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1 year full-time



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Course details

Led by the University’s world-renowned Centre for Catholic Studies (CCS) in partnership with the Department of Theology and Religion the PG Cert in Catholic Theology provides an in-depth knowledge of individual figures, periods, themes and areas of Catholic theology.

This course is suitable if you have an undergraduate education in Theology, Religious Studies, or a related discipline. It is an excellent foundation for progression to the MA, and for those pursuing ongoing personal and professional development.

You will undertake a ‘Preliminary Tour’ as a core module plus one further module of your choice from options including faith and reason, twentieth century Catholic theology and conceiving change in contemporary Catholicism.

The course is offered full-time over one year via distance learning. It is part of a suite of courses set up to enable you to study from wherever you live regardless of your time zone. However, there will be a residential session of 2-3 days in the University. The residential is an important part of the course. It offers a valuable opportunity to connect with fellow students and lecturers and to attend a series of tailored lectures and seminar sessions. For those attending the residential, there is an additional fee to cover costs.

As a distance learner, you will be considered a valued and engaged member of the CCS and the Department’s student body as whole. You will be encouraged to participate in the Department’s research seminars where possible and other online events. We also hold an early career conference in Catholic Studies which is run online in alternate years. We are fully committed to making the high-quality academic study of Catholic theology available to students in different parts of the world and in a wide variety of life situations. 

Course structure

Core module:

Catholic Theology: A Preliminary Tour provides a strong intellectual foundation to help you move from undergraduate studies in theology and religious studies or in related subjects such as classics, philosophy, history or literature to the study of Catholic theology at a more advanced level. You will also gain training in research methods and resources that are used in the academic study of Catholic theology.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Conceiving Change in Contemporary Catholicism 
  • Twentieth-Century Catholic Theology 
  • Catholic Social Thought and Practice 
  • The Theology of Thomas Aquinas Selected Topics 
  • Faith and Reason 
  • High Medieval Franciscan Theology 

A limited CCS Bursary Fund specifically for this programme in Catholic Theology by Distance Learning is now available. For full details see Funding - Durham University


Teaching will be delivered using a mixture of written and recorded material, asynchronous online discussion, optional co-ordinated webinars and occasional tutorials. There will be a 2-3 day residential in Durham each year, with the remainder of the course offered as distance learning.

The study resources that you will need for the course, including all reading materials, will be available online and all video and audio-recorded material will be accompanied by a transcript.

Timetabling of optional seminars and office hours will take the varying time zones into account while the other components of the modules will be asynchronous or organised individually as they are with tutorials.

Convenors have been allocated to the course modules and, as a minimum, they will be available during University term time to answer questions, give feedback on written work in tutorials and lead the optional webinars.


The majority of coursework is assessed by essays, with the potential for oral presentation and an exam depending on the option module chosen.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 undergraduate degree in Theology, or Religious Studies or a related discipline.

  • The three principle exceptions to this rule are
    • Graduates of other disciplines who have studied at an undergraduate or equivalent level in one or more of the areas in which they hope to work, through their first degrees, through training for the ministry of the churches, and so on.
    • Students from overseas universities who have successfully reached a point in their theological, religious studies or studies in a related discipline comparable with completion of an English BA.
    • Students who have already passed the module ‘Catholic Theology: A Preliminary Tour’ with a score of 60 or higher.

A 500-word personal statement should include the following:

  • An outline of your interest in the Postgraduate Certificate in Catholic Theology (DL)
  • What skills and knowledge you would bring to the course
  • What skills and knowledge you would hope to acquire

Two professional and/or academic references from people who are familiar with your work, commenting on your suitability for the programme.

A brief one-on-one interview with a programme convenor.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £4,700 per year
EU students £9,900 per year
Island students £4,700 per year
International students £9,900 per year

For those attending the residential, there is an additional fee to cover costs.

The tuition fees shown 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 Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Theology and Religion

Durham graduates are in demand across many sectors. The world-class study facilities, combined with a research-led approach to learning and the Department’s international outlook mean our postgraduate taught courses and research degrees provide the fundamental skills and personal qualities needed to succeed in the workplace.

Our Theology and Religion graduates are equipped to follow a wide range of careers, including law, politics and government, marketing, business and finance, industry, charity work, the media, journalism and the clergy. Many progress into careers with religious institutions across the world, while others work in schools, colleges and universities. Our taught MAs also offer a pathway into research and many graduates take the step into higher-level studies.

Previous employers have included Linklaters, Kirkland and Ellis, Coltraco Ultrasonics, the Home Office, Durham Police and Jaguar Land Rover.

Department information

Theology and Religion

Durham University’s Department of Theology and Religion is a supportive and vibrant international teaching and research community where ‘belief’ and ‘beliefs’ are studied in detail, whether those beliefs are atheistic, humanistic or religious.

We are a recognised global leader in the field of theology and religion. Delivered by researchers at the forefront of their disciplines, our range of highly regarded postgraduate degrees enables students to pursue their interests in the fields of theology, philosophy, religious studies, biblical studies, and ethics, through the exploration of diverse and contemporary issues such as the migrant crisis, homelessness and Catholic identity.

In the Department we have an intellectual community of more than 30 academic staff and 150 postgraduate students and researchers who join us from across the world, giving our courses a highly international focus. The local, national and international contexts in which we work and study help to build a more joined up picture of the complex world in which we live.

The Department is home to a range of research centres and projects, including the Centre for Anglican Studies, the Centre for Catholic Studies, the Centre for Death and Life Studies, and the Project for Spirituality, Theology and Health. These all help to foster a vibrant research culture, of which our postgraduates are an important part.

Our postgraduate provision is designed to develop the academic and personal qualities that are valued in the workplace and in higher-level academic research. This includes a professional development and training programme with opportunities to work as a teaching or research assistant.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 10 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 4th in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2024 
  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • 6th in The Complete University Guide 2024


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

Research Excellence Framework

  • 4th in the UK for Research Power (REF 2021)
  • 91% research graded world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2021)


We are a leading Department in the field of Theology and Religion, uniquely situated within a World Heritage Site next to Durham Cathedral and within easy walking distance of the Students’ Union, colleges and Durham Castle. Our home, Abbey House, is an inspiring place to study and research the field of theology and religion.

We hold extensive library resources. As well as the University’s well-equipped central library which includes wide-ranging collections of rare books and manuscripts of particular interest to theology and religion students, we also hold the largest collection of German language theological materials in Britain. Next door, Durham Cathedral is home to Sharp Library, which focuses on modern and pastoral theology, while a number of college libraries also hold theological collections.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

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