Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion
Subject overview at Downing
|Average places per year
|3 years - BA (Hons)
IB: 41-43 points overall and 776 at Highe Level
|2 marked essays in different subjects which have been produced during your studies
|1 interview of 40 minutes
Why study Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion at Cambridge?
Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion is an unusually broad course with many options, enabling the study of the major world religions (including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism). Students can look at these from various perspectives, including philosophical, ethical, anthropological, historical, literary and scriptural.
Within this diversity, we enable students to create for themselves a varied programme of study which suits their interests. People come to this course from a wide variety of backgrounds, some religious and some not.
Professional opportunities after Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion, like any other humanities degree, gives students significant transferable skills which are applicable to a wide range of professions. Our recent students have gone on to a wide variety of careers after graduation, including:
- music and theatre
- the Civil Service
- management consultancy
- the armed forces
Why Study Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion at Downing?
In the first year, students are required to take a language paper which introduces them to the study of the central texts of one of the major world religions in the original language: Hebrew, Greek, Qu’ranic Arabic or Sanskrit. All of these courses are designed to accommodate those with no prior experience of language learning. We find that studying an ancient language gives a valuable experience of seeing the world from a different perspective, opening up a deeper understanding of the insights and origins of a religion.
Students in later years have a completely free choice of papers exploring many different topics. A full list of current papers can be found on the Divinity Faculty website. There is also the possibility of moving to the joint track in Modern Religion which is shared with the Department of Social Anthropology.
Downing’s Theology Fellows
The Director of Studies is the College Chaplain and Fellow in Theology, the Revd Dr Keith Eyeons. He works in the College on six days a week during term and it is easy for students to come to see him at short notice.
His PhD was in modern Christian theology, looking at Karl Barth’s use of John’s Gospel in the Church Dogmatics. His first book The Theology of Everything explores the connections between faith and all areas of knowledge and experience, including the relationship between science and religion. His second book The View from the Centre provides an overview of the historical and current debates which divide different groups of Christians.
Also among our Fellows is Dr Joseph Webster, who is an Associate Professor in the Study of Religion at the Faculty of Divinity. He works from an anthropological perspective, carrying out research among contemporary religious groups.
"What does it mean to live a good life? Why am I here? Is religion dangerous? The Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion course enables students to engage critically with the big questions of life both in the present and as they have been answered in the past."
The Revd Dr Keith Eyeons
Who are we looking for?
In recent years, Downing has admitted one or two students each year to read Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion. However, there is no fixed target, so the number of offers made depends chiefly on the quality of those who apply.
Religious Studies A-Level (or equivalent) is not required.
Some of those who enjoy Philosophy A-Level will find that Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion is actually a better fit for their interests than the Philosophy course in Cambridge. Those who have studied History, English Literature or Classical Civilisation will find very obvious connections, and students who have studied the sciences or mathematics are also welcome to apply.
We are looking for students who have the potential to be excellent scholars, rather than people who have already acquired any particular forms of belief or knowledge about religion.
At present, applicants receive one interview lasting about 40 minutes, conducted by two interviewers. Prior to interviews, we ask you to send to the Admissions Office two marked essays, preferably in two different subjects, which you have produced during the course of your studies. These essays may provide a starting point for part of the discussion, but the interview will also range more widely over the candidate’s interest and aptitude for the subject.
How can you find out more about the subject?
Further advice about entry requirements and interviews for all subjects can be found in the Apply to Downing section of this site.