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Religious Studies - BA (Hons)

UCAS code V616

This is an archived page and for reference purposes only


Today, religious issues are everywhere – from current affairs and international events, to the history of ideas, art and literature. An understanding of religions and their influence can help you to make sense of life in the 21st century and give you new insight and perspective on the major issues of the day.



The Department of Religious Studies is part of Kent’s School of European Culture and Languages. Staff in the department have a range of interests in the field, including expertise in Asian Studies, which means they can offer you an insight into world religions.

Our campus is in Canterbury, a well-known centre in world religion, and the University has strong links with the Cathedral library and archives.

Our degree programme

Religious Studies at Kent is a varied programme covering world religions and also other areas such as psychology and film.

In your first year you take one compulsory module, which asks ‘What is religion?’
You can choose options from introductory modules in Judaism and Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, Christianity, or assess religion in contemporary society.

In your second and final years, you can choose to study particular world religions in more depth and can also take modules that look at areas such as religion and film or explore how different writers, from ancient times right up to the present day, have read the Bible as a temporal or political code.

At all stages of your degree it is possible to choose ‘wild’ modules from across the Faculty of Humanities. You can also apply to take a placement module, where you can gain teaching experience in a secondary school. The placement modules are subject to a selection process.

Year abroad/placement year

You can apply to spend a year abroad as part of your degree programme. Studying abroad is a great opportunity to discover a new culture and demonstrates to future employers that you have the enthusiasm to succeed in a new environment. It is possible to spend a year or a term abroad at one of our partner institutions. You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent but certain conditions apply. It is also possible to undertake a placement year in industry. 

See Kent’s Go Abroad pages for more details, or the Placement Year information from the Faculty of Humanities.

Independent rankings

Religious Studies at Kent scored 90.3 out of 100 in The Complete University Guide 2019

In The Guardian University Guide 2019, over 86% of final-year Religious Studies students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.

Teaching Excellence Framework

All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

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Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘elective’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 1

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

This module will introduce students to discussions about the definition of religion and to some of the disciplines in which religion is studied, with special reference to the differences between Theology and Religious Studies. Particular consideration will be given in the initial weeks to the phenomenological approach and to the efficacy of Ninian Smart's dimensions of religion. In the following weeks, the module will be focused on the comparative study of religion (with reference to Eliade), the sociology of religion (with reference to Durkheim, Weber and Marx) and the psychology of religion (with reference to Otto, James, Freud and Jung). The module will also host a study skills session to be run in conjunction with the Student Learning Advisory Service, the aim of which is to equip students with key study skills in the areas of writing essays, referencing and plagiarism-prevention.

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Optional modules may include Credits

The curriculum will be structured to introduce students to a range of key theories and debates which provide a basic framework for the social and cultural study of contemporary religion. Each session will introduce students to a particular theory or debate, using panel presentations in the seminars to get a small group to present their initial understanding and questions of relevant introductory literature. Throughout the module, students will be helped to see possible connections between these various theories and debates, as well as think about current issues to which these theories and debates might be relevant.

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This module provides an historical introduction to the philosophical, religious and cultural traditions of East Asia. It will provide a foundation for understanding the historical development, key concepts and important practices of the major worldviews of East Asia with specific reference to traditions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto and other animist traditions.

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This module provides a cross-cultural introduction and exploration of philosophical, religious and cultural traditions which have shaped and informed historical and contemporary ethical judgements and notions of the good life. From ancient Asian, Greek, Jewish, Christian and Islamic philosophies inspired by thinkers such as the Buddha, Plato, Jesus and Mohammed, to modern secular philosophies such as humanism and Marxism, humans have articulated a variety of approaches to ethics, politics, spirituality, and the relationship of the individual to society, in many cases developing legal frameworks for the regulation of issues of ethical concern in areas such as human rights, wealth distribution, medical ethics, the environment and human sexuality.

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This module provides a thematic introduction to selected topics and debates that span global philosophical, religious and cultural traditions. It will explore issues such as the nature of reality, of the self, and of goodness or value, the foundations of ethics and the ideal society, and the goals of life in a variety of worldviews. Cross-referencing cultural traditions with broader theoretical and philosophical debates, it seeks to provide a foundation for understanding key concepts and themes found within the world's traditions of philosophy and religion, and exploring their implications for fundamental debates about truth, society, psychology and the good life.

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The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, through a consideration of their key concepts, ideas, texts and practices (such as bhakti, moksha, yoga, dharma). The first half of the module will examine some of the most interesting features of the Vedic and post-Vedic tradition: the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the polytheism of the Mahabharata. The second half will examine the contrasting philosophical positions of the Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions using materials from the Pali canon and several Sanskrit Sutras. Particular attention will be given to the variety of interpretations of the Buddhist 'No-self' doctrine and concept of enlightenment as well as the meaning and function of the Buddha’s career.

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This course investigates the beliefs and practices of Jews and Muslims in the world today. Topics in Judaism include the life and work of the Patriarchs, the concept of the 'chosen people', the Promised Land, the Torah, synagogue, Jewish festivals and the Jewish home. In the case of Islam, topics include the life and work of Muhammad, the Five Pillars, the Qur'an and Hadith, Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, Sufism, the Shariah and the Islamic contribution to the arts and sciences.

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You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage

Stage 2

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

This module provides an introduction to the theoretical, methodological and socio-political issues pertaining to the cross-cultural and comparative study of philosophies, ideas, worldviews and religions. It will introduce and explore theoretical frameworks and methodological questions related to the translation and representation of ideas, texts and worldviews as explored by different theories of interpretation. It will also explore issues surrounding understanding rituals, cultural practices and modes of identity formation and reflect upon the nature of 'the global' and ‘globalisation’ as categories. Questions to be explored in this module would normally include: how does one determine the meaning of a text? What hermeneutic, ethical and political issues arise when translating a concept, idea or practice from one linguistic, cultural or historical context into another? What are the challenges and pitfalls of comparative analysis? How do ideas, texts and forms of identity take on new meanings in the global circulation of ideas, practices and people? How does the mode of media/technology (oral composition, printed text, film, digital representation) impact upon thinking and its interpretation?

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Optional modules may include Credits

The aim of this module is to enable students to understand and evaluate the range of models by which film and religion may be employed as conversation partners and to provide them with the tools necessary for exploring critical links between theology/religious studies and the medium of film. The course will begin with an examination of the methodological, conceptual and disciplinary issues that arise before exploring in critical depth the historical relationship between religion and film, with specific reference to the reception (ranging from prohibition to utilisation) of film by different religious groups. There will be a focus on particular categories of film and categories and models of religious and theological understanding, allowing students taking this module to develop the critical skills helpful for film interpretation and for exploring possible religious and theological approaches to film criticism.

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This module will enable students to analyse and understand the development of Christian theology over the last two hundred years. We will be critically evaluating the significance and contribution of a number of leading twentieth century theologians from a variety of denominational backgrounds and endeavouring to understand to a sophisticated degree the changes in Christian thought and practice in a variety of situations in the twentieth century.

The module will begin by surveying the main strands of post-Enlightenment Christian theology, including the contributions of Kant, Schleiermacher and Feuerbach. There will be a detailed focus of two of the 'Death of God' theologians from the twentieth century, Thomas Altizer and William Hamilton. We will then critically evaluate the significance of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his influence (with particular reference to Harvey Cox and John A.T. Robinson); Liberal Protestantism and the rise of Neo-Orthodoxy, with particular reference to Paul Tillich and Karl Barth; Rudolf Bultmann and his programme of demythologisation; and an interrogation of the Christian understanding of 'hope' with specific reference to Jürgen Moltmann. The module also involves a study of key theological movements, in particular Liberation Theology, Black Theology and Feminist Theology.

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The primary aims of this module are to give students a critical grounding in current cultural theories of the sacred, to provide them with opportunities to explore how these concepts relate to contemporary social and cultural phenomena, and to reflect on how this process might help us to refine cultural theories of the sacred. The module will enable students to distinguish between ontological and cultural theories of the sacred, and will introduce them to key cultural theorists of the sacred such as Durkheim, Shils, Bellah, and Alexander. A range of cases will also be explored to provide students with opportunities to think about how relevant concepts might relate to specific social and cultural phenomena, and to provide a basis for the analytical work they undertake in their assessed work.

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This module will explore the theme of 'Biblical Codes' from two angles.

Firstly, we will be exploring how different writers and groups (some of them inside the Bible, some of them outside it) have read the Bible as temporal or political code. For example, the biblical book of Daniel attempts to decode the book of Jeremiah, which had already become deeply mysterious to ancient readers. Similarly, the New Testament 'deciphers' biblical prophecy and motifs by applying them to Jesus or the Roman Empire. At the other end of the time spectrum, we find bestsellers like Michael Drosnin's The Bible Code (1997), Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye's attempts to decrypt biblical visions of the end of time by way of contemporary global politics, or recent readings of the book of Ezekiel as prophecies about UFO’s. Techniques of decryption are also built into central developments within Jewish and Christian traditions. In fact, what is often called the history of 'hermeneutics’ could also be described as the history of 'How not to read literally’. We will be looking at a range of examples of such developments by focusing on readers like Philo of Alexandria, Augustine of Hippo, or Jewish Kabbalah.

Secondly, we will undertake some in-depth readings of prophecy, apocalyptic, or wisdom texts—the ones that readers of the Bible find most difficult to ‘decode’. Texts to be studied will be taken from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Pseudepigrapha. We will be exploring the contexts that produced these literatures and thinking about how to read (decipher?) them across the abyss of time.

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The Bible is commonly thought of as a book that has got its story together, and a bastion of monotheism. We think of the Bible as the very opposite of the projects of Comparative Literature and Comparative Religion: one book, one literature, and one God. However, as soon as we start reading we discover a library of divergent books, literatures and gods. The bulk of the 'books' in the Bible pre-date structures like the codex and the author. They borrow, often very explicitly, from other literatures: for example, Wisdom Literature and Proverb Collections from Egypt and Mesopotamia, Greco-Roman novels and philosophical tracts.

Through a series of selected readings, students will critically engage the question of the comparative, the plural and the foreigner by looking at topics including (but not limited to) the question of the other, or the outside on the Bible's inside; other literatures from which the Bible borrows (e.g. the Epic of Gilgamesh or Lives of the Philosophers); narratives that are 'othered', doubled or tripled within the Bible (inner-biblical mimicry); and examples from modern literature, film and philosophy that adapt and respond to biblical narratives, tropes and gods.

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This module will examine the theme 'Global Christianities' through the lenses of the anthropology of Christianity and the sociology of religion. We will explore the ways in which we can see Christianity as a cultural product, and how Christianity has shaped different cultures and societies globally, as well as how the religion has been shaped by and through encounters in different local settings. We will look at the history of the globalization of Christianity, and consider the historical, political and economic effects of local missionary encounters. The course will examine the processes of conversion to Christianity in different contexts, both at the level of individual and broader social group, and how these have been understood in relation to concepts of 'modernity'.

The course will draw attention to the relatively recent emergence of the anthropology of Christianity in relation to the broader disciplines of anthropology as a discrete area of study and how this relates to the study of Christianity as a global phenomenon within sociology. We will consider the ways in which these disciplines have constructed and objectified 'religion' as an object of study in ways that have historically occluded the social scientific study of Christianity in different global contexts.

The course will address some of the main debates in the anthropology of Christianity, deepening understanding of global Christianities through exploring studies of Christian cultures in diverse ethnographic contexts. The topics addressed may include: culture and conversion; globalization and localisation; interrelations between Christianity, subjectivity and language; embodied and emotional forms of different Christianities; concepts and experiences of God; mediation, immanence and transcendence; coherence and fragmentation; gender, sexuality and the family. Through engaging with readings on these areas, we will explore the socio-religious power-dynamics of Christianity in relation to both culturally dominant and marginal traditions.

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This module explores the cultural specificity and diversity of Asian cultures, traditions, social and political systems and literature from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The topic of Asia will be approached on a thematic basis but with particular emphasis on an understanding of the historical and interpretive challenges to inter-cultural understanding between Asia and Europe/ the West.

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This module explores the cultural specificity and diversity of Japanese culture, traditions, social and political systems and literature from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The topic of Japan will be approached on a thematic basis but with particular emphasis on an understanding of the historical and interpretive challenges to inter-cultural understanding between Japan and Europe/the West.

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You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage

Year in industry

You have the opportunity to undertake a placement year, either at home or abroad, between the second and final year of your degree and to receive credits and a dedicated award for this achievement.

The placement year enables you to gain work experience in a professional environment, and to develop employment-related skills and qualities such as independent thought, personal responsibility and decision-making.

The placement can be either paid work or an internship. Tuition fees for the placement year are greatly reduced, and employers may offer expenses or a salary. The year is assessed on a pass/fail basis through employer feedback and a written report that you submit.

Year abroad

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally.  You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.

You can apply to add a Year Abroad to your degree programme from your arrival at Kent until the autumn term of your second year.  The Year Abroad takes place between Stages 2 and 3 at one of our partner universities.  Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme.  For a full list, please see Go Abroad.

You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the Year Abroad.  The Year Abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification.

Stage 3

Optional modules may include Credits

This module explores the cultural specificity and diversity of Japanese culture, traditions, social and political systems and literature from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The topic of Japan will be approached on a thematic basis but with particular emphasis on an understanding of the historical and interpretive challenges to inter-cultural understanding between Japan and Europe/the West.

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Students are required to identify a viable research focus or question for their project which they will then pursue, with supervisory support, in order to submit their final dissertation. In the summer before joining the module, students will be given advice on how to identify their research focus, and by the start of the autumn term in which the module begins they will be expected to have produced a single side of A4 summarising key literature or other sources relevant to their specific project. Individual supervision will begin from the autumn term onwards. Initially this is likely to focus on clarifying the research focus or question, and situating it more deeply in existing literature and debates. Following this a clearer outline plan for conducting the research will be developed, with students then undertaking work necessary to meet each phase of this plan. If the project involves original fieldwork, the student will be expected to submit a research ethics application form for Faculty approval. As the project develops, chapter drafts will be submitted for review and discussion with the supervisor. Supervision contact time is likely to vary according to the project and student need, but will not exceed a total of 6 hours per student (including face to face supervision or time spent writing written feedback to electronically-submitted drafts). Supervisors will provide feedback on chapter drafts, which will need to be submitted to supervisors in good time before supervision meetings, but will not provide feedback on whole draft manuscripts once chapters are completed.

Supervisors will only provide supervisory support during term-time. Once the project has been agreed and a supervisor allocated in the autumn term, students will not normally be allowed to change their fundamental focus of their project (although their specific questions are likely to change as the project develops) or change their supervisor unless in highly exceptional circumstances.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine and other forms East Asian medicine have become available to patients everywhere in the world as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), but their cultural backgrounds are mostly misunderstood by patients, providers and adversaries. This module explores the historical emergence of East Asian medical systems, their relations to philosophical and religious worldviews and practices, their trajectories from the East to the West, and their relations, interactions and clashes with bio-medicine.

In this module, we read passages from foundational literature such as the Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor (in English translation) and discuss key texts in which Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese doctors argue about the nature of health and medical ethics. We also compare different views of the body, illnesses and therapeutic intervention, and examine the importance of "tradition" in East Asian medicine, Early Modern exchanges with Western medicine and the transformation and globalisation of East Asian medical systems in the twentieth and twenty-first century. Applying comparative and genealogical methods, we discuss East Asian medicines in terms of efficacy, culture, politics and economics and reflect on healthcare, in general, from (multi)cultural perspectives.

View full module details
You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage

Teaching and assessment

You are usually taught in small groups, with most modules involving either two or three hours per week in class, plus individual consultations with teachers as well as sessions on computing and library skills.

Stage 1 modules are normally assessed by 100% coursework. At Stages 2 and 3, some modules are assessed by 100% coursework (such as essays), others by a combination of formal examination and coursework.

Contact Hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • increase knowledge of religious ideas and institutions as found in a diversity of cultural settings both past and present
  • explore and discuss religious ideas and institutions, through texts and historical data as well as direct observation of the contemporary world
  • develop critical understanding of a sympathetic insight into the diversity of religious life, both as it has shaped and been shaped by, other factors within culture and history.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the place, role and influence of religion, and religions, in human culture - particularly the culture of Europe
  • the role and significance of religion within human experience
  • the relationship between the study of religion and other branches of the humanities and social sciences
  • the main approaches and methodologies characterising the critical study of religion, and its influences, as defined by the secular context of the University.

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual abilities:

  • evaluation of empirical data
  • analysis and interpretation of relevant textual resources
  • assessment of alternative theories and interpretations
  • ability to construct and defend arguments and conclusions in a coherent manner.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in the following:

  • sensitive and critical evaluation of religious data within their proper historical and cultural contexts
  • sympathetic appreciation of the ideas and practices of other groups and individuals
  • ability to articulate the multiple connections between experiences, ideas, practices and institutions in the appreciation and understanding of religion and religions.

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in the following:

  • research and writing
  • computing and IT
  • effective formal and informal communication
  • working creatively and flexibly, on your own or with others
  • time management, especially under pressure
  • performance evaluation.


Graduate destinations

Recent graduates have gone into areas such as:

  • teaching
  • publishing
  • travel
  • advertising
  • personnel
  • diplomacy
  • social work
  • journalism
  • media
  • marketing
  • the legal profession.

Many of our students choose to move on to further study at Master’s or PhD level.

Help finding a job

The School of European Culture and Languages runs its own employability programme to help you develop your professional skills. This includes paid and voluntary work opportunities.

The University also has an award-winning Careers and Employability Service, which can give you advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

Career-enhancing skills

As well as an excellent grounding in your subject, you also develop the key transferable skills that graduate employers look for. These include:

  • excellent communication skills
  • organisational and research skills
  • the ability to analyse problems
  • teamworking.

You can also gain additional skills by signing up for our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a new language or volunteering.

If you choose to take the year abroad option, you further increase your skills by gaining experience of living and studying in a different culture.

Those who decide to take a placement year gain valuable workplace experience, which will impress prospective employers.

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level


Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 15 points at HL

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country. 

However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

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

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

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. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.


The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £15700
Part-time £4625 £7850

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.* 

Your fee status

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.

Fees for Year in Industry

For 2019/20 entrants, the standard year in industry fee for home, EU and international students is £1,385

Fees for Year Abroad

UK, EU and international students on an approved year abroad for the full 2019/20 academic year pay £1,385 for that year. 

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. 

General additional costs

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


University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.


General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either mathematics or a modern foreign language. Please review the eligibility criteria.



The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact