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Religious Studies: Religion in Late Antiquity Pathway (MA)

Course Aims

Late Antiquity, the period of history stretching from 200-800AD, is widely regarded as one of the most important times in world history. It witnessed the consolidation and emergence of many of the major world faiths, e.g. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and is a period rich in historical and cultural significance for understanding religion in the modern age.

The Religion in Late Antiquity Pathway provides students with a unique opportunity to develop their understanding of religions in Antiquity (including Paganism, Gnosticism, and Zoroastrianism), and to study in depth the religious and cultural transformations that occurred during this period.

This will be achieved via the theological, historical, and linguistic analysis of texts, archaeology, and artefacts from Late Antiquity. Cardiff University offers unique expertise in Christian origins, Latin and Greek Patristics, Late Roman and Persian imperial history, Syriac language and culture, and Byzantine history.

Optional provision in the teaching of source languages, especially Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Arabic, are particular highlights of the course. On completion of the Religion in Late Antiquity Pathway, graduates will be well-equipped to pursue further research in late antique studies, as well as to teach more broadly across the history of late antique religions and culture.

Course Description

Students taking the MA in Religious Studies: Religion in Late Antiquity Pathway will complete modules comprising a total of 180 credits, including:

  • 40 credits worth of ‘core’ study skills: a 20-credit module that offers generic postgraduate research and study skills training in the Humanities, and a further 20-credit module that offers subject-specific training in the field of Late Antique and Byzantine Religion and Culture.
  • 80 credits from a range of 20-credit language/text and thematic module options. 

60 credit dissertation module, on a topic agreed between the student and tutors.

Core Modules

Skills and Methods for Postgraduate Study

Subject-specific training in Late Antique and Byzantine Religion and Culture

Language and text option modules:

  • Postgraduate Arabic 1
  • Postgraduate Arabic 2
  • Postgraduate Latin 1
  • Postgraduate Latin 2
  • Postgraduate Patristic Latin
  • Postgraduate Greek 1
  • Postgraduate Greek 2
  • Postgraduate Byzantine Greek
  • Postgraduate Hebrew 1
  • Postgraduate Aramaic and Syriac

Thematic option modules:

  • Religion and Culture in Late Antiquity 1
  • Religion and Culture in Late Antiquity 2
  • Rhetoric and Philosophy in Late Antiquity
  • War in the Late Antique and Byzantine World
  • Christians and Muslims under the Caliphate
  • Syriac Christianity
  • Celtic Christianity
  • Magic and Religion in Late Antiquity

 Special Features

The MA in Religious Studies: Religion in Late Antiquity Pathway draws on internationally-recognised expertise in Religion from Late Antiquity to the contemporary era, across a wide geographical area, and with sensitivity to issues in the public eye.  Classes are delivered via small student-focussed tutorials rather than formal lectures, and with individual interests and flexibility in mind.  Students will have a unique opportunity to engage in postgraduate research culture, by participating in activities of the Centre for Late Antique Religion and Culture, CLARC (

Skills Acquired

The following subject-specific and transferable skills are practised and developed in this MA:

  • ability to form a critical understanding of religion, culture and society in the late antique and Byzantine world
  • ability to use and analyse source materials, including non-literary sources, and to appreciate how they have been used in scholarship;
  • ability to identify strengths, weaknesses, problems, and/or peculiarities of alternative interpretations in history, archaeology, history of ideas, theology and religious studies
  • ability to apply a critical approach to the nature of primary archaeological and textual evidence in the assessment of historical interpretations and methodologies
  • ability to communicate ideas and arguments effectively, in speech or in writing, in an accurate, succinct and lucid manner

Career Prospects

This programme is essentially a research preparation Masters programme. Successful candidates have successfully applied for funded places as PhD students.

Beyond that, this programme also enhances the skills and knowledge base acquired through a first degree in Religious Studies. Successful candidates have therefore successfully embarked on careers in a range of employment, such as religious organisations, primary and secondary teaching, print and broadcasting media, and HE administration and management.


“My first contact with Cardiff was at an Open Day. The warm reception and support I received dispelled any worries I had. I applied, and after registering on the first day I worked out a plan with my tutor. Within a few weeks I was stuck into my first essay on a topic in second century Christianity. One year on I am now half-way through my dissertation. While writing my dissertation the Library service has been really great. Whatever the library doesn’t have I have been able to access through a generous and efficient inter-library loan system.

What I value as a part-time student is the flexibility with which I have been able to arrange meetings with my tutor. I find the tutorial approach ideal in that it stimulates my mind. Part-time study also gives me more time for thought and preparation, given the complexity of some of my topics. This has made this programme very enjoyable for me.

The programme also teaches research and presentational skills. In fact it has a lot of things that are surprisingly useful beyond academia.”

Elgan Lawrence, part-time student 2011-2013

“Having been out of the academic world for more than twenty years, I have found the MA in Religious Studies: Late Antiquity Pathway to be academically and personally rewarding. The supervision I have received has been excellent. My supervisors have been immensely flexible and encouraging.  Feedback provided is always constructive and thought-provoking.  This course has enabled me to expand my research repertoire and I would highly recommend it”.

Susie Towers, part-time MA student 2011-12 and current PhD student.

Entry Requirements

1st or upper 2nd class UK Honours degree in an appropriate subject.

The course is suitable for graduates in Religious Studies as well as a wide variety of Humanities and Social Sciences subjects.

Students whose first language is not English will be required to pass an IELTS test (minimum 6.5) or equivalent.

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

Contact Information

Prof Josef Lössl

Position:Professor of Historical Theology and Intellectual History
Photo of Dr Josef Lössl
Telephone: +44 (0)29 208 75499Extension: 75499


Prof Sophie Gilliat-Ray

Position:Professor in Religious and Theological Studies, Director for the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK (Islam-UK)
Photo of Dr Sophie Gilliat-Ray
Telephone: +44 (0)29 208 70121Extension: 70121

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