Contemporary Religion MA

The MA Contemporary Religion offers a varied and exciting programme taught by experienced, research active academics. You can expect to be challenged academically as you engage with a range of subjects related to religion in today’s world, and to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the subject. In addition, the course is designed to develop your research and critical thinking skills in order to equip you for future employment or further academic study.

York St John University
Course fees
2018 - 19 Full-time Home & EU students: £4,000, International (non EU) students: £12,500 per annum
Full-time & Part-time options available

Course overview

There are two routes through the programme:

The Research Route is designed for students whose focus is mainly academic research, and who are likely to want to go on to study at doctoral level. You will receive training in doing research at postgraduate level, and your degree will comprise two subject-based taught modules, the research skills module, and a substantial research dissertation.

The Professional Route is designed for students who may not necessarily want to go on to an academic career, but who want to develop their academic skills and professional practice. You will develop a small project related to religion in society, which you may use as part of a dissertation-based research project. You will be taught skills of project management and reflective practice and your degree will comprise three subject-based taught modules, the professional skills module, and a dissertation.

For full-time students modules are delivered on two days of the week.  The contact hours for taught modules are usually two hours a week over a ten week period.   

Course structure

MA Contemporary Religion Programme Specification (PDF, 80.3kB)

Research route: You must take the 30-credit Researching Religion module (delivered over three terms), two 30-credit taught modules (normally one in term 1 and one in term 2), and dissertation modules amounting to 90 credits.

Professional route. You must take the 30-credit Professional Development module (delivered over three terms), three 30-credit taught modules over two terms, and a 60- credit dissertation.

The taught modules currently on offer include:

  • Religion in the Public Sphere
  • Religion and Philosophy in Contemporary Life
  • Religion and Peace-Building

Which of the 30-credit taught modules are delivered in normal teaching hours will depend on staff availability and student demand, and so they may vary from year to year.

The course is mainly aimed at full-time students (though a part-time route is available).

Research route

On the Research route your skills module is delivered over two terms and will help you learn advanced skills in gathering, analysing and communicating research data collected within a humanities or social-science framework. You will create an e-portfolio showing your skill development, and be expected to communicate your dissertation findings to an audience of fellow students as you would for an academic conference.

Professional route

On the Professional route your skills module is delivered over two terms and will help you learn advanced skills in working with people in faith-based contexts. As part of this module would will work with an organisation to devise and implement a small project (which might something like a special acts of worship, changes to worship spaces, social events or study courses). You will create an e-portfolio showing your skill development, and be expected to communicate your dissertation findings to an audience of fellow students as you would for a client group.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching will come in different forms:

Skills modules (Researching Religion and Professional Development) will employ a 'hands on' approach by getting you to do short tasks and exercises in class and between sessions. Some of these will be linked to the taught modules for full time students. You will learn by having to work out how to solve problems and find the information you need in a guided and supported environment.

Taught modules will introduce you to relevant ideas and key theoretical frameworks, exposing you to current research, and helping you to develop independence of thought and self-directed learning. Teaching will involve some lecturing but also extended discussions and debates.

Research modules (dissertations) will be supervised by someone with knowledge in the topic. This kind of teaching offers in-depth individual tutoring that will guide your work on a particular research project.

The University also offers a range of additional learning support services to assist students throughout their studies.

Assessment and Feedback

A range of assessment methods are used during the programme. These include:

1. Written assignments for taught modules and independent studies.

2. Dissertations.

3. Proposals.

4. Portfolios.

5. Presentations.

Written feedback will be given as part of the required assessments which are specified for each module. This will be available three weeks after the assessed work is submitted. In addition, informal feedback (i.e. comment on work that does not include a pass/fail assessment or mark) will be offered in a variety of ways according to the module. For most modules this will be comments on drafts of essays, but for some it might be verbal feedback on class presentations or class exercises.

Research Opportunities

Postgraduate students will have the opportunity to engage with a diverse range of research interests by participating in the research seminars which take place regularly within the School of Humanities, Religion and Philosophy. 

Programme specification

Further information on this course is available in the programme specification. Please note that the programme specification relates to course content that is currently being studied by students at the University. For new programmes, the programme specification will be made available online prior to the start of the course.

Learning support

York St John University works hard to create an inclusive environment for all our students. We offer a range of learning support services to assist students throughout their studies.

Entry requirements


In addition to the University’s general entry criteria for postgraduate study, you must have:

An upper second-class or first class honours degree (or equivalent). This can be in any subject, though priority will be given to students with degrees in Humanities and especially in Theology or Religious Studies.

Applicants with a lower second-class degree and knowledge of Theology and/or Religious Studies may be accepted on to the programme following an interview. This includes applicants who may have a lower second-class degree in another subject area and who have evidence of having studied theology or religious studies at certificate or diploma level (for example as part of ministry training).

International Students

If your first language is not English, you need to take an IELTS test or an equivalent qualification accepted by the University (see University requirements). You must pass at 6.5 or higher in all four aspects of the test (listening, reading, speaking and writing).

International students are admitted through the procedures of the University International Office. The minimum entrance requirement for this programme will be an upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in a subject related to theology or religious studies.

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

UK & EU 2016 / 17

The tuition fee for 2018 entry to this postgraduate course is £4,000 for full-time UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

For part-time options, see the Fees & Funding webpages for more information

Postgraduate Loan: A Postgraduate Loan is available to help you pay for your Master’s course. Find out more about the postgraduate loan.

A 10% discount is applicable to all YSJU Alumni (subject to a minimum of 120 credits and achievement of a recognised award) undertaking PG level study (excludes PGCE).

Overseas 2016 / 17

The tuition fee for 2018 entry to this postgraduate course is £12,500 for international students.

Due to immigration laws, International Students on a Tier 4 visa must be studying full-time. For more information about Visa requirements and Short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration webpages.

International Fees & Funding

How to Apply

You can apply directly to the course via our Apply Now links. Please select the variant of the course that you intend to undertake (e.g. full-time or part-time) as the link will take you to a customised form for the specific course. 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.

Applications for September 2018 entry must be submitted and completed by the start of the academic year.

Apply Now: Full-time - September Start

Apply Now: Part-time

Ask a question

Do you have a question about this course? Fill out our form to send a question to our Admissions team. Alternatively, you can call us on 01904 876922.