Systematic and Philosophical Theology (distance learning) MA

 
  

Fact file

Qualification
MA Systematic and Philosophical Theology (distance learning)
Duration
Normally part-time, over 2-4 years. Exceptionally full-time, over 12 months.
Entry requirements
2:1 or above (or its international equivalent) in theology and/or religious studies, or a related subject such as philosophy or history.
Other requirements
Other candidates will be considered at the discretion of the Department. Students entering the programme from a humanities discipline other than theology may be required to take the module ‘Systematic and Philosophical Theology for Newcomers’.
IELTS
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
October
Campus
Distance learning.
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.
 

Overview

You will engage with the meaning and implications of historic and contemporary Christian teaching.
Read full overview

The field of systematic and philosophical theology deals with the meaning and implications of Christian doctrine or teaching. This includes claims relating to God, creation, salvation, the nature of the Church, human identity and ethics.  Consequently this course is concerned with a field at the heart of Christian theology, and therefore at the heart of human intellectual endeavour. 

 

Course details

Students may pursue an interest in theologies of many kinds, although always critically and rigorously. The course is particularly concerned with the Christian theological tradition from the early church to the present, its engagement with philosophy, the relationship between faith and reason, and the task of theology in the twenty-first century.

You may pursue an interest in theologies of many kinds, although always critically and rigorously. The course is particularly concerned with the Christian theological tradition from the early church to the present, its engagement with philosophy, the relationship between faith and reason, and the task of theology in the 21st century.

Key Facts

  • We are one of the leading theological departments in the country, ranked 8th in the UK for ‘research power.*
  • Every member of staff is active in research and works to the highest standards, disseminating work with major academic publishers.
  • In the latest postgraduate taught experience survey, 100% of respondents in the School of Humanities said, “The course is intellectually stimulating” and “The course has enhanced my academic ability.”
  • 97% of our research is of international quality*

*Research Excellence Framework 2014

 
 

Modules


Systematic and Philosophical theology for Newcomers: The Doctrine of God 

This module is particularly intended for those who are entering the programme from disciplines other than theology and/ or philosophy. It may be a requirement of your admission that you take this module.  Systematic and Philosophical Theology for Newcomers will introduce you to the language and method of systematic theology and philosophical theology through a study of key themes and texts. These will include portions of Plato’s ‘Republic’, Aristotle’s ‘Metaphysics’, St. Thomas Aquinas on theological language and Karl Barth on revelation and the Trinity.

 
Research Methods and Resources

This module introduces the skills and resources you will need for academic research, writing and oral presentation at postgraduate level, and introduces you to methodological and theoretical issues which arise in many areas of theology and philosophy. Topics to be covered may include IT skills, library resources, use of the web, the development of arguments, academic style and sensitivity to language, formatting and referencing, presentation skills, and the relationship between academic research and religious commitment. The primary assessment task for this module is an essay examining the development of a field of research over the last thirty years (for example, Christology). This module is optional and is particularly suitable for those wishing to hone their research skills, or whose academic background is in a discipline other than theology.

 
Christology
Christian theology naturally focuses on the person and work of Christ, otherwise known as Christology. You will study the development of the doctrine of Christ in the first six centuries of Christianity in some detail. This will involve reading a number of primary texts in translation, studying the ways in which Christian theologians developed a language which enabled Christians speak more clearly and coherently about Christ. You will then examine medieval, Reformation and modern understandings of Christ.
 
Aquinas and Thomisms
This module concerns the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274) and the associated theological and philosophical school known as Thomism. Through a close reading of a range of primary texts, we will examine some key themes in Aquinas's work including the relationship between theology and philosophy, the doctrine of creation, theological ethics and the Trinity. This will lead to an examination of the most significant moments in the history of the interpretation of Aquinas, from Suárez (1548-1617) to the present day.
 
La Nouvelle Théologie
The New Theology’ is a pejorative term coined by the French Dominican theologian Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (1877-1964) to describe a new wave of twentieth century Catholic theology which offered a fresh interpretation of Aquinas and called for a return to the Church’s patristic and high mediaeval resources. This movement, which was a reaction against nineteenth century neoscholasticism, is also known as ‘ resourcement ’ theology – a theology which looks to the depths of the Church’s traditional theological resources to meet the intellectual and cultural challenges of late modernity. You will study the new theologians’ understanding of the Church, scriptural exegesis and the key issue in the debate concerning resourcement theology: relationship between nature and grace.
 
Reading Medieval Theologians from Anselm and Ock

This module will examine a range of primary texts, in translation, that extend in time from Anselm (c.1033-1109) to William of Ockham (c.1285-1347). Moreover, the texts will also vary in genre from formal academic works to liturgical texts composed in the period. Through a close reading of these texts students will come to understand how Anselm’s theological method marked a break with the past; how the rise of the university affected theology; how the recovery of Aristotle and reception of Islamic thought affected theology; and how will look at some texts exhibiting the characteristics of ‘scholasticism.’

 
Earliest Christian writings to the mid-second century
The module will be a close reading of four or six of the earliest Christian documents of various lengths in their entirety. The concerns of each text will be given priority rather than viewing them as sources for other thematic concerns. This will lead to an examination of how these documents bring before us the history of the earliest churches, and exhibit both their theological concerns and styles of theology. There will be close attention throughout the module to how these texts have been used in theology in the past and how they can be used in theological understanding today .
 
Dante, Religion and Culture
This module offers students the opportunity to read most of the important Italian poet and lay-theologian Dante Alighieri’s works in translation, as well as his sources in medieval theology, philosophy and mystical writings. The cultural background in music, art and politics of the period will also be addressed. Primary texts will include the V ita Nuova (his poetic autobiography) Convivio (invitation to a philosophic banquet), Commedia (his journey to hell, purgatory and heaven) and Monarchia (political theory), and writings by Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Hugh of St Victor, Bernard of Clairvaux, Mechtild, Aristotle and Dionysius the Areopagite, as well as contemporary scholarship.
 
Faith and Reason
This module provides an opportunity to engage with key questions about the relationship between faith and reason in the modern world.The Department’s specialists in systematic and philosophical theology contribute to the module. Each unit addresses the issue of faith and reason in a very different way, for example through phenomenology, the thought of Aquinas or the understanding of philosophy as a spiritual exercise.
 
Reformation Theology
This module will provide an overview of the key figures and theological positions associated with the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Theologians covered will include Martin Luther, John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and Thomas Cranmer. Major topics of discussion may include the doctrine of justification by faith, early Protestant theologies of the sacraments, predestination and the assurance of faith, the theological background to the Reformation, and the official Catholic response to early Protestant theology at the Council of Trent. Close attention will be paid throughout the module to questions of theological method that informed key positions in Reformation theology, including the role of the Bible and the question of the sources of theological authority.
 
Theology of the Holy Spirit
This module investigates several major themes associated with the theology of the Holy Spirit from the patristic era to the present. Topics covered may include the development of belief in the Trinitarian identity of the Spirit in the early Church; the Spirit’s role in salvation and sanctification; the relationship of the Spirit to the Bible and the sacraments; and the Holy Spirit and Christian experience. Attention will be paid throughout the module to the questions of why the Holy Spirit has historically received less attention than the other two persons of the Trinity, and why claims to direct encounter with the Holy Spirit, such as are found amongst contemporary Pentecostals, have tended to be so controversial in theology.
 

You may also opt to take some modules from the MA in Church History, and, with the consent of the course director, you may be allowed to take a 'Directed Reading' module. You will complete your studies with a 12,000- word dissertation. 

For more details on our modules, please see the Module Catalogue.

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.

 
 

Funding

UK/EU Students

Competitive scholarships available include:

  • MA scholarships
  • Department MA studentships

Please note: students need to be studying full-time to qualify for most types of scholarship funding.

For up-to-date information and application forms on these and other funding opportunities, please visit the Department of Theology and Religious Studies funding webpage.

The University’s International Office has a wide range of scholarship opportunities for students with an EU fee status, including a fee reduction for alumni, and EU and Accession State Scholarships.

You may also search the University’s funding database, designed to give you an indication of University scholarships for which you may be eligible to apply. The University's Graduate School operates funding schemes of its own to help support current postgraduate research.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.

 
 

Careers

This programme develops skills of research, analysis and critical thinking which are relevant to a broad range of careers. Many students pursue this course as preparation for a research degree (MPhil or PhD). Others pursue the course as part of their development within the teaching profession, Church ministry, or purely for personal interest.

Average starting salary and career progression

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.

In 2016, 96% of postgraduates from the School of Humanities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,370 with the highest being £30,000.**

The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.  
**Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career Prospects and Employability

Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from  careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential. Our Careers  and  Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.

 
 
 
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Disclaimer
This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

Get in touch
+44 (0)115 951 5559
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Contact

Dr Simeon Zahl
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham
NG7 2RD
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