Broader than religious studies but more focussed than philosophy, theology is a unique subject that looks at the world around us through the lens of religion. Understanding how different beliefs have influenced society, and how they still play a major role today, helps theologians answer some of the big questions in life.
Theology is an ancient academic subject, which many believe is a more accurate description of the expertise of some of history’s most famous philosophers. We might not think that religion plays as big a role in today’s society as it used to, but its impact can still be felt in our culture, traditions, legal frameworks, marriage systems, and much more. Theology is the study of where divinity meets society, in the past, present, and future.
Many universities will just set an overall grade boundary for acceptance onto a theology degree, as it’s such a broad subject which draws from so many others. The most relevant courses are history, English literature, religious studies, and philosophy, but don’t worry if you’re not studying any of these at the moment.
Admissions teams at your university will be looking for what makes a good theologian, and this list will include critical thinking, textual analysis skills, intellectual curiosity, open-mindedness, and articulate communication. And it’s these characteristics that you’ll continue to develop during your study, which will make you a highly employable graduate across many jobs.
A levels – Entry requirements range from BCC to AAB, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for ABB.
Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBBB to AAABB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for ABB.
Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, or an SCQF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.
- Apply by 15 January
- Write a personal statement
- Submit a portfolio
- Audition for a place
- Attend an interview
- Pass an entry test
- Show work experience
Theology is a branch of philosophy which looks at the world strictly through the lens of religion. It looks at the role that religion plays in modern society, and how modern culture has been influenced by religions of the past. Philosophy may tackle the same questions and challenges, but it paints with a much broader brush.
If you have a keen interest in religion, philosophy or intellectual study, theology may be the perfect subject for you to broaden your knowledge in. Many questions posed during your theology degree are the same that intellectuals have been trying to answer for millennia, so if you like to be challenged to think differently then you won’t be shy of problems to solve.
When it comes to career options, many theology graduates will go into religious or voluntary work, whether in the clergy or one of multiple aid organisations. Besides that, a degree in theology will mean you graduate with strong writing and communication skills (great for media, publishing, PR or marketing) and the ability to express your ideas clearly and argue your point (HR, finance, legal, and more.) The average graduate salary is around £18k, with 96% of students in work or further study within six months.
Some modules you may study are:
- Research skills in theology
- Biblical Hebrew
- Morals and ethics
- Philosophy and religion
- Religious history
- Living religions
- Women in Islam
- Global Christianity
You can expect to do a lot of reading during a theology degree, whether it’s the direct study of religious texts, or analysing what famous theologians and philosophers have written over the years. You can also expect to be studying history extensively, to inform your studies of the present and future impact of religion. Don’t expect a quickfire style of learning – there’s a reason why many of the big questions in theology remain unanswered.
As for how you’ll learn and be assessed, you’ll develop your analytical and communication skills through the dissection of texts. Exams and coursework are common, as are debates and group presentations – where you’ll learn as much from your peers as you will from your tutor. Courses normally last three years, and result in a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree.
Studying a theology degree will likely involve:
- writing reports and essays
- attending lectures and seminars
- project, presentation, and group work
You’ll only spend around nine hours per week in the classroom, which might not sound like much, but you can expect to spend much more than this doing your own self-study. There’s a lot of reading in theology, and you’ll be diving deep into ancient texts to understand the subject.
If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.
Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.