MRes Study of Religions
The MRes Study of Religions is attractive for all those seeking to further their knowledge of religion through multidisciplinary study and research. It is aimed at individuals with keen research skills who are interested to explore particular aspects of religious traditions by means of rigorous academic study. Students on the programme are required to first complete three taught modules of 20 credits each, making up a total of 60 credits. They then complete a research dissertation of 30,000 words, worth a further 120 credits.
The programme places particular emphasis on contemporary religions. It aims to enable in-depth analytical engagement with different traditions in a manner that is free, fair, accurate and open to discussion and debate. Students are encouraged to explore not just the theoretical, but also the practical, lived aspects of religious faith and practice in different contexts. Staff members contributing to the programme have backgrounds in sociology, anthropology, and religious studies, and work on traditions from different parts of the world including South Asian, Afro-Carribbean and Latin American, Western European and North American contexts.
The programme can be completed via either full-time or part-time study in distance-learning (home-based learning) format. All module content is available through the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and students are supported throughout their studies through regular access to their module tutors, on a one-to-one basis (by email, skype, phone), in groups (using media such as Skype), or via VLE module discussion forums.
An annual residential graduate summer school is held for all students in July when participants attend lectures and seminars covering issues related to both generic and subject-specific learning, and engage with other research students at this University.
Students have to do three modules in part 1.
Study Skills is designed to prepare students with the necessary skills and methodologies to undertake study at postgraduate level and to complete a longer research project.
The module on Theory and Methodology in the Study of Religions enhances the student’s familiarity with various concepts and methods in the study of religion, and sharpens skills of data collection, information management and critical appraisal. It enables students to engage with debates and competing views on how best to study religion as a subject. This module also introduces students to different disciplinary approaches to the study of religion, ranging from anthropology and sociology to psychology and history.
The module Religion, Spirituality and Secularisation engages with one of the most important debates in the field of religion today – is modern society getting increasingly secularised? Is religion increasingly a thing of the past? Is there evidence to prove this? This module enables students to explore both sides of the ‘secularisation’ debate, and offers a critical examination of such phenomena in modern Western societies as the growth of New Religious Movements, and the popularity of religiously unaffiliated ‘Alternative Spiritualities’.
Available evidence suggests that religion remains a vital and significant aspect of both private and public life in the modern world. This programme enables interested individuals to delve deep into aspects of religion and culture, and research areas of interest using the theories and methods central to the academic study of religion. It engages students in current debates about the place of religion in the modern world and empowers them to consider religion and religious traditions in an academically rigorous and analytical manner.
The programme draws upon an established pool of expertise in the study of religion in the Faculty. Research-active staff who publish on a range of religious traditions in different socio-historic contexts support the teaching and research supervision in this programme. This ensures a high quality educational experience. In addition students benefit from the vibrant research culture of the Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts. Students are encouraged to attend the annual Graduate Summer School which includes a one-day conference where staff make presentations on ongoing research projects.
Assessment methods for the taught component include long essays, short reviews and critiques, and reflective pieces. Students’ research skills are assessed on the basis of a 30,000-word research-based dissertation.
Normally the entry requirement for this programme is a first class or upper second class undergraduate degree in a cognate subject. In addition, the Faculty encourages students with an equivalent and appropriate professional qualification or with relevant professional experience to apply.
In some instances individuals without a first degree in a cognate subject may be admitted. The candidate will need to provide evidence that s/he has gained a minimum of three years of professional experience relevant and appropriate to the programme. S/he will also need to demonstrate the required level of writing/research /analytical skills.
The programme has been designed to attract students interested in developing both their generic as well as subject-specific skills. It offers opportunities for recent graduates to move on to work at level 7 in their specialist field of study and helps prepare them for careers in education as well as research. The programme also offers excellent continuing professional development for teachers at various stages of their career, ministers currently in pastoral charge seeking further professional development, and other interested parties. In addition, the programme will be attractive to individuals who have a personal interest in this area and wish to deepen their knowledge through rigorous study.