The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T +44 (0)1227 764000
MA in the Study of Mysticism and Religious Experience
A unique programme of coursework and research available part-time over two years.
Programme convenor: Dr Jessica Frazier
Religious experience and mysticism form a key aspect of religion, both historically and in the modern world. This MA explores many forms of religious experience around the world, drawing on disciplines as diverse as philosophy, theology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, literature and the arts.
It looks at the ways in which personal experience is important for understanding religion itself, and raises questions about the nature of religious experience and the possibility of bringing subjective reality under the lens of academic analysis. We explore a range of approaches, including classic theories of mysticism, and also contemporary views relating to ecstatic experience, the emotions, arts and sensation, practice and every-day life, and ethics and existential concerns. Both Eastern and Western religious traditions will be examined, giving students the opportunity to focus on particular case studies in their own research.
This taught MA programme is distinctive both in subject-matter and in approach, offering students the freedom to work on essays and dissertations tailored to their particular interests, and to develop and exchange ideas with others interested in the importance of personal religious experience.
The course will explore the work of a wide range of thinkers, such as names from the classical study of mysticism such as Rudolf Otto, C.G. Jung, William James, as well as philosophers of religious experience such as Martin Heidegger, Martin Buber, Max Scheler, Emmanuel Levinas, Paul Ricoeur, Paul Tillich, Rudolf Bultmann, Peter Berger, and more recent scholars exploring body, self, emotion, practice, transcendence and other ways of understanding religious experience.
Those following this programme take four 10-week modules (30 credits each) and then write a 12,000-15,000 word dissertation (60 credits). The completion of each module is defined by the submission of a 5000 word essay by the due deadline. The degree of MA is awarded when all five pieces of work have been completed to a satisfactory standard.
Students select a suitable dissertation topic in consultation with the course convenors, building on ideas and interests emerging from seminars, reading and essay work. The completed dissertation, 12-15,000 words in length, is submitted at the end of August.
The Teaching Year
The academic year at Kent comprises two 12 week teaching terms followed by a 6 week examination term. There is no formal teaching in Term 3, but work-in-progress seminars are scheduled for students preparing their dissertations and individual supervision sessions can also be arranged. Students will attend a 2 hour seminar weekly, and may also attend a further hour of tutorial support and discussion.
The University's Templeman Library houses an excellent collection of books and periodicals relating to all the themes represented in the programme. It also provides easy access to the full range of computer-based resources. Staff and students (including past graduates) keep in regular touch with one another via email and the programme's own 'virtual-mystics' discussion list.
The University of Kent campus enjoys an ideal location in the South East corner of England, on the outskirts of the town but within easy reach of the centre. There are good road and rail links to London, which is only 60 miles away; and the European mainland is easily accessible via the nearby channel ports and the Channel Tunnel. Established in 1965, the University has about 12,000 students. The MA in the study of Mysticism & Religious Experience is taught within the School of European Culture and Languages, which is part of the Faculty of Humanities.
Applying for the Programme
Applications are invited from well-qualified graduates, preferably with an academic background in religious studies, theology, philosophy or psychology. Faculty regulations require applicants to submit a recent sample of written work as evidence of their academic competence (a list of essay titles is available from the programme convenor on request). Two academic references are also required.
Some of our graduates stay on at Kent to do further research (MPhil or PhD).
Enquiries are also welcome from those interested in pursuing independent research (for the degrees of MA, MPhil or PhD) in the following subject areas: mysticism, philosophy of religion, phenomenology of religion, psychology and religion, religion and literature, religion and the arts, sacred art and symbolism.