Department of Theology and Religious Studies

About distance learning

Below is a list of questions we are frequently asked by prospective distance learning students. Click on the relevant question to reveal the answer.

What are the deadlines for applications?

If you wish to start on 1 October, you must submit your application by 1 August. Delays in applications being processed are usually caused by the late arrival of references (letters of recommendation). Please encourage your referees to write as soon as possible.



Are the distance learning MA courses eligible for US federal loans?

At present, distance learning courses are not eligible for such loans.



Is any financial aid available from the University of Nottingham?

In common with most UK universities, there are very few scholarships and bursaries to assist with fees. Find out more about scholarships and studentships.



Who should I ask to be my referees?

Ideally, university tutors who knew you when you were studying for your first degree. However, we know that this may not be possible or appropriate if you studied a long time ago. In that case, ask a colleague, minister or friend who currently knows you well, and can comment on your academic interests and reasons for wanting to pursue the course.

It must be clearly stressed that the University puts considerable weight on the content of references, so it is worth asking your referees to focus their comments on your academic abilities and aptitude for further study. It should be noted that the University has had to reject references; in one case when the applicant asked his wife to write on his behalf, and in others when the referee commented on the applicant in a purely social or religious capacity: 'I attended his wedding 25 years ago....' 'I have been her vicar for the past 5 years...' with no further academic observations.



Can I study for the MA full-time?

Yes, the regulations do allow for this. However, the degrees have been designed with the needs of part-timers particularly in mind. You should only contemplate this option if are in a position to study very intensively over a 12-month period.

Full-time study is not considered compatible with paid employment or with heavy domestic or community commitments. 



I'm trying to choose between studying over three or four years. How would I plan my studies over these different lengths of time? 

If you take the degree over four years, you would take a minimum of two x 20-credit modules in each of the first three years, and then in the fourth year you would work on your dissertation. As four years is the absolute time limit, it would be advisable to make faster progress with modules if you can.

If you are studying over three years, you need to think of taking three x 20-credit modules (or 30-credit equivalent) over two years, working on the dissertation in your third year.



If I register to pursue an MA over four years, can I complete sooner?

Yes, though you will need to have paid all fees prior to graduation.



If I register to pursue the MA over two years, can I extend my registration if I don’t complete on time?

Yes, though it should be noted that there are no circumstances under which the University would grant a registration of more than four years.



How long does a module take?

In theory, a 20-credit module should equate to 200 notional study hours, and a 30-credit module to 300 notional study hours. In practice, the amount of time taken to complete modules successfully does vary. Once you've started your degree, you should get into the habit of always having relevant reading 'on the go'. Whether you are working on one module every three, four or sixth months, it is essential you set aside regular periods for concentrated study, particularly as you move from reading the course materials to writing your essay.



How many books or articles am I expected to read in the preparation of my essay?

There is no definitive answer on this. Obviously, the more work that goes into your essay, the more you will get out of it, and the higher the mark is likely to be. A lot depends on the nature of the question. If you were doing a close analysis of a particular text, you would be likely to use fewer sources than if you were answering a broader question on a larger topic or period, in which you might be making relatively brief reference to a larger number of sources.



Are the distance learning Masters degrees intended to lead to doctoral study?

Students pursue an MA for many reasons. Sometimes students move on to a PhD. The distance learning Masters courses provide excellent preparation for doctoral studies.



I have a 2:2 degree completed some years ago. Should I still consider applying?

The admissions requirements suggest a 2.1 or first class degree in Theology or a cognate discipline (eg, History). However, every application is considered individually on its merits. If you believe that you have developed personally and academically since achieving your first degree and can show good reasons why you are enthused by the academic study of Theology or Church History, it is certainly worth applying.



What is the US GPA equivalent of the UK entry requirements?

The standard entry requirement for US students is a GPA of 3.3 or above with a major in a relevant discipline (eg, philosophy, history or religion). However, every application is considered individually on its merits.



I have a first degree is science/social science. Can I apply?

You should consider the very considerable challenges of launching into a new subject at Masters level. For example, you may be unfamiliar with the practice of researching and writing long essays. The concepts, language, method and history of Systematic and Philosophical Theology and Church History will need to be grasped.

However, if you believe that you have the aptitude and determination to undertake an MA in these subjects, please explain this in your application.



Should I contact the Course Director before applying?

It is not necessary, however, we are always happy to hear from prospective applicants and offer further advice.



If you have other queries, please don't hesitate to contact us at

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Contact us 

General: Laura Jarvis
t: +44 (0)115 951 5897
f: +44( 0)115 951 4812

Admissions: Dr Simeon Zahl
t: +44 (0)115 951 5853



Department of Theology and Religious Studies

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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