Research overview

Our PhD gives you the time and support to explore your religious studies interests while maintaining your existing commitments.

We have particular strengths in:

  • Theology and the Natural Sciences
  • Theology and Phenomenology
  • Theology and Metaphysics
  • Theology and Literature
  • Systematic Theology
  • Theology, Philosophy, and History of Ideas
  • Science, Technology and Nature
  • Religion, Culture and the Arts
  • Islamic Studies

Staff and supervision

Our staff include theologians, historians, sociologists and philosophers so we can support your research with a range of different approaches and methodologies.

Supervision is provided by research-active staff. With many years experience in running distance learning degrees the department is confident it can provide quality learning with flexibility.

Current research

You will be joining a diverse community whose current research projects include:

  • Hebrew Bible and New Testament
  • Hermeneutics
  • Islam and Politics
  • Jewish Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophical Theology
  • Religion and Media
  • Religion and Technology
  • Theology and Continental Philosophy
  • Theology and Literature
  • Theology and Natural Science

Find out more about some of the existing research themes in the Department

Your department

"The distance learning students are very strong, very committed. It’s a joy to work with them! They’ve made such a heavy commitment, often combining with full-time jobs, and they really want to learn." Professor Alison Milbank, Department Director of Postgraduate Research

Find out more about Alison's research and role

Play video

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2025 entry.


We usually expect applicants to have:

  • Bachelors degree: 2:1 or above
  • Masters-level degree (or international equivalent): Merit

If you do not meet these requirements please contact us to discuss before applying.


We usually expect applicants to have:

  • Bachelors degree: 2:1 or above
  • Masters-level degree (or international equivalent): Merit

If you do not meet these requirements please contact us to discuss before applying.

International and EU equivalents

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.

IELTS7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
English language requirements

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

Visa restrictions

International students must have valid UK immigration permissions for any courses or study period where teaching takes place in the UK. Student route visas can be issued for eligible students studying full-time courses. The University of Nottingham does not sponsor a student visa for students studying part-time courses. The Standard Visitor visa route is not appropriate in all cases. Please contact the university’s Visa and Immigration team if you need advice about your visa options.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us.


We encourage you to get in touch with a member of our academic staff before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support in finding funding opportunities.

Most of our academics are experienced supervisors, several with former research students in academic posts.

Supervisors and research areas

This research opportunity is a companion to our 'Theology PhD by distance learning'. The support and supervision on offer in both is identical but the one you apply for may help local funding applications. 

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

How to apply


Home / UK£5,350

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).


There are funding opportunities which are only open to students within the Faculty of Arts

Postgraduate funding for Faculty of Arts students

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We have a strong, supportive and welcoming research culture.

With many years experience in distance learning we provide you with a comprehensive package of resources backed up with substantial support.


Your supervisors are always available to provide support and advice by email and MS Teams.


You will have full access to the University's library systems and resources.

We have reciprocal agreements between university libraries, which permit you to use the facilities at the libraries nearest your home.

Researcher Academy

The university has many distance-learning and part-time researchers so you'll be part of a large community with specialist support. Find out more about the resources, training and support available.

Research centre

The department is associated with the Centre of Theology and Philosophy that promotes collaborative research both inside and outside the University.

Teaching opportunities 

During your doctoral studies, you can apply to work as a Postgraduate Teaching Assistant (PGTA) within the Faculty of Arts. We offer a limited number of part-time annualised hours contracts of employment. They provide invaluable teaching experience in delivering and supporting seminars, as well as marking, assessing and giving feedback on students’ work. We provide dedicated training and professional development. (Please note - applications for PGTA positions are competitive and are not guaranteed.)

Visiting us

There is no need to visit the university in person to successfully complete your research. However, we will be delighted to see you if you are able to visit - simply arrange with your supervisor the best time for a visit.

Research seminars

  • Hear visiting scholars from the UK and overseas
  • Present research in progress in a friendly and constructive environment
  • Broaden your general knowledge of Theology and Religious Studies
  • Gain a better sense of how research develops as part of an interactive process

Language learning

You can make full use of the Language Centre facilities for both research-specific learning and personal interest.

Video content

We have one of the largest collections of self-developed video resources of any UK university. These explore themes such as:

  • Why study... - an ever expanding series where theologians the key issues and concepts of particular topics
  • Objects of belief - a series of short films that uncover the rich theologies of items used (or not) in religious practices
  • Sacred calendar - explaining key dates, events and celebrations across religions
  • Theologians in conversation - theologians discuss their work and the questions they see as significant

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services, including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

Where you will learn

The Researcher Academy

The Researcher Academy supports all postgraduates and early career researchers at the University, with dedicated study spaces, training courses and placement opportunities.


Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Many of our PhD students are already settled in careers before starting the course - their research is for personal development, interest or to deepen their existing career.

The most common non-religious career paths for our postgraduate students include education/teaching, IT, and welfare and housing associations.

We have a successful record of our PhD students developing academic careers at many different institutions.

100% of postgraduates from the School of Theology and Religious Studies secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation.

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on data from graduates who completed a full-time postgraduate degree with home fee status and are working full-time within the UK.

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

The University of Nottingham is ranked 7th in the UK for research power, according to analysis by Times Higher Education. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national assessment of the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

  • A top 10 department in the UK by grade point average
  • 100% of research outputs recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour
  • 90%* of our research is classed as 'world-leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*)
  • 100%* of our research is recognised internationally
  • 51% of our research is assessed as 'world-leading' (4*) for its impact**

*According to analysis by Times Higher Education ** According to our own analysis.

This content was last updated on 01 July 2024. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.