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Theology and Religious Studies

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This fascinating course is so much more diverse than anything you will have encountered at school.

Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion BA at Cambridge engages with elements of history, literature, languages, philosophy, anthropology and sociology. Our world-class staff specialise in Philosophy of Religion, Religious traditions of India, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, Ethics, History of Christianity, and Biblical Studies.

You will benefit from an education across the breadth of the arts and humanities that superbly equips our students with an outstanding range of transferable skills. You will learn a new language, analyse historic documents, undertake textual analysis, and develop cogent arguments.

Unique and diverse character of courses on offer

TRS enables students to engage critically with the big questions of life both in the present and as they have been answered in the past: What does it mean to live a good life? Why am I here? Is there such a thing as revelation? What, if anything, is distinctive about religious language?  Can we talk meaningfully about God’s existence? Is religion dangerous? What role has religion played in history and society?

One of its most appealing aspects, and one which could be said to differentiate it from almost all other subjects in the humanities is that TRS engages with a wide variety of disciplines from the perspective of the study of the history, practice and thought of Christianity as well as of the other major world religions of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism: these include the study of sacred texts (including biblical studies), philosophy, sociology, psychology, history, language, literary criticism, and the construction of ideas. Given this diversity, students can create for themselves a varied programme of study, but equally, if they prefer to specialise in one area, they can follow a particular pathway through the Tripos.

In the first year students are required to take a language paper which introduces them to the study of the seminal texts of one of the major world religions in the original language (Hebrew, Greek, Qu’ranic Arabic or Sanskrit). All languages courses are run by experienced teachers and are designed to accommodate those with no prior experience of language learning.   There is a great deal of support for students, with both Faculty classes and supervisions provided.  We frequently find that once students have the opportunity to learn a well-taught structured language, they discover an unsuspected talent and choose to continue with it.

In summary, TRS is a diverse and demanding Arts degree which enables students to address a number of fundamental questions through a variety of religious traditions and philosophical perspectives. Its subject matter is increasingly relevant in a world where religious belief is so often a driving force behind world events, and where anyone operating in an international context requires some understanding of the importance of religious and cultural contexts.

Professional opportunities after TRS

TRS, like any other humanities degree, gives students a number of significant transferable skills, which are applicable to a wide range of professions. It is not surprising, then, that our students go on to a variety of careers after graduation, including:

Journalism
The Civil Service
Law
Work for charities and NGOs
Teaching
Business
Work for religious institutions and agencies

At Homerton

Homerton takes up to 4 students each year for this degree. We are looking for a keen engagement with the rich range of study available. There is no reqirement for a specific religious affiliation; we've taken students from many faiths and from no faith. What is required is an enquiring mind and an openness to debate and argument.

Dr Grauman is Homerton's Director of Studies. He is a Senior lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity with research and teaching interests in: 

  • Ancient Christianity: History and Theology
  • Late antique and medieval Church Councils and Synods
  • Authority and legitimacy in patristic theological discourses
  • The history of biblical exegesis

While Dr Graumann is on sabbatical research leave Dr Jane McLarty has agreed to step in as our Director of Studies. Dr McLarty teaches New Testament Greek and is Senior Tutor of Wolfson College

Director Of Studies:

Preparation for TRS

Religious Studies A-level is not required, nor are other subjects deemed to be essential.  English (Literature or Language), History, Philosophy and Ethics, Religious Studies, a language (ancient or modern), are useful preparation for the degree but so can any subject be that encourages clear, logical thinking and careful analysis of evidence. 

Written Assessment at Interview (common format across all Colleges)

If you are invited to interview (about 80% of applicants) you will sit a 60 minute at-interview assessment when you come to Cambridge in December. It will take the form of a pre-recorded sample lecture lasting up to 20 minutes. You will then have the remaining 40 minutes to answer a set of comprehension questions. This will give you an opportunity to demonstrate how you have developed academically since you took your GCSEs. It will be skills-based, looking at your comprehension and writing skills, but will not assume any prior knowledge. It will provide valuable additional evidence of our applicants’ abilities and potential to succeed in the Cambridge course for which they have applied. For further information and a chance to look at some example lectures see here.

Interviews

Homerton will ask you to submit one or two examples of your written work from a relevant A Level/IB (or equivalent) course. These should be as handed in to, and marked by, your teachers. A discussion of this work may then form part of your interview.

Before the interviewing begins, all Directors of Studies meet to consider the whole field of applicants. At that meeting, each candidate is assigned an interview at a second College - this process not only compensates for peaks and troughs in applications to particular Colleges but also gives you a second chance, with a different interviewer, who may draw out a different response. 

Applicants are interviewed in all Colleges on the same two days. Immediately afterwards the Directors of Studies meet again to compare notes; at this point they flag up to colleagues strong applicants for whom they might not have room at their College, but who deserve a place at another College.

Strong applicants who have not been made an offer by their first choice College are placed in the January Pool. If you are, you might then be made an offer by your second interview College, or by another College which is happy to rely on the information already available. It is possible that a third College might ask you to a further interview in January.

The Second Interview Scheme has proved to be very successful: over the last few years one offer in four has been made via the Pool.

The standard offer for those who are successful in their applications is A*AA/ IB 40-42 pts with 776 in HL subjects, or the equivalent in other secondary examinations.

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