MPhil Theology

The MPhil degree in the Faculty of Theology and Religion is a course designed to offer extensive postgraduate education in a specialist field of Theology for very able students. Candidates who are successful in the MPhil may be allowed to expand the MPhil thesis for a DPhil. The course is studied over 21 months full time.

For information on the application process and to apply, see the Graduate Admissions prospectus.

The course is assessed by three elements (although note that some subjects have a slight variation):

  • Three essays of not more than 5,000 words each, or one essay of 15,000 words
  • A dissertation of not more than 30,000 words
  • Two written examinations of three hours’ duration

The Course Handbook provides detailed information on each of the fields of study.

Fields of study

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Old Testament

In Old Testament, two routes are possible, route I involving two written examinations and route II only one. The assessment for the course will consist of the following elements:

Route I.

A. Two written examinations:

1. Prescribed Hebrew Texts

2. Either (a) Unseen passages from the Hebrew Bible or (b) The Aramaic portions of the Old Testament or (c) Passages from the Septuagint

B. Candidates will write either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) in one of the following subject areas: (1) The Literature of the Old Testament and Apocrypha in its Historical Setting; (2) Old Testament Theology; (3) the History and Principles of Biblical Study. The topic(s) will be chosen by the candidates in liaison with the supervisor.

Route II.

A. One written examination in Prescribed Hebrew Texts.

B. One long essay (up to 15,000 words) in one of the following subject areas, and three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) in another: (1) The Literature of the Old Testament and Apocrypha in its Historical Setting; (2) Old Testament Theology; (3) the History and Principles of Biblical Study. 

Routes I and II.

C. All candidates offer a dissertation of up to 30,000 words. 

 

New Testament

The assessment for the course will consist of the following elements:

A. Two written examinations:

1. The Religion and Literature of the New Testament: the Four Gospels and Acts in Greek.

2. The Religion and Literature of the New Testament: The Epistles and Apocalypse in Greek.

Candidates will be required to translate and to comment on matters of literary, historical and theological importance from a selection of these prescribed texts.

B. Either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics in one of the following subject areas: (1) New Testament Theology; (2) Varieties of Judaism, 200 B.C. – C.E. 200; (3) the History and Principles of Biblical Study. 

C. A dissertation of up to 30,000 words. 

Candidates will be required to offer one of the following sections:

Section A. History of Doctrine: Patristic Theology

Section B. History of Doctrine: Scholastic Theology

Section C. History of Doctrine: Reformation Theology

Section D. Issues in Theology with special reference to Patristic Theology

Section E. Issues in Theology with special reference to Scholastic Theology

Section F. Issues in Theology with special reference to Reformation Theology

Section G. Issues in Theology with special reference to Theology from 1780 to the present day

The assessment for the course will consist of the following elements:

Section A. History of Doctrine: Patristic Theology.

A. Two written examinations:

1. The Development of Christian Doctrine to A.D. 451. Candidates will be expected to write three essays on different topics, showing knowledge of the main lines of development of Christian Doctrine, and discussing particular developments in relation to the historical conditions which influenced them.

2. Either (a) Hellenistic Philosophy and Christian Theology Or (b) Christology of the Patristic Era In each case the examination will consist of two essays on different topics and passages for translation and comment. Candidates may choose whether to translate and comment on Greek or on Latin texts. The prescribed texts for both examination papers will be listed in the Course Regulations for the M.Phil. in Theology for the year in which the candidates commenced their course.

B. Either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics falling within the Patristic era.

C. A dissertation of up to 30,000 words.

 

Section B. History of Doctrine: Scholastic Theology

A. Two written examinations:

1. Doctrine and Methods. Candidates will be expected to show knowledge of major theologians in the period 1050-1350 by commenting on passages from prescribed texts in Latin and writing two essays on different topics.

2. The Thought of Aquinas. Candidates will be expected to display knowledge of the thought of Thomas Aquinas by commenting on passages from prescribed texts in Latin and writing two essays on different topics. The prescribed texts for both examination papers will be listed in the Course Regulations for the M.Phil. in Theology for the year in which the candidates commenced their course.

B. Either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics falling within the Scholastic era.

C. A dissertation of up to 30,000 words.

 

Section C. History of Doctrine: Reformation Theology

A. Two written examinations:

1. Theology in Western Europe from Gabriel Biel to Jacob Arminius. Candidates will be expected to write three essays on different topics, showing familiarity with the tenets of the most seminal theologians of this era and to discuss them in relation to the political, social and economic tendencies of the age.

2. Protestant and Tridentine Teaching on the Doctrines of Grace, Freewill and Predestination. Candidates will be expected to write three essays on different topics.

B. Either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics falling within the Reformation era

C. A dissertation of up to 30,000 words.

 

Section D. Issues in Theology with special reference to Patristic Theology

A. Two written examinations:

1. Methods and Styles in Theology from 1780 to the Present. Candidates will be expected to write three essays on different topics, discussing problems of theological method, showing a critical understanding of the main themes in systematic theology, and taking account of the impact on Christian theology of contemporary philosophy, critical historical studies, the natural and social sciences and non-Christian religions and ideologies.

2. Either (a) The Development of Christian Doctrine to 451 A. D.; or (b) Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christian Thought; or (c) Christology in the Patristic Era. Passages for comment in (b) and (c) will be chosen from the same texts prescribed in Section A. above, but here in English only.

B. Either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics falling within the Patristic era.

C. A dissertation of up to 30,000 words.

 

Section E. Issues in Theology with special reference to Scholastic Theology

A. Two written examinations.

1. Methods and Styles in Theology from 1780 to the Present, as in Section D. above.

2. Either (a) Doctrine and Methods, as in Section B. above; or (b) The Thought of Aquinas, as in Section B. above. In (b) candidates will be expected to comment on passages from the same texts prescribed in Section B. but here in English only.

B. Either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics falling within the Scholastic era.

C. A dissertation of up to 30,000 words.

 

Section F. Issues in Theology with special reference to Reformation Theology

A. Two written examinations:

1. Methods and Styles in Theology from 1780 to the Present, as in Section D. above.

2. Either (a) Theology in Western Europe from Gabriel Biel to Jacob Arminius, as in Section C. above; or (b) Protestant and Tridentine Teaching on the Doctrines of Grace, Freewill and Predestination, as Section C. above.

B. Either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics falling within the Reformation era.

C. A dissertation of up to 30,000 words.

 

Section G. Issues in Theology with special reference to Theology from 1780 to the Present

A. Two written examinations:

1. Methods and Styles in Theology from 1780 to the Present, as in Section D. above.

2. Modern Theology;

B. Either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics falling within Modern Theology.

C. A dissertation of up to 30,000 words.

 

The assessment for the course will consist of the following elements:

A. Two general papers, assessed either by two written exams, or by one written examination and three essays (up to 5,000 words each).

1. A General paper on the Nature and Practice of Ecclesiastical History. Candidates will be expected to discuss the nature of ecclesiastical history as a sub-discipline within History through study of the writing of the history of the Church from the Early Church to the modern day and investigation of shifts in historical method, with particular reference to methodological debates within History since the mid-nineteenth century.

2. A General paper on one of the following, assessed either by unseen examination or by three essays (up to 5,000 words each):

(a) The Early Church, A.D. 200-476

(b) The Western Church, A.D. 476-1050

(c) The Western Church, A.D. 1000-1400

(d) European Christianity AD 1400-1800

(e) European Christianity AD 1800-2000

B. Either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics in ecclesiastical history, chosen by each candidate in liaison with the supervisor.

C. A dissertation of up to 30,000 words. 

The assessment for the course will consist of the following elements:

A. Two written examinations:

1. Christian Moral Concepts and Methodology. Candidates will be expected to write three essays on different topics, showing an understanding of basic conceptual and methodological issues as these are discussed in relevant classical and contemporary texts.

2. Select Texts and Practical Issues in Christian Ethics. Candidates will be expected to write three essays on different topics, showing careful interpretation of classic texts and a capacity to analyse moral issues arising in practical fields.

B. Either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics in Christian ethics, chosen by each candidate in liaison with the supervisor.

C. A dissertation of up to 30,000 words. 

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