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Postgraduate course

Religion in Society MA, PgDip, PgCert

Interested in understanding the complex interactions between religion and society in the modern world?

Students working

This course emphasises the importance of understanding the current religious climate and the interrelation of secular and religious communities. We consider the representation of religion in the media and popular culture, its activity in the public sphere and its significance for identity and wellbeing.

York campus

  • Duration – 1 year full-time | 2 years part-time
  • Start date – September 2022
  • School – School of Humanities

Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:1 from a related discipline

    6.0 IELTS If your first language is not English

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021-22 £6,500 full time

    International 2021-22 £12,750 full time

Course overview

This is a varied and exciting programme taught by experienced, research-active academics. You will develop your research and critical thinking skills, whether you are motivated by an ambition to pursue employment or further academic study in the field, or by professional development and personal interest.

This programme is supported by the Centre for Religion in Society – established in 2008 at York St John University for practitioners and professionals from across the humanities and social sciences to consider the role of religion in our cultural, social and political life. This unique, interdisciplinary resource will enrich your learning experience and enhance your religious literacy, your understanding of varieties of spirituality and your awareness of religion as it intersects with current and critical issues in the public sphere locally and globally.

Our course is enhanced by a wide range of speakers, including journalists, political activists and religious practitioners, invited to speak at Ebor Lecture Series. You will have the opportunity to explore the interrelation of secular and religious communities in relation to social justice and the complex issues of gender and sexuality, spirituality and mental health.

The interdisciplinary nature of the Centre, the Ebor Lecture Series and the staff in the department enable us to offer this exciting, cutting-edge programme; researching, exploring and debating the pressing and fraught theoretical and practical matters that impact on communities today.

Course structure

How you will study

The course has a flexible structure and choice regarding how many credits you accumulate.

  • All students take the compulsory module, The Changing Face of Religion in Society.
  • 1 additional module leads to a Postgraduate Certificate
  • 3 additional modules lead to a Postgraduate Diploma
  • 3 additional modules plus a dissertation leads to the MA.

Both the MA and the Postgraduate Diploma take one year of full-time study or two years of part-time study. The Postgraduate Certificate takes 6 months of full time study or 1 year of part time study.

You are welcome to get in touch to discuss the options.

Please note that not all modules will run every year.


30 credits


This module is compulsory within the PGCert, PG Dip and MA programmes. It allows you to gain a firm foundation in the study of religion. You will explore the changing relationship between religion and society across contemporary and historical settings. You will also develop essential techniques and methods in the study of religion, so that you will become a skilled researcher in the discipline. The module builds these skills through engagement with the Centre for Religion in Society and its flagship Ebor Lecture series. 

30 credits


The relationship between religious worldviews and ethical life is a central part of many current debates concerning the role of religion in society. Philosophers continue to discuss the legacy of concepts which have their roots in religious traditions, for example the concepts of sanctity, mystery and sacrifice. This module involves a conceptual exploration of issues at the intersection between religion and ethics, through an examination of the concept of "the good life". You will be introduced to the complex ways that philosophical and religious thinkers have influenced how we think about good and evil in human life.

30 credits 


Gender and sexuality have long been debated by feminist scholars, and these themes are pervasive in current public debates concerning trans rights and non-binary status. Sexuality has long been a sticking point for faith groups, with women’s rights and same-sex marriage coming into conflict with religious hierarchies, doctrines and traditions. This module is an opportunity to explore the intersection of feminist philosophy, theology and ethics.

 30 credits


Governmental and healthcare bodies are increasingly mandating over spiritual health and spiritual needs. Healthcare and other professions find themselves obliged to address spiritual rights within a public context. This has led to competing notions of the spiritual (some religious, other secular) as well as uncertainty amongst professions and religious practitioners as to how best meet these requirements in the face of tensions between the private and public face of spirituality and its relationship to religion. Spirituality is now a key component in the contemporary discussion of the place of religion within society.

30 credits 


Popular culture, in its many forms, offers a relevant and dynamic focus for studying religion and emerging spiritualities. Many religious organizations also now recognize the value of using popular culture to express their beliefs and practices. One significant aspect of the interface between religion and popular culture is digital media, both inside and outside of established religions, which is increasingly dominating personal and public spaces as the mediator of mainstream media, cultural outputs and popular opinion. By exploring the intersections between religion and popular culture you will encounter additional interdisciplinary methods and perspectives for the study of religion in society.

30 credits 


This module explores the ways in which religion can build peace in contemporary societies. Religion can be the cause of conflict and it can be the cause of peace. Numerous examples across the world show the important contribution that faith-based approaches to peacemaking are having, especially at a grass-roots level in promoting peace and reconciliation. 

30 credits 


The public nature of religion has been considered in recent years as a way for religious communities to participate in the public domain and to converse with citizens on issues wider than religious matters. This module addresses key concepts including the public sphere and public conversation (critical within public theology). The public face of religion is increasingly contributing to the formation of personal decisions and collective policy-making in economic, political, religious and social realms. This module explores an important area within the discipline and in which the department has a particular expertise.

30 credits 


This module allows you to study prior to your dissertation a specific topic that interests you in the field of religion in society. You may have particular interests that is not covered by the taught modules available to you and may wish to forgo class-based teaching sessions in order to pursue your interest through supervised guided reading and independent study. Such study requires that you are able to work with a high level of self-motivation and independence. The aim is for you to meet regularly with a tutor, who will guide topical reading and the answering of a set essay question.

60 credits 


Master's qualifications normally require evidence of the ability to carry out a research project through independent study. This module involves the writing of a substantial dissertation based on independent postgraduate-level research in a specific area of concern for religion in society. The dissertation enables you to demonstrate the accumulated independent research and writing skills you will have gained on the master’s programme. Skills acquired in research, critical analysis and written expression are consolidated and demonstrated by the dissertation. 

All modules are subject to availability. Not all modules will run every year. 

Teaching and assessment

The aim of all of our teaching is to help you become a more nuanced critical thinker and analytic writer, to challenge you to consider new ideas and concepts, and to support you in understanding the complex connections between religion and society. The MA is taught by weekly two-hour seminars for each module.

You will have the opportunity to discuss the weekly readings with your tutor and with the rest of the group, in a friendly and intellectually stimulating learning environment. Student Services offer help with study skills, research skills and academic writing. Students will also have the opportunity to work with Royal Literary Fund Fellows to improve their written communication.

You will encounter a range of assessment types including essays, annotated bibliographies, reflective writing, blogs and presentations. Assessment opportunities are designed to help you develop your skills as a writer, researcher, and critical thinker, and also to help you prepare for future employment or enhance current employment and interests.

Most modules are assessed by coursework (6,000 words) and you will have the chance to discuss your ideas and receive formative feedback throughout the term. In the MA, the dissertation is the intellectual culmination of your Postgraduate experience. You will begin by submitting a dissertation proposal and then work with your supervisor until you submit your final (12,000 word) piece. This process helps you to become an independent researcher and you will be required to manage your own academic project.

Entry requirements


Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:1 from a related discipline

    6.0 IELTS If your first language is not English


Entry onto this postgraduate course requires a minimum of a 2:1 undergraduate degree. This can be in any subject but priority will be given to those with a degree in humanities or Theology and religion. 

If you have a 2:2 undergraduate degree and knowledge of Theology and/or Religious Studies you may be accepted on to the course following an interview.

If you have a 2:2 undergraduate degree in an unrelated subject but have studied theology or religious studies at certificate or diploma level you may be accepted on to the course following an interview.

International Students

International students will need to demonstrate that they have equivalent experience /qualifications as home students (ie the same entry criteria as above).

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

We are happy to arrange interviews via skype for international students.

APEL policy

If you can't meet these minimum requirements it may be possible to take into account evidence of Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) as an alternative method of meeting the programme’s entry requirements. In such a case, appropriate references and records of employment might be presented to support the applicant’s case for admission.

Fees and Funding

UK and EU 2022 - 2023

The tuition fee for 2022 entry to the full MA course is £6,500 for full-time UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

For UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students studying part time, the tuition fee for 2021 entry to the full MA course is £3,250 per year.

If you choose to study the Postgraduate Diploma only, the total cost for 2022 entry is £4333.

If you choose to study the Postgraduate Certificate only, the total cost for 2022 entry is £2167. 

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

International (non-EU) 2022 - 2023

The tuition fee for 2022 entry to this postgraduate course is £12,750 for international students.

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 2021-22 £6,500 full time

    International 2021-22 £12,750 full time

Alumni Scholarships

If you are an alumni of York St John University we have scholarships available to help you continue your studies.

Scholarships for Alumni

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

You can apply directly to the course via our Apply Now links. You will need to create a login and password and complete the online form. Please contact two referees in advance of submitting your application as an automated request will go out as soon as you submit, and your application will not be reviewed until both references are in place.

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