Theology & Religion

Pembroke normally admits four undergraduates each year to read Theology, across the three courses Theology & Religion, Theology & Philosophy and Theology and Oriental Studies. This means the College has a comparatively large group of students in the subject area, producing a supportive group dynamic.

The Theology Fellows at Pembroke, Justin Jones and Andrew Teal, carry out admissions interviews each year and are looking for enthusiasm for the subject when making choices. Both are involved in tutoring and get to know their students well as they are guided through the undergraduate courses. 

The Theology & Religion course is very flexible; students have plenty of choice in papers across fields including Philosophy and Ethics, History of Christianity, Biblical Studies, and World Religions. The degree combines approaches to the study of religion drawn from a range of subjects including History, Literature, Philosophy, Anthropology and many others; it does not presuppose personal faith on the student’s part and is studied in the same way as any other Humanities subject. It also leads to a similarly broad field of possible future employment. Theology can also be studied as part of a joint course with either Philosophy or Oriental Studies.

Course Details

Pembroke welcomes applications from graduates to read Theology as a second degree.

It is not necessary for candidates to have any previous theological background. They are required to learn either Hebrew or New Testament Greek, and if they wish they can study both languages (although this is unusual). Previous knowledge of these languages is by no means essential; they can be studied from the beginning after arrival in Oxford. 

The structure of the Theology single honours course is that all candidates take a Preliminary examination after two terms (including a Biblical language paper). Thereafter they choose one of three 'tracks' in which to focus their studies for finals. These focus on Biblical studies, study of Christian history and doctrine, and study of non-Christian religions. All those studying for finals have to do compulsory papers in Old Testament, New Testament, Patristics and Christian Doctrine; but in addition students have a very wide range of subjects (currently 40) from which to choose to study to make up their quota for their finals examination and students are therefore given every opportunity to develop their own particular interests.

Those studying for the Philosophy and Theology joint degree divide their time roughly equally between the two main areas of Philosophy and Theology. Within Theology, students study New Testament, Christian Doctrine, and Patristics or Ethics.

See the Department website for further information.