Research overview

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

We have particular strengths in:

  • Theology and Philosophy
  • Religion, Culture, and Ethics
  • Science, Technology, and Nature
  • Biblical Studies
  • Jewish Studies
  • Islamic Studies

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

Supervision is provided by research-active staff. With over 10 years experience in running distance learning degrees the department will provide the support you need.

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

Course content

You will complete a written thesis of up to 100,000 words, with expert support and advice from your academic supervisors.

This is followed by an oral examination where you defend your thesis.

Recent dissertation examples

  • The Significance of Time in Augustine’s Understanding of the Authority of Scripture
  • By the Spirit we understand: how do new religious experiences create scripture?
  • The Oneness of the Manifold: A Comparative Survey of Mystical Ontologies East and West
  • The Word Above All Earthly Powers: The Metaphysics of Creation and Reformed Theology
  • Chromatic dialogues: colour and culture in Homer, Herodotus and the Hebrew Bible
  • Wisdom as a Model for Jesus’ Ministry: A Study on the ‘Lament over Jerusalem’ in Matthew 23.37-39 and Luke 13.34-35
  • Ibn Taymiyya's Contextual Biblical Hermeneutics in Al-Jawab al-Sahih (The Correct Response)

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.


Masters-level degree or international equivalent


Masters-level degree or international equivalent

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.

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 'Religious Studies 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£4,625 per year
International£20,000 per year

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for 'home' fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

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).


Thanks to the generosity of donors, there is sometimes dedicated funding available for PhD students in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.

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 over 10 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. Find out more about the resources, training and support available.

Research centres

The department is also associated with two research centres that promote collaborative research both inside and outside the University.

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

Find out more about our research seminars

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

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.


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.

The average annual salary for postgraduates from the School of Humanities was £25,563*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Photo of Cat Quine in sunglasses smiling
History, politics, gender and faith are intertwined in the biblical texts. A PhD in biblical studies allows you to journey into this world, the historical circumstances underlying it, and arrive at a deeper knowledge of one of the most important texts in human history. My own research centres on themes of history, politics and gender, seeking to better understand how the ancient context influenced the development of the biblical texts.
Dr Cat Quine, Assistant Professor in Hebrew Bible

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

We are ranked 8th in the UK for research power (2014). The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system used by UK higher education funding bodies to assess research quality in universities.

  • The Department of Theology and Religious Studies is ranked seventh in the UK for ‘research power’, a measure of the quality and scale of research activity
  • 97% of our research is rated of international standard with 30% considered world-leading
  • More than 97% of research at Nottingham is recognised internationally
  • More than 80% of our research is ranked in the highest categories as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • 16 of our 29 subject areas feature in the UK top 10 by research power

This content was last updated on 15 October 2021. 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.