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A PhD in Theology and Religious Studies enables you to undertake a substantial piece of supervised research in the subject that makes an original contribution to knowledge and is worthy of publication.
A PhD, also known as a doctorate, is a requirement for a career as an academic or researcher. In addition, it has become a qualification valued by many employers who recognise the skills and commitment a PhD requires. Employers also recognise that a PhD indicates excellent research capabilities, discipline and communication skills.
Over the duration of the PhD, you produce an original piece of research of up to 100,000 words. Recent and ongoing research theses include: ‘A Theology of Interconnectivity: Buber, Dialogue and Cyberspace’, ‘Ghosts in the Machine: Reassessing the Evolution of the Science/Religion Phenomena - Alternative Perspectives’, ‘Heart of the Flame: Rethinking Religion and the Theatre Work of Jerzy Grotowski’, ‘The Politics of Opposites and Same-Sex Union: A Foucaultian reading of the Hermetic Hermaphrodite’ and ‘Sacred Entanglements: Studying Interactions between Visitors, Objects and Religion in the Museum’.
The Department of Religious Studies offers supervision from world-class academics with expertise in a wide range of disciplines, able to support and guide you through your research. Your progress is carefully monitored to ensure that you are on track to produce a thesis valued by the academic community. Throughout your programme, you are able to attend and contribute to research seminars, workshops, and research and transferable skills training courses.
You may be eligible for a fully-funded PhD scholarship to support your studies with us. The PhD in Theology and Religious studies at Kent can be funded through the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) collaborative doctoral partnerships. Please indicate in your application if you want to be considered, and explain your eligibility for the scheme. For the full list of scholarships available within the School, please see our postgraduate funding page.
A first or upper-second class BA honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject, and a distinction or merit in an MA programme or equivalent in a relevant subject.
You are expected to provide a strong research proposal at the time of application.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
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.
Duration: 3 to 4 years full-time, 5 to 6 years part-time
The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
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.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.
Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Theology and Religious Studies research was classified as ‘world-leading’ for impact. An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 90% of our research environment was classified as ‘world leading’.
Following the REF 2021, Theology and Religious Studies at Kent was ranked 5th in the UK in the Times Higher Education.
Work within the Department focuses particularly on theory and method of religion, with staff specialising in the following areas:
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.
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.
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.
Understanding Unbelief is a major new research programme aiming to advance the scientific understanding of atheism and other forms of so-called ‘unbelief’ around the world. Its central research questions concern the nature and diversity of ‘unbelief’.
Kent’s world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. The academic staff in this school and their research interests are shown below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the school to discuss your proposed research and potential supervision prior to making an application. Please note, it is possible for students to be supervised by a member of academic staff from any of Kent’s schools, providing their expertise matches your research interests. Use our ‘find a supervisor’ search to search by staff member or keyword.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
The Department of Religious Studies at the University of Kent provides the highest standards of graduate training in the UK. It is the only department in its subject area to have received two national grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to support specialist training for doctoral students.
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. See the 'Staff research' tab for more details.
The Department 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.
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.
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. The Journal of Hindu Studies, published by Oxford University Press, is edited from the Department. Details of recently published books can be found within our staff research interests.
Kent's Graduate School co-ordinates the Researcher Development Programme for research students, which includes workshops focused on research, specialist and transferable skills. The programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management skills.
Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.
T: +44 (0)1227 768896
Department of Religious Studies, Division of Arts and Humanities
T: +44 (0)1227 824792