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MA Christian Theology

Course length
  • 1 year full-time
  • Not available to study part-time
  • An honours degree (normally 2.1 or above) or equivalent in theology or in another appropriate subject
  • PGCert Christian Theology
  • PGDip Christian Theology

NB: This programme is only available for full-time study in 2016/17.

Please see further details on the maximum period of study.

Deepen your grasp of the religious teachings at the heart of Christianity. You will bring together historical and contemporary examinations of the theological ideas which have shaped Christian faith and identity and delve into the central teachings of Christianity.

This degree is especially designed for teachers of Religious Education at secondary level, those engaged in Christian ministry in its many forms, and those who want to enrich their understanding of the on-going theological tradition which supports Christian faith and life.

The timetable for 2016-17 can be found in the Postgraduate Options Handbook at the bottom of the page.

Teaching & Assessment

The programme consists of four taught modules and a dissertation. You will have a choice of two optional modules, and may, with permission, replace one of these with a module from another MA programme. Students are assessed in each module through a combination of coursework and an end of year essay. The final dissertation of 12,000 – 15,000 words is on a research topic agreed by your supervisor.

Core modules

Augustine and the Christian Tradition

Examine Augustine’s classic influence through the centuries from the Patristic era through to the modern age. You will investigate the criteria of truth in the Christian tradition, examine Augustine’s central writings and consider how they have shaped Western Christian teaching.

This module is an introduction to Augustine, who has influenced Christian thought in the West more than any other post-Biblical writer.  We shall follow his influence down into the eighteenth century, to give an idea of the ‘classical’ theology which the modern thinkers you will then explore have had as a foundation to build on or react against. After a brief introduction to the criteria of truth in the Christian tradition, the module will examine central writings of Augustine and the way in which they have shaped Western Christian teaching, with special attention to the following topics:  

  • The Trinity and Christ, Christ and the Church
  • The human person in the image of God, nature and grace  
  • The Church in the World, Sex and marriage
  • The heirs of Augustine in the Reformation and Counter-Reformation
  • Augustine and the Enlightenment
Central Themes in Modern Christian Theology

Explore the key themes in Christian theology through the lens of ideas and theologians.

This module looks at the key themes in Christian theology, especially Trinity, Christology and Soteriology, using modern theologians and ideas as the main emphasis for study. Topics covered will typically include:

  • The role that a doctrine of creation can play in our understanding of God.
  • The doctrine of election in connection with the doctrine of God.
  • The links between the paschal mystery and the Trinity, especially with regard to ‘divine suffering’.
  • The role that experience can play in theology, and how best to understand the development of dogma to which its inclusion gives rise.
  • The classic metaphors of salvation in the Christian tradition, displaying a hermeneutical sensitivity to their use.
  • The main soteriological strategies of the twentieth century to be found in transcendental Thomism, theologies of liberation and dramatic soteriology.
  • The recovery of eschatology in current soteriology

Optional modules group one

Religion: Context and Crisis

This module will address critical issues of the contemporary context from sociological and theological perspectives.

It will ‘model’ the pastoral theological approach and methodology and deepen understanding of themes of political and liberation theology and the sociology of religion.

Jewish-Christian Relations

You will study themes including the ground-breaking declaration of the Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate, Jewish and Christian accounts of the early formative period of the Church, the impact of the Qumran discoveries, post-Holocaust thought and the influence of contemporary Jewish thinkers on Christian theology.

The retrieval of the ‘Jewish matrix’ – Christianity’s origins in the religious life and thought of the Jewish people – may be counted as one of the most important developments in contemporary Christian theology.  This module begins with a schematic overview of relations between the two traditions, from the ‘parting of the ways’ to the Nazi Holocaust.  In responding to this history, a number of themes will be treated, including the significance of Nostra Aetate and subsequent moves within the churches to address the legacy of Christian anti-semitism, Jewish and Christian accounts of the early formative period, the effect on modern scripture scholarship of the Qumran discoveries, post-Holocaust thought in both Judaism and Christianity, the influence of contemporary Jewish thinkers such as Rosenzweig, Buber and Levinas on Christian theology, the emerging tradition of a Christian ‘theology of Judaism’, the significance of the Jewishness of Jesus for Christology and of the continuing vitality of the Jewish people for ecclesiology, and Jewish and Christian accounts of other religious traditions.  

Optional modules group two

The Bible in the life of the Church

Examine the Bible as the central religious, spiritual, intellectual and cultural source for faith communities of Judaism and Christianity.

This module examines the Bible as the central religious, spiritual, intellectual and cultural source of communities of faith: Judaism and Christianity in its various denominations. Exegetical analysis of selected Biblical texts will be reflected against the backdrop of their theological, liturgical, artistic and musical reception. Communities of faith will be seen both as the hermeneutical framework for the interpretation of canonical texts as well as inspired and fostered by them. According to specific interests of students, the module will also give an opportunity to improve practical skills regarding the “ministry of the Word”.

Taught in alternate years.
Christianity in Dialogue

Discuss key themes such as Church and mission, dialogue and inculturation, salvation and the action of the Holy Spirit in a pluralist world.

This module focuses on the theology of religions as it has emerged in the last few decades.  It begins by discussing the terms of the ‘threefold paradigm’ and its origins in the ‘normative pluralism’ of John Hick.  Important issues about the Church’s relationship with other religious traditions are addressed, including salvation, mission, revelation and the uniqueness of Christ.  It then takes up a variety of more practical as well as theological questions arising from the Church’s experience of dialogue with ‘the other’ at a number of levels – common life, common action, religious experience and theological exchange.  Some recent interreligious practices are considered – including Scriptural Reasoning and Comparative Theology – and the terms of a pneumatological theology of religions are sketched out.