Religious Studies

Religion - PCert, MA


Our MA in Religion provides core training for students wanting to pursue further postgraduate research or research in other contexts.



The programme offers an overview of key theoretical debates in the study of religion, as well as methodological issues and approaches for conducting fieldwork. You also study two modules of your choice, suited to your own specific interests.

You have the opportunity to refine ideas for a research project through your taught modules and dissertation, and you also receive guidance on writing research proposals and seeking funding.

The part-time PCert in Religion enables those working as clergy, social workers, teachers or similar, to study towards a higher level qualification alongside their work. On this programme, you study two modules of your choice from the range within the course structure.

It is possible to register for the Certificate and then transfer to the MA programme.

The Department of Religious Studies

Collectively, the staff at Kent cover all the current methodologies and theoretical approaches (from empirical research to psychology of religion to continental philosophy and history of ideas). As well as offering expertise in all the major ‘world religions’, we are widely recognised for groundbreaking work at the edges of the category of religion as well as for work on the invention of the category of ‘religion’.

Among the many combined subject areas covered in the department are religion and media, religion and politics, religion and comparative literatures, religion and society. For futher details, see staff research interests.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, theology and religious studies was ranked 3rd for research impact in the UK. We were also ranked 7th for research quality and in the top 20 for research intensity and research output.

An impressive 98% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Course structure

The Department of Religious Studies strongly supports cross-disciplinary work and students are encouraged to take advantage of the wide range of postgraduate classes and seminars available both within the School of European Culture and Languages (SECL) and across the University as a whole.

MA structure

On the MA programme, you study four (30 credit) modules over two terms, as well as writing a dissertation.

PCert structure

On the Graduate Certificate, you study two (30 credit) modules of your choice from the range of core and optional modules below.


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Possible modules may include Credits ECTS Credits

The category of religion is hardwired into histories of Enlightenment, modernity, and post-modernity to the point that it is now difficult to discuss any of these periods without negotiating religion as a problem of central importance. This course develops a multidisciplinary mapping of religion as an object of academic research in order to better understand the polemics, politics, assumptions and everyday practices which continue to determine the status of religion. Working with various subfields within the study of religion, this comparative and collaborative course develops new maps of mutual influence, borrowing, translation and struggle between subfields, all of which produced the dominant images of religion within university and popular cultural contexts alike.

Indicative topics include: how and why did the study of religion emerge as a ‘human science’ opposed to earlier research on theology? What cultural and political projects shaped the category of “world religion”? How did scholars of biblical and European traditions react to nineteenth-century developments in the study of Buddhist and Hindu traditions? What were the political tendencies behind modern European and North American denigrations of ritualized practice in favour of religion as the study of “belief”? What were universities roles in establishing the limits and value of the concept of the “secular”, and why are so many academic discussions of religion currently so keen to dislodge the same concept?

Students will learn to engage in sophisticated ways with classic primary texts by those who lastingly shaped the modern invention of the academic study of religion, figures like G. W. F. Hegel, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Max Müller, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Sigmund Freud, Marcel Mauss.

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The focus of this module is on major contemporary developments in the study of religion. Topics to be dealt with include (without being confined to): gender/sexuality; postcolonialism; poststructuralism and critical theory; media; economy; the construction of ‘the secular’; and the contestation of religion as a category of analysis.

Students will focus on key thinkers and debates and key terms and key words (for example, ‘What controversies have developed around terms like “culture” and “belief”?’) The course will also examine the latest developments and controversies in methodologies and theories of religion. These include (without being confined to) textual studies; anthropology; sociology; comparative religion; psychology of religion; media theory; philosophy of religion.

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The curriculum will be structured around classroom sessions which will introduce students to core methodological concepts and debates, key issues in research design and a range of research methods. The overall aim of this module is to provide students with a sufficiently advanced methodological grounding for them to be able to construct well-designed and conceptualised research projects at Masters level, and to have an appropriate grasp of methodological issues to be able to design and begin doctoral level research.

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There is an increasing recognition within the study of religion that understanding social and cultural forms of religion necessarily involves paying attention to the media through which people engage with religion or perform their religious lives. Growing out of early work on religion and film, and new forms of religious media (e.g. televangelism), academic work in this field have broadened out from studying the representation of religion in media texts to thinking more broadly about the significance of media in relation to religion. This has opened up discussions about the ways in which religion is always mediated as well as the implications of different media forms for this process. Whilst still maintaining an interest in the context of media 'texts', this work is therefore opening up questions about the role of practice, aesthetics and the senses in media use as well as broadening what we might think of as 'media' in religious contexts.

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The module will develop an understanding of what in ancient, non-Western, and modern European contexts are the historical and conceptual relationships between therapy, spiritual exercise, medical discourse, the search for wisdom or insight, and the critique of cultural life.

How do the different ancient, non-Western and modern or contemporary traditions imagine happiness, enjoyment, or bliss, and what is the imagined relationship between these states and the goal of therapeutic practice? Might something like a general theory of therapeutics, spiritual exercise, or “anthropotechnics” constitute an overarching category that unites what we normally imagine to be distinct areas of philosophy, psychology, religion, and clinical practice?

This comparative module explores how modern psychological and psychoanalytic therapies have more to do with religious traditions of spiritual exercise than tends to be indicated by academic disciplines, acknowledged by professional therapeutic societies, or actively explored in the development of new therapeutic models.

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The Dissertation module consists of supervised research by the student. Students will develop a project around their own particular research interests.

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Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is by coursework on the taught modules and the dissertation on the MA programme.


The University’s aim that students are able to acquire discipline-specific and transferable skills through the curriculum is at the heart of this new MA programme. Its interdisciplinary nature allows you to specialise as well as prepare for the modern university employment market, where versatility and interdisciplinary is increasingly expected.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The Templeman Library has strong electronic and print collections in religious studies, and a wide range of related disciplines including anthropology, cultural and critical theory, history, literature, philosophy, politics and sociology. Doctoral students are offered research support funds to enable them to attend academic conferences or to meet other costs associated with their research.


Postgraduate students in Religious Studies are expected to play an active role in the training and research culture of the Department as a whole. This includes the Department’s regular research seminar, the advanced theory reading group and other training workshops offered through the year involving internationally recognised researchers.

Postgraduate students have the opportunity to take the Department’s week-long training course in methodological approaches to the study of religion in the spring term, which is also taken by doctoral students from around the UK. Doctoral students are supported with undertaking wider professional development activities, including teaching and writing for publication, that would prepare them for future academic work.

Broader training support is also available through the University’s Graduate School.

Dynamic publishing culture

All staff are involved in writing research monographs and articles, as well as a range of research networking and editing activities. Where appropriate, postgraduate students are helped to publish their own work, either as sole-authored pieces with feedback and guidance from staff, or as co-authored projects written with a staff member.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A first or upper-second class honours degree (or the equivalent) in a relevant humanities or social science subject.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

Meet our staff in your country

For more advise about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English language entry requirements

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Mysticism, religious experience and religious subjectivities

Work within the Department focuses particularly on theory and method of mysticism and religious experience, the psychology of religion, William James, Indian religious thought (particularly Hinduism), and the study of religious subjectivities in late modern societies.

Religion, the sacred and contemporary society

Within the Department, this includes the study of the role of religious NGOs in global civil society, the cultural sociological study of the sacred (including humanitarianism and nationalism), the relationship between religion and late capitalism, and religious engagements with pluralist, secular societies.

Religion, media and culture

The Department has particular expertise in the study of religion and film, including both the religious significance of film as a medium and the critical theological analysis of film texts. Other work explores different forms of the mediation of religion, the material and aesthetic dimensions of religious life, and the significance of news media for the circulation of sacred meanings.

Theory and method in the study of religion

In addition to engaging with current debates about the nature of religious experience and the broader understanding of religion and the sacred, the Department has expertise in a range of theoretical writers and debates within continental philosophy, cultural, critical and social theory, and psychological theory. Research supported within the Department utilises a range of approaches including theoretical research, textual analysis, analysis of visual and material culture, historical research and ethnography.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Ward Blanton: Reader in Biblical Cultures and European Thought

St Paul; the New Testament; continental and European thought.

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Professor Jeremy Carrette: Professor of Religion and Culture

Michel Foucault; William James; critical psychology and religion; globalisation, social theory and religion; politics of spirituality; capitalism and religion; theology and economics; Christian ethics; gender, sexuality and theology. 

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Dr Chris Deacy: Reader in Applied Theology

Theology, religious studies and film; theological/religious perspectives on life after death.

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Dr Jessica Frazier: Lecturer in Religious Studies

Theories and methods in the study of religion; Hindu religious traditions; phenomenology, religious experience, and theories of the self; religion and culture; Islamic liberalism and fundamentalism; Gadamer and continental philosophy.

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Professor Richard King: Professor of Buddhist and Asian Studies

Buddhism and Asian traditions, theory and method; politics and spirituality; the comparative study of apophatic mysticism (Christian, Vedantic, Buddhist); Eastern-inspired New Age spiritualities.

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Professor Gordon Lynch: Michael Ramsey Chair of Modern Theology

The sacred within contemporary culture; religion, media and culture; lived religion; religion and the secular; conservative and progressive religious movements in the West; religion, arts and public cultural spaces.

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Professor Yvonne Sherwood: Professor of Biblical Cultures and Politics

Biblical studies (Old Testament/Hebrew Bible); religion and continental philosophy; genealogies of the religious and the secular.

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Dr Anna Strhan: Lecturer in Religious Studies

Conservative evangelicalism in contemporary society; childhood and religion; religion and the city; religion and education; subjectivity; ethnographic approaches to the study of religion.

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The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Religion - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £6500 £14670
Part-time £3250 £7340
Religion - PCert at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £2170 £4890
Part-time £1085 £2445

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.*

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.


Scholarships and funding information