Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


MA Religious Studies (MA)

Course Aims

The MA in Religious Studies and its associated Pathways, provide the ideal progression from a degree in Religious Studies (or related Humanities subjects) into a research degree.  Through a carefully-structured programme of modules that offer an introduction to postgraduate research and study skills, as well as subject-specific training, students can prepare themselves for future postgraduate research, as well as a range of relevant careers, such as religious education teaching, print and broadcasting media, and employment in religious organisations.

Course Description

The Department of Religious Studies and Theology at Cardiff has particular strengths in the linguistic and textual study of religions.  As a centre of excellence with a particular concentration of specialist and internationally-recognised religious studies scholars, students enrolled on the MA in Religious Studies will be introduced to the interdisciplinary study of religion at postgraduate level from world-leading researchers.

Students taking the MA in Religious Studies usually follow a particular Pathway through the programme that reflects the distinctive expertise of staff in the Department of Religious Studies & Theology at Cardiff.  These Pathways will help students to develop their understanding of one of the following:

Available Modules

There are a wide range of possibilities for students to adopt a flexible programme of learning, according to their individual interests and skills. Depending on the Pathway selected, students taking the MA in Religious Studies 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  
  • 80 credits (4x20) from a range of 20-credit language / text / thematic optional module
  • 60 credit dissertation module, on a topic agreed between the student and tutors.

Within the MA in Religious Studies, students can choose to follow one of three distinctive Pathways through the programme.  Available modules within these Pathways include:

Asian Religions Pathway

Core modules: 

  • Skills and Methods for Postgraduate Study
  • Themes and Approaches in Asian Religions

Option Modules:

  • Postgraduate Sanskrit 1
  • Postgraduate Sanskrit 2
  • Asian Religions 1
  • Asian Religions 2
  • Religion and Myth in Contemporary Cinema
  • Myth and Ritual
  • Myth and Narrative
  • Myth, Religion and Culture


Religion in Late Antiquity Pathway

Core Module: 

  • Skills and Methods for Postgraduate Study
  • Themes in the Study of Late Antique and Byzantine Religion and Culture

Option Modules:

Language and text options

  • 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 options

  • 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


Myth, Narrative and Theory Pathway

Core module: 

  • Skills and Methods for Postgraduate Study
  • Approaches to Myth, Narrative and Theory

Option modules:

  • Religion and Myth in Contemporary Cinema
  • Myth and Ritual
  • Myth and Narrative
  • Myth, Religion and Culture
  • The Early Celts
  • Celtic Mythology and Religion
  • Ethnicity in the Ancient World
  • Epic Warriors: Achilles, Beowulf and Beyond
  • Gender, Sexuality and Society in Ancient Greece and Rome
  • Self,  Family and Nation 1
  • Self, Family and Nation 2

Special Features

The MA in Religious Studies provides a thorough introduction to postgraduate level study of religions via three Pathways that reflect the distinctive international expertise of staff in the Department of Religious Studies & Theology.  Through small, student-focused tutorials, rather than formal lectures, students have unprecedented access to world-leading researchers.  In addition, students have the opportunity to participate in, and contribute to, the postgraduate culture of the Department, and the wider School of History, Archaeology and Religion.  A number of graduates of the MA in Religious Studies have applied competitively and successfully for funded places as PhD research students.  This recognises the expertise of Cardiff University staff in the wider academic community, and the quality of teaching provided via the MA programme.

Skills Acquired

Students who successfully complete the MA in Religious Studies will be able to engage in a critical understanding of religion, culture and society, both historically and in the contemporary period.  Through the course, students will appreciate how to use and analyse source materials, including non-literary sources, and to appreciate how they have been used in scholarship.  We place particular emphasis on an ability to identify strengths, weaknesses, problems, and/or peculiarities of alternative interpretations in history, archaeology, history of ideas, theology and religious studies.  By the end of the programme, students will have enhanced their capacity 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 traditionally been able to apply competitively and successfully for funded places as PhD research students.

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


"Undertaking the MA in Religious Studies (Asian Religions) at Cardiff University was a truly rewarding and fulfilling experience. I was able to learn there from renowned scholars in the field, who were at the same time so encouraging and supportive. Every tutor was always very willing to exchange knowledge and ideas and this was one of the most gratifying things about the course, one that has inspired me to continue my studies further. Up to this day I still find support and encouragement from the people in the Religious Studies Department."

Paloma Muñoz, 2009-2010

I don't think that I have developed so much in a single year as I have on this course, and am certain that it has put me in good stead for the future.”

Craig McEwan, 2011-12

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 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

Find Undergraduate courses

Find Postgraduate courses