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Course overview

The Bible is a powerful and influential collection of texts. Its interpretation changes with time, place, culture, and politics.

We will encourage you to develop your own understanding of questions such as:

  • How does the content of the Bible differ between faiths?
  • How were biblical books included and excluded?
  • Why does the Bible remain such an influential book?
  • What did the various religious texts mean to their original audiences?
  • What is the relationship between the Bible and theology?
  • What does Biblical Studies have to offer the 21st century?

We have one of the most robust Greek and Hebrew programmes in the country. This means you'll have the option to examine the biblical texts in their original languages.

Our staff include theologians, philosophers, historians and sociologists. This diversity gives you a broad set of views and strengthens your studies. 

Find out more about the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.

Why choose this course?

  • Explore a variety of historical and contemporary approaches to biblical studies
  • Discuss the impact of the Bible on modern culture, philosophy and politics
  • Ideal preparation for postgraduate study
  • Develop a set of skills vital to a wide range of professions
  • Work experience opportunities to enhance your CV
  • Option to study abroad - experience living and learning in different cultures

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level offer ABB
IB score 32

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

If you have already achieved your EPQ at Grade A you will automatically be offered one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject.

If you are still studying for your EPQ you will receive the standard course offer, with a condition of one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject if you achieve an A grade in your EPQ.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

As part of the course we encourage you to use video, art and other creative formats to explore theological ideas.

Teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Placements

How you will be assessed

Assessment methods

  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • In-class test
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Presentation
  • Reflective review
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

The minimum scheduled contact time you will have is:

  • Year one - 12 hours
  • Year two - 10 hours
  • Year three - 8 hours

Weekly tutorial support and the accredited Nottingham Advantage Award provide further optional learning activities, on top of these class contact hours.

Your lecturers can be available outside your scheduled contact time to discuss issues and develop your understanding.

As well as your timetabled sessions you’ll carry out extensive self-study. This will include course reading and seminar preparation. As a guide 20 credits (a typical module) is about 200 hours of work (combined teaching and self-study).

Class sizes vary depending on topic and type. A popular lecture may have up to 70 students attending while a specialised seminar may only contain 10 students.

Your lecturers will usually be from our academic staff.

Study abroad

  • Explore the world, experience different cultures and gain valuable life skills by studying abroad
  • Options range from short summer schools, a single semester to a whole year abroad
  • Language support is available through our Language Centre
  • Students studying abroad for a semester pay reduced fees (Home/EU students - £6,480, International - 75% of the relevant international fee)
  • Boost your CV for prospective employers

Placements

Become 'workplace-ready' with our Work Placement module. It helps you develop skills and experience that allow you to stand out to potential employers.

You also have access to a wide range of work experience and volunteering schemes through the:

Modules

Get a thorough grounding in biblical studies and Christian theology through the core modules (70 credits).

The optional modules (50 credits) allow you to develop your existing interests or discover something new.

You'll have the opportunity to begin learning Hebrew and/or Greek - particularly recommended if you're thinking about postgraduate study.

You must pass year one but it does not count towards your final degree classification.

Core modules

Building the Christian Church
This module introduces students to the lives and works of some of the main Christian theologians. The module will follow the chronological development of Christian thought, both eastern and western, from the first Christian thinkers in the second century, up to the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in the sixteenth century, including key figures such as Origen, Augustine, Aquinas and Luther. It focuses upon the ideas of the theologians, but places them in their broader historical and ecclesiastical context.
Christianity and the Crisis of Modernity
This module introduces students to the development of Western Christian theology, both Protestant and Catholic, from the Enlightenment to the present. It surveys the challenges posed to Christian faith by modernity and a range of theological responses to these challenges. It also introduces modern Christian approaches to ethics
Interpreting the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

This module is an introduction to the literature, history and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament or Tanakh.

Attention will be paid to the biblical text as history, as literature and as scripture in the Jewish and Christian traditions, both in general and with particular reference to specific texts.

Interpreting Judaism
This module will introduce Judaism in the period from its formation to modernity. We will study major texts of Second Temple and Late Antique Judaism, the developments of medieval Jewish culture under Islamic and Christian rule, and key topics in early modern and contemporary Judaism. Special emphasis will be given to the textual strategies of Jewish readings of the Bible, to the continuing important of the Temple as a central religious symbol, and to the impact of the foundation of the state of Israel. The module will give students an overview of Judaism as a diverse tradition that has always engaged its Roman, Christian, Persian, Muslim and modern Western surroundings.
Interpreting the New Testament
This module will cover the following themes: the canon and text of the New Testament; the Roman, Greek and Jewish background to the New Testament; source, form and redaction criticism of the Synoptic Gospels; the historicity of the Synoptic Gospels and Acts, and the authenticity of Paul's letters.
Reading, Writing and Speaking Religion
This module provides an introduction to key skills required for the discipline of Theology and Religious Studies in the understanding and analysis of primary texts in world religions, and in a range of broader abilities necessary for university level study, including bibliographical and footnoting skills, the use of scholarly journals and monographs, argumentation and essay writing. 
The Bible in Music, Art and Literature

The Bible is a perennial bestseller and its influence on Western culture is unparalleled. This influence is not always obvious though, nor limited to the 'religious sphere'. In the Arts - whether Bach or The Beatles, Michelangelo or Monty Python - the use of the Bible is extremely varied. This module explores the ways the Bible is drawn upon in art, music and literature ranging from ancient Jewish synagogue mosaics and early Christian iconography, to contemporary - secular - films and music. Students are encouraged not only to engage with case studies of works of art which demonstrate the use and influence of the Bible, but also to consider critically the way in which art, music and literature - both 'religious' and 'secular' - function as biblical interpretations, and as part of the Bible's 'reception-history'. The module is taught by a variety of theologians in the department specialising in different areas of the Bible's reception. Introductory contributions on the influence of the Bible on, and through, a range of authors, musicians and artists can be seen in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies' Bibledex video project.

Optional modules

Atheism
This module will investigate the phenomenon of atheism, both traditional and ‘old’ and the cultural phenomenon sometimes referred to as ‘new atheism, place it in a broader historical and intellectual context. Where does it come from? What are the sources and roots of contemporary atheism? How can we explain the transition in Western society from belief as norm to agnosticism or atheism as the majority position? What are the most convincing arguments for atheism, and what are its most radical and interesting versions? The module will include examination of recent writers (e.g. Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens), atheists of the Enlightenment, and thinkers such as Nietzsche and Feuerbach. Secularization and various ways in which scholars have tried to understand it will be explored.
Introduction to Biblical Greek A
Introduction to the grammar, syntax and vocabulary of the Greek language, as found in the New Testament; no previous knowledge of the language is assumed.
Introduction to Biblical Hebrew A
This is an introduction to the grammar, syntax and vocabulary of the Hebrew language, as found in the Hebrew Bible; no previous knowledge of the language is assumed.
Interpreting Islam

This module examines the narrative and textual foundations of the Islamic tradition including the Qur'an, the prophetic tradition and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. You’ll also look at the development and structure of Islamic society, law, doctrine and spirituality through the classical period, and Muslim responses to challenges posed by modernity including questions of gender and the nation state.

Philosophy for Theologians

This module will provide an overview of the most important philosophical ideas, theories, and arguments that are of special interest to students of theology. The module will begin with the Greek 'natural theology' of the pre-Socratic thinkers and end with the post-modern 'turn to religion' of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. 

Religion, Media and Ethics

We live in a media environment, surrounded by social media, videogames, TV, movies, 24-hour news and more. The media teach us what to think about each other, how to talk to each other, and who we want to be. This course invites us to think more critically and imaginatively about the media. We will explore how the media portrays religion, and ask why stereotypes persist. We will see how the media challenges religion, and provokes new religious creativity. We ask what the big ideas of religious ethics could teach us about how to use media more wisely. In the process, we will also start learning the key skills we need to be more effective media communicators.

The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

With just one core module you can choose subjects that build on material studied in year one or discover new areas.

Year 2 optional theology modules are also available to choose in year 3.

Develop your CV with our Work Placement module. 

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Compulsory core module (20 credits)
  • Optional theology modules (80-100 credits)
  • Optional modules in other subjects (0-20 credits)

You must pass year 2 which counts approximately one third towards your final degree classification.

Core modules

Abraham's Children: Religion, Culture and Identity
This module seeks to facilitate reflection on religion, identity, and culture within and between Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and modern secularity. A lecture sequence will introduce leading theories of religion and approaches to the ‘other’ from the eighteenth century to today, examine how these theories and approaches developed in response to cultural conflicts and historical events, and introduce some of the qualitative and quantitative research methods used to study religion and secularity today. This will enable students to (1) recognise the legacy of classic theories of religion in contemporary theoretical debates across the humanities, (2) analyse and assess the usefulness of the various theories and approaches for engaging traditions and texts, and (3) plan and conduct their own empirical research projects. The theoretical awareness developed through the lecture series will be put to use in a seminar series, which will be devoted to review of selected texts from V81001 Great Religious Texts I and V81002 Great Religious Texts II through group discussions. The methodological awareness developed through the lecture series will be put to use in a series of methodology workshops. Students will also give two individual 10 minute presentations that are formative and unassessed, one focused on theory and one on method. Students will be provided with guidance on how to give presentations and on where to look for resources to research their presentations. Students will also engage in evaluating their own and others' presentations.

Optional modules

Faith and Identity: Religion in 19th Century Britain

Examine British society during what is often regarded as the last great age of Christian faith, when Britain was at its height as a world power.

Topics covered include:

  • the changing relationship between the established Churches, nonconformity and Roman Catholicism
  • the concept of church reform
  • the internal dynamics of the major Christian denominations
  • the expansion of the Jewish community
  • revivalism
  • crises of faith
  • worship and church building
  • missions
Muslims and Others: Ethics, Theology, and History

Examine the ethical, theological, and historical aspects of Muslim interaction with non-Muslims.

You will:

  • assess Qur’anic attitudes to religious others
  • look at a spectrum of Muslim ethical approaches to social relations with non-Muslims
  • analyse theological exchanges with Christians and Jews
  • explore Muslim theologies of other religions and the eternal destiny of non-Muslims
  • examine shifts in Muslim relations with Christians, Jews and Yazidis in response to modernity and the rise of western power.

Students will read the novel The Qadi and the Fortune Teller set in 19th century Lebanon as a case study in legal, political, and religious relations between Sunnis, Shi‘is, Druze, Christians, and Jews.

Religion and Fantasy

You will:

  • explore the rise and development of the fantasy genre in its historical and theological context
  • investigate the contemporary critical debate about the value and function of religious fantasy.

Authors covered may include:

  • George MacDonald - Christian Platonism in a short tale
  • G. K. Chesterton - The Man Who Was Thursday and his essay, 'Orthodoxy'
  • Charles Williams - The Descent into Hell and his theology of exchange
  • J.R.R. Tolkien - Lord of the Rings and his essay 'On Fairy-Stories'
  • C.S. Lewis - Out of the Silent Planet
  • a collection of modern Jewish fantasy tales, Wandering Stars.

 

20th Century Theology

Examining the major theologians of the last century this module will ask – what is nature, and what is grace? Likewise, what is natural and what is supernatural? This module will explore how theologians (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) have articulated this division and the many profound consequences that have arisen from such attempts This module will trace the development of various heated debates that tackled the above questions and in so doing influenced the shape of twentieth century theology, the idea of secularism, the relation between philosophy and theology, and lastly, between theology and science. 

Intermediate Biblical Hebrew
This module builds on Level 1 introductory Hebrew language modules in developing the ability to handle the text of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), an edition of the Hebrew Masoretic Text with its own invaluable contribution, the critical apparatus. This apparatus has a system of sigla (symbols and abbreviations) that, when learned, enable the Hebrew student to quickly compare variations of the text through the course of written history. The ability to navigate the BHS is key for examining some of the most mysterious and debated concepts in the Hebrew Bible. The basis of the module is the study and translation of individual texts (which will vary from year to year) with analysis of vocabulary, grammar, and style.
Jewish Theology and Philosophy: From Philo to Levinas

The module provides an overview of the most important theological and philosophical ideas, theories and arguments that Jewish thought developed from the Hellenistic period of Philo of Alexandria to the postmodern times of Emmanuel Levinas. The method of instruction will combine historical and speculative approaches, using the perspective of the 'history of ideas'. 

The Eucharist: An Historical Approach

The Eucharist has been known by many names over its history: the ‘Eucharist’, the ‘Agape’, the ‘Divine Liturgy’, the ‘Mass’, the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and ‘Holy Communion’. The variety of names suggests not only its significance for Christians but also the diverse ways in which it has been understood over the past two millennia. In this module you’ll discuss topics such as the practice and development of the Eucharist as well as central disputes and contemporary issues relating to it. 

The Making of Monotheism

Explore the gods, goddesses, and religious traditions of Canaan and Mesopotamia that informed the development of the biblical texts.

You’ll start by learning about:

  • Key figures and hierarchies in the Caananite, Mesopotamian, and Israelite pantheons
  • Fusion of divine beings, including El-Baal, Yhwh-El, and Yhwh-Baal
  • Astral deities

 Next, you’ll move on to consider:

  • Historical, political, and theological catalysts for religious development
  • Strategies of authorship – how texts create a monolatrous/monotheistic tradition in a polytheistic context
  • Whether the Hebrew Bible is, in fact, monotheistic.
The Theology of Paul

Explore the theology of Paul as found in the seven letters that are generally considered to be written by him (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon).

The major themes explored are:

  • law
  • reconciliation
  • justification
  • grace
  • faith
  • sacrifice
  • word of God
  • Christology
  • Israel
  • the church
  • ethics
  • the ‘last things’.
School of Humanities Work Placement

This module embeds employability into the curriculum, giving students direct experience of a workplace, developing hard and soft skills (both subject-specific and beyond).

The module involves part-time professional placement (1 day a week for 6 weeks or equivalent) in an external organisation. It is aimed at developing hands-on work experience and employability skills in a workplace relevant to Arts/Humanities graduates.

Lectures, seminars and workshops will be organised across the School, with input by the Careers team to provide learning support/‘scaffolding’.

The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

At the core of the third year is the compulsory dissertation. This is your opportunity to do an in-depth piece of work on a topic of your choosing.

Apart from that you have a free choice of modules, allowing you to develop your particular interests within theology and religious studies.

Many year 2 optional theology modules are also available to choose in year 3.

You must pass year 3 which counts approximately two thirds towards your final degree classification.

Core modules

Biblical Studies and Theology Dissertation

You will research and write a dissertation on a subject and title selected in consultation with academic staff in the department.

You’ll give a presentation on your research in progress during the course of the spring semester. The presentation will help you to crystallise your ideas and gain a clearer idea of the overall shape of your work in order to help with the writing process and to continue the development of important transferable skills.

You will have regular dissertation tutorials with your supervisor, and will attend dissertation presentations during the Spring Semester.

Optional modules

Intermediate Biblical Greek
This module builds on level 1 Biblical Greek language modules in developing the ability to handle the biblical text in its original languages. The basis of the module is the study and translation of individual texts (which will vary from year to year) with analysis of vocabulary, grammar and style.
Culture and Change: Religion in Twentieth Century Britain
Topics covered are likely to include: the Edwardian age; the birth of ecumenism; the impact of the two World Wars on religion; the implementation of the Second Vatican Council; significant theological trends; the secularisation debate; the growth of multiculturalism from the 1950s; controversies about ordination; the church-state relationship. Attention will be given to the changing fortunes of the established Churches, the Free Churches and Roman Catholicism, and to the patterns of growth of other world faiths in Britain.
Darwinism
What is Darwinism? Is it metaphysics, a philosophy, or ‘merely’ science. Does it entail atheism? Could it even accommodate theism? This module will explore Darwin’s theory of evolution, outlining its historical development up to the present day and considering the various debates that shaped its formation. You’ll explore the theory’s application in terms of Social-Darwinism, Sociobiology, and Evolutionary Psychology and the consequences this might have for our own self-understanding, and for how we interpret the world. The module is taught by Conor Cunningham, whose book  Darwin’s Pious Idea and BBC documentary on the topic have ignited much debate. You’ll have two hours of lectures and a one-hour seminar each week for this module.
Identity, Discipleship and Community in Early Christianity
Using a base of five early church documents reflecting a mix of a. large documents/small documents; b. documents with known authors/anonymous or pseudonymous texts; c. canonical/noncanonical texts; and d. formal/informal texts to see the varying patterns that emerged in early churches with regard to a. their identity as followers of Jesus, b. their understanding of the nature of discipleship, and c. their understanding of themselves as a specific community within history. The documents forming the base are: a. Paul, I Thessalonians; b. The Didache; c. The Gospel according to Mark; d. the text known as I Clement; and e. the text known as I Peter.
Islamic Theology and Philosophy
This module examines how Muslims have addressed fundamental theological and philosophical questions relating to their faith. These questions concern the foundations of religious knowledge and authority, God's unity and attributes, God's relationship to the world, divine determinism and human freedom, prophecy, and eschatology. Key figures will include the rationalist Mu'tazili and Ash'ari theologians, the philosophers Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and the influential medieval intellectuals al-Ghazali, Ibn al-'Arabi, and Ibn Taymiyya. Selections from primary sources will be read in translation, and special attention will be given to the integration of late antique philosophical traditions into Islamic theology.
The Life and Teaching of Jesus
This module provides a historical introduction to the life of Jesus. It will involve a critical evaluation of the relevant sources for Jesus’ life, an overview of developments in the search for the historical Jesus, and a discussion of the perceived tensions between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith.
Modern Jewish Thought
This module will present modern Jewish thought from a theologicophilosophical perspective as an interesting alternative to both Christian and secular models of thinking. Modern Jewish thought emerges from 'the crisis of tradition' (Gershom Scholem) which it tries to resolve in many different ways: either intrinsic to Judaism itself (e.g. Lurianic Kabbalah) or in dialogue with Western philosophy (from Spinoza to Derrida). The module will emphasize the creative impact of Jewish thinkers on the development of modernity by showing the various ways in which these thinkers renegotiate and redefine the most crucial opposition between Athens and Jerusalem, or, in their own rendering, between Yaphet and Shem. Target students: Level 3 Single and Joint Honours Theology and Religious Studies students, exchange and subsidiary students.
Virtue Ethics and Literature
Virtue ethics is an ancient form of moral practice, which has also come back into prominence in recent years. It believes that ethics belongs to the lived experience of a tradition and is therefore narrative in character, offering itself naturally to literary embodiment. We shall study key ancient Greek texts, such as Aristotle's Nichomachaen Ethics and Theophrastus' work on character, as well as Cicero, Aquinas and contemporary reconsturals of the virtue tradition by Alasdair MacIntyre and Stanley Hauerwas. Virtue ethics will then be analysed in literary texts, such as Homer's Iliad, the medieval poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and Graham Green's Brighton Rock. Students will also do a short presentation, applying virtue ethics to a particular moral problem or specific form of activity, e.g nursing, war, or teaching.
Women and Warfare in the Hebrew Bible

Explore a range of historical, ethical, and theological issues relating to women and warfare in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Israel.

You'll start by looking at the Hebrew Bible's portrayals of women and the feminine, including:

  • goddesses
  • biblical queens
  • the role of women in the community.

Next, you'll move on to warfare, considering, for example:

  • the relationship between military victory and righteousness in the Bible
  • the theological implications of YHWH being a god who fights in battle
  • how Judah's greatest ever military defeat became the defining point of its theology."
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

Confirmed July 2020*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

EU tuition fees and funding options for courses starting in 2021/22 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

There are no extra compulsory fees to be paid as part of your course beyond your standard tuition fees. Essential course materials are supplied and recommended reading is available from our libraries.

For voluntary placements (such as work experience) you will need to pay for travel and refreshments.

Scholarships and bursaries

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

We offer a range of Undergraduate Excellence Awards for high-achieving international and EU scholars from countries around the world, who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers. This includes our European Union Undergraduate Excellence Award for EU students and our UK International Undergraduate Excellence Award for international students based in the UK.

These scholarships cover a contribution towards tuition fees in the first year of your course. Candidates must apply for an undergraduate degree course and receive an offer before applying for scholarships. Check the links above for full scholarship details, application deadlines and how to apply.

Careers

The Biblical Studies and Theology BA prepares you for a wide range of roles in professional, academic and faith-based institutions.

You'll also develop key skills that apply to many careers. For example:

  • analysis of texts and complex issues
  • reasoned decision-making and problem-solving
  • sensitivity to cultural and religious diversity
  • ability to communicate effectively

Recent graduates from the Department of Theology and Religious Studies are currently working in areas such as:

  • law, public policy, strategy, and consulting
  • banking and finance
  • postgraduate degrees and academia
  • teaching
  • creative arts and cultural administration
  • police and detective work
  • religious and charitable organisations
  • journalism, advertising, and communications
  • psychology and counselling
  • publishing and editing

Find out more about opportunities for our theology and religious studies students.

Average starting salary and career progression

95% of undergraduates from the School of Humanities secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £20,000 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £32,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates who were available for employment, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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" Through the excellent range of optional modules offered by the department, I have been able to pursue the areas of theology which interest me the most. The way languages are taught in the department is engaging and exciting. "
Daniel Cartwright, BA Biblical Studies and Theology

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18

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.