BA Religion and Oriental Studies

The course in Religion and Oriental Studies enables you to learn in depth about one of the world’s great religious traditions, from a choice including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.

To engage with all the different aspects of the course, you have to be something of a historian and a philosopher, a textual and literary critic, and a linguist. These disciplines together not only enable students to appreciate the qualities of religions that can be radically different from those in western societies, but also equip graduates to embark on a wide range of careers.

This degree offers the opportunity to study the major world religions and their primary languages. Students can also explore the relationship between religions and science, and the place of religious ethics in public life. Religion and Oriental Studies provides an understanding of the intellectual underpinning of religious traditions, and of the social and cultural contexts for religious belief and practice. 

You can find more helpful information about this course on Oxford University's Undergraduate Admissions pages.


The following is an outline of the course structure. Further detail is available in the Course Handbook


Terms 1-3

Terms 4-9


In the first year, you will be given an introductory course on Religion and Religions and you will follow intensive language instruction related to the world religion you have chosen.

  • Religion and Religions

and one of the following languages depending on your choice of world religion:

  • Christianity - Greek or Hebrew
  • Judaism - Hebrew
  • Islam - Arabic
  • Buddhism – either Pali, Sanskrit or Tibetan
  • Hinduism - Sanskrit



Students take seven papers, three in Oriental Studies and three in Theology and Religion; the seventh may be chosen from either Oriental Studies or Theology and Religion. In addition, all students must prepare a 10,000-word thesis on a topic of their choice, which may be chosen from either Oriental Studies or Theology and Religion.

Papers are chosen from a wide range of options.



First University examinations: 

Four written papers, or three written papers and an oral examination, depending on the language option.


Final University Examinations:

Seven papers assessed either by written examination or by submitted coursework, depending upon the option, plus a thesis.

Undergraduate Open Days

We participate in the annual Oxford University Open Days in late June or early July, and in September.  We publish information about our Open Day programme on our website about a month in advance.

Most colleges and Halls that offer degrees in the Faculty of Theology and Religion also participate in the main University Open Days. When visiting Oxford, please take the time to look around at least one college, in addition to attending the Faculty’s own events. Some colleges hold their own College Open Days at other times of year. These colleges offer our courses.

UNIQ Summer Schools

The Faculty is a committed partner of the UNIQ programme of free summer schools at the University of Oxford. If you are currently in Year 12, at a UK State-maintained school, and want to experience what it’s like studying in the Faculty of Theology and Religion, then you should consider applying for a UNIQ course next summer.

Your application

Your application will be assessed against clear criteria. Tutors are primarily interested in previous academic achievements as demonstrated, for example, by GCSE or other examination results, and in the quality of submitted written work, but will also take other information on your UCAS application into account (such as your personal statement and reference). A subject involving essay-writing to A-level, Advanced Higher or Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent can be helpful to students in completing this course, although this is not required for admission.

In interviews tutors will look for interest in the proposed fields of study, your ability to think clearly, form sound arguments and to listen and respond to counterarguments; your openness to learning; evidence of your enthusiasm and motivation for the course, and your oral communication skills. For the BA in Religion and Oriental Studies, admissions tutors will also be keen to find out about your linguistic aptitude and your commitment to a wide-ranging course. Please check the University website for more information on interviews, and how best to prepare.


Stage 1: UCAS forms due by 15th October

Stage 2: You will need to submit one piece of written work. Criteria vary, so check requirements on an annual basis

Stage 3: Test. You must take the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test at your own school or college before you come you are interviewed.

Stage 4: Interviews. The majority of applicants are interviewed. 

Good luck with your application!

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