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Postgraduate course

Professional Doctorate in Religion (DRel)

Explore the intricacies of religious leadership in non-Christian arenas.

stained glass religion church

This is a doctoral qualification designed specifically for religious leaders from non-Christian backgrounds or people working in para-religious organisations such as faith-based charities or NGOs. Explore religious practice, religious leadership, faith traditions and the place of religion in society.

York campus

  • Duration – Part time for 4 to 6 years
  • Start date – January 2021
  • School – School of Humanities

Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:1 undergraduate degree in a relevant subject

    2 years of relevant work experience

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2020-21 £3,750 per year

    International 2020-21 £9,563 per year

Course overview

This doctoral programme introduces you to issues that relate to you as a professional minister embarking on research. You will also addresses issues related to your ministry.

The learning style is informal and collegiate. There is a strong emphasis on enabling you to develop your writing. You will also focus on critically engaging with key ideas, and developing a research project. The collegiality continues into stage two as you write your doctoral thesis. At this point there will be extended opportunities to share ideas and issues with fellow students and supervisors.

An unusual feature of this DRel is that the taught modules are shared with professionals from various backgrounds who are studying for the Professional Doctorate in Education and the Professional Doctorate in Ministry.  You will see how broad theoretical ideas can be applied to specific contexts, and how to apply concepts and ideas to the questions you'd like to explore. In addition, you will use the tools of practical and empirical theology to foster reflection and ensure that your research brings together both empirical and theological insights.

Course structure

Stage 1

This Doctorate course is split into 2 stages.

During stage 1 you will complete 4 taught modules.

This stage is completed over 2 years.


Credits: 45

Compulsory module

The Professional Doctorate programmes are designed to support you in conducting and reporting on an original and substantive piece of research that relates in some way to your professional practice. This module will help you to begin this journey through a series of critical reflections on the links between your biographies and your practice.

Credits: 45

Compulsory module

This module will enable you to continue your journey by helping you to identify the links between a researchable professional issue and the contexts within which it can be located. This could include historical/temporal, geographic/spatial and policy/institutional contexts.

Credits: 45

Compulsory module

In this module you will engage with epistemological, theoretical, practical and ethical decisions and dilemmas that must be considered in order to move from a researchable professional issue to a feasible and defensible research design.

Credits: 45

Compulsory module

Recent guidance highlights that the research output from Professional Doctorates should have a significant impact on professional practice, or the way it is understood, as well as making a contribution to knowledge. This module is designed to support you in ensuring that your research impacts in some way on the conduct or understanding of professional practice. By planning, designing and implementing a small-scale pilot or intervention project you will be able to assess and reflect upon the challenges of bringing about change.

Stage 2

The remaining time is dedicated to stage 2. Typically this will take a further 2 years, but you have up to 4 to submit your thesis and attend a viva.

This stage is dedicated to completing a research thesis of up to 50,000 words.


Credits: 360

Compulsory module

Your doctoral thesis is an individual programme of original research. This will be conducted under the supervision of an academic member of staff. Through this, you will demonstrate your ability to undertake a coherent line of research which would merit publication. You will complete a written thesis of up to 50,000 words and attend a viva.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching is geared to doctoral students. Most sessions consist of seminar-style dialogue and debate. You will be expected to read the set material in advance and staff will work with you to engage with the ideas and discourses that suit your interests and needs.

We consider that as a doctoral student, you will learn best by doing. This will include producing drafts that help you to form your writing style and distinctive researcher voice.

In year 1 you will have fixed points at which you need to submit drafts of your two 8,000-word essays. You will then receive detailed feedback from your course leaders and supervisors. The following year, and the thesis stage, will follow a similar pattern.

The 4 compulsory taught modules are delivered 2 per year, in the first 2 years, over a 4 day teaching block – 1 in February and 1 in May. Outside of these times there are half-days and online  contact which enables you to keep in touch and gain regular feedback.

Entry requirements


Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:1 undergraduate degree in a relevant subject

    2 years of relevant work experience

Entry onto this postgraduate course requires a minimum of a 2:1 undergraduate degree in a related subject.

If your undergraduate degree is not in a related field but you have extensive experience in a related field, your application may still be considered.


We require you to have a minimum of 2 years professional work experience in a position relevant to this award. 

You must currently be in a professional role that is relevant to this award.

The relevance of past and current experience to a particular award will be judged at interview.

International Students

If you are an international student, you will need to demonstrate experience, or qualifications equivalent to those above.

If your first language is not English you must show evidence of English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.


Entry onto this postgraduate course is decided by an interview panel. You will not be admitted solely on the basis of previous awards or professional experience.

We are happy to arrange interviews via Skype for overseas students.

Credit transfer

If you have gained Level 8 credits on other PD programmes, you may be allowed to transfer credit into the PD programme under university credit-transfer rules. To do this you must be able to demonstrate equivalence of learning to the taught modules in the first year of Stage 1 on the course.

All modules on the DAppLing are at doctoral level and master’s level credits will not be allowed as accredited prior learning on this programme. No more than 90 credits may be transferred in this way, and students must complete the final two Stage 1 modules at York St John University.

Fees and Funding

UK & EU 2020-2021

The tuition fee for January 2021 starters on this postgraduate course is £4,875 per year for part time UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

This annual tuition fee will be paid for the first 4 years of the course only.

Postgraduate loans are available to help you pay for your master’s course. Find out more about postgraduate funding opportunities.

International (non-EU) 2020-21

The tuition fee for January 2021 entry to this postgraduate course is £9,563 per year for international students.

This annual tuition fee will be paid for the first 4 years of the course only.

Due to immigration laws, international students on a Student Visa must be studying full-time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

More information about funding your studies is available on our International Fees and Funding page.

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2020-21 £3,750 per year

    International 2020-21 £9,563 per year

Additional costs and financial support


Whilst studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.


View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Apply for this course

Before applying, please ensure that you have identified a potential supervisor, and that you have familiarised yourself with our application guidelines.

Apply now

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