules may be taken in your second year. 

Year 2

The second year builds upon the first allowing for deeper study of key themes, traditions and practices.

Candidates have to choose at least three modules from a list of electives that may include, for example:

  • Death, Ritual and Belief
  • Religion in Contemporary Britain
  • Atheism, Belief, and the Edge of Reason
  • Faith, Identity and Power in Latin America
  • Sacred India: Land, Politics and Identity
  • Topics in Christian Ethics
  • Myth and Meaning: The Structural Analysis of Mythology
  • Research Project and Colloquium in Theology and Religion
  • Science and Theology: Exploring the Interface
  • God and the Universe of Faiths
  • Landscapes of Worship in Contemporary South Asian Religions.

They may choose to draw up to three modules from a further list of electives, examples of which might include:

  • Cultures and Classifications
  • Philosophy and the Christian Tradition 100–1300
  • Self, Identity and Society
  • The Making of Modern Christianity: Medieval and Reformation.

Year 3

In your final year, you will submit a double dissertation which allows you to explore in depth a topic of your choice which is of special interest to you. In the third year you will also take optional modules, selecting from a list of modules offered by the Department of Theology and Religion and from other departments. Examples of recent modules include:

  • Anthropology of Religious Controversy
  • Religion and Film
  • Religious Diversity in African Context
  • Emotion and Identity in Religion
  • The Postmodern God
  • Christian Tradition and the Practice of Politics
  • Faith and the Experience of War in the Christian World
  • Religions in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Religion, Media and Popular Culture.



Study Abroad

Students admitted to the BA (Hons) Religion, Society and Culture are able to apply to transfer to the BA (Hons) Religion, Society and Culture (with Year Abroad) course.

Durham University has over 240 student exchange agreements across the world as part of our International Exchange programmes. Our partner institutions are spread across the globe from Austria to New Zealand. Students apply for this opportunity during their first two years and (if successful) spend a year, between their second and third years at Durham in one of our overseas partner institutions. 

Placement Year

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Course Learning and Teaching

To be a student on the BA (Hons) in Religion, Society and Culture is to undergo a process of self-discovery, within a supportive and friendly community, made up of fellow students, and staff.

Human beings always have had, and always will have, worldviews, and fundamental beliefs about the way the universe is, and their role in it. And this is the part of the human condition that is studied in a Theology and Religion Department, from a range of methodological and disciplinary perspectives: social scientific/anthropological; textual; historical, and philosophical/ethical. The Theology and Religion Department is a place where ‘belief’ and ‘beliefs’ are taken seriously, respected, and studied, whether those beliefs are atheistic, humanistic, or religious. So, for example, if you are interested in worldviews, including, for example, atheism, Christianity, or humanism, the Department of Theology and Religion is the place for you.

This process of learning and teaching is conducted using a variety of the following methods:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Study skills classes.

All of these activities support, and are supported by, your own independent and scholarly engagement with texts and issues, and the writing of assignments, on which you will receive feedback. Through the process of doing the degree, you will grow as an independent and creative thinker and researcher.

In the first year you will receive about 8–9 hours of timetabled contact each week. First year modules are intended to provide the foundational understanding and skills necessary for work in theology and the study of religion. Weekly lectures will introduce you to the broad questions and current issues in the subject area, and will enable you to develop a clear understanding of the subject and to improve your skills in evaluating and analysing information. Seminars (typically six in each of your six modules) will give you the opportunity to engage with the topics introduced in lectures and to discuss key issues in small groups; they also promote awareness of and respect for different viewpoints and approaches, and help you articulate and develop your own views in dialogue with others. You will also be able to get detailed feedback on your essays, to help you improve the quality of your written work.

For each hour of timetabled contact, you will be expected to complete about three hours of independent research. This will enable you to broaden your subject knowledge, prepare for lectures and seminars, and complete written assignments. We will provide you with reading lists, handouts, suggestions for preparation, and other online materials to guide you in your research.

There are also four general lectures in the first year on study skills. These provide you with the basics about accessing the library, reading, note-taking, essay writing, and the like. But they also set you on the path to becoming an independent learner, helping you to understand how to find out for yourself the resources you will need and the skills you will have to develop for effective intellectual engagement with texts and issues.

Every member of staff has weekly office hours when they are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis. You will also get a personal academic adviser who meets with you a number of times each year, and is responsible for your overall academic progress. He or she is usually the first person you would turn to if you have queries or problems. Academic advisors are also very helpful when it comes to finding someone to write a reference for you!

The second and third years develop this approach of research-led learning. There is a much greater choice of modules in the second year, to allow you to pursue your own interests within theology and religion by building on the understanding and abilities you have begun to develop in the first year. There is also an increased emphasis on the development of critical and analytical skills, and on the ability to write more extensive pieces of writing based on your own research. As modules specialise more strongly in particular areas, the type of teaching varies more markedly between modules, and the kind of contact you experience depends to a greater extent on the modules you take. On average in the second year, the number of timetabled contact hours is similar to those in the first year, as are the number of hours you will need to dedicate to your own independent learning.

The culmination of the process of becoming an independent researcher is the third-year dissertation, a large research project that counts for one-third of your marks for your final year. This gives you the opportunity to engage at an advanced level with creative cutting-edge research at the forefront of the discipline, working on a topic of your choice, with a specialist within the Department. On account of the time you will need to undertake this research, timetabled contact in the third year is reduced (to an average of just under six hours a week), but this is balanced by six 45-minute tutorials of one-to-one contact with a supervisor dedicated to discussing your own research project, together with a number of classes on dissertation research skills. The dissertation is excellent not only for those students interested in further academic research, but also represents the cumulative development of skills in analysis, synthesis, presentation and interpretation which the degree aims to foster and which are highly prized by future employers.

In addition to all this, the Department also has an extensive series of research-related activities which you are warmly encouraged to attend. These include several research seminars and public lectures from high-profile guest speakers and visiting scholars; the University also frequently hosts eminent and well-known visiting speakers. You will also receive invitations to attend regular workshops that are organised by the Department and the Careers and Enterprise Centre.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

A level offer – AAB including a social science or humanities subject.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD and A levels as above.

Typical IB score 36 to include 665 in higher level subjects.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. Please contact our Admissions Selectors.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £22,250.00 per year
Home Student £9,250.00 per year
Island Student £9,250.00 per year
International non-EU Student £22,250.00 per year

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding 

Career Opportunities

Theology and Religion

Of those students who graduated in 2018:

  • 80% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 74% are in a professional or managerial job
  • Average salary of £25,500.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments, and opportunities to explore college options, the open days provide our prospective undergraduates with the full experience of Durham University.

Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place:

Discover Durham Tours

Discover Durham tours offer a brief introduction to the University. The tour begins at one of our undergraduate colleges, where you will receive an introductory talk from a member of college staff, followed by a tour of the college by current students.

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information

Theology and Religion


Durham is a place of self-discovery, where ‘belief’ and ‘beliefs’ are taken seriously.

Human beings always have had, and always will have, worldviews and fundamental beliefs about the way the universe is, and their role in it. This is the part of the human condition that is studied in Theology and Religion at Durham, from a range of methodological and disciplinary perspectives: social scientific/anthropological; textual; historical; and philosophical/ethical.


  • World Top 5 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2021.
  • 2nd in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2020 and The Complete University Guide 2021.
  • 3rd in The Complete University Guide 2021.
  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2021.


For a current list of staff, please see the Theology & Religion Department web pages.


Durham University has important museums including the Oriental Museum that houses many religious artefacts. Durham University students are given the opportunity to learn from, research and handle objects not normally on view to the public.

We are well placed for the study of living religious traditions and enjoy a strong relationship with the adjacent cathedral. We also have good links to other faith communities in the North East and run regular field trips to Durham’s Muslim chapel, Newcastle’s Hindu Temple and Newcastle’s Gurdwara. The department has connections with the highly active societies for Theology and Religion, which are active in organising seminar series, field trips and social events.

We enjoy centrally located classrooms in historically important buildings that are comfortably furnished and fully integrated into the digital age. The new Centre for Teaching and Learning, located on Saint Mary’s Field, is due to open for the 2019 academic year and will push forward the current boundaries of learning environments and technologies.

The Bill Bryson library is centrally located and well stocked with relevant Theology, Religion and Cultural Studies holdings with both the latest in academic research across these areas and a large collection of historical texts relating to Oriental religions. The Cathedral Sharp library has strong theological holdings and the nearby Ushaw library has around 30,000 early printed books and a major collection of archives and manuscripts, some of which formed part of the medieval monastic library of Durham Priory.


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