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Masters by Research and PhD in Theology and Religious Studies


3 years full-time or 5 years part-time. Examined by a 100,000 word thesis max and a viva.

As part of the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, Theology and Religious Studies (TRS) at Leeds provides a world-leading and internationally excellent research environment for postgraduate research training.

In 2014 the government's most recent measure of research quality in the UK, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), placed TRS at Leeds 'first' in the country for publications and 'joint third' overall.

PhD students are trained under the guidance of two expert supervisors. A thriving scholarly research culture is also maintained by the Centre for Religion and Public Life and the Centre for Philosophy of Religion.

Regular seminars and research days provide students with opportunities to present work in progress in a community full of willing mentors and like-minded peers.


Our areas of expertise include a very wide range of intersecting issues:

  • Sociological and anthropological approaches to religion; theology, sociology and anthropology
  • Christian theology, especially modern Christian thought, theological anthropology and public life, theological ethics
  • Philosophy, spirituality and ethics (including medieval and modern Christian as well as Hindu and Buddhist traditions)
  • Emotions; psychiatry; mental health
  • The Hebrew Bible
  • Contemporary Islam and Muslim societies; sociology and anthropology of Islam; Muslim diasporas and multicultural politics in Europe
  • Biblical exegesis and interpretation
  • Indian/South Asian traditions and their diasporas: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Sikhism
  • African religious studies
  • Interfaith dialogue and relations: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Indian traditions
  • Gender, sexuality and feminism including feminist theology
  • Global development including environment and climate change
  • Religion, place and material culture and embodiment
  • Religion and politics; political theology; religion and political activism
  • Ethnography and fieldword in the study of religions
  • Student education in Religious Studies
  • Media and religion

Staff profiles

PhD by Distance Learning

The School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science now also offers PhD by Distance Learning, for further information please contact Dr Mic Spencer, Head of the Graduate School:

Current research projects

These are examples of just some of our current and recently completed TRS research projects, all of which were externally supported by research councils and other prestigious funding bodies:

Teaching experience

All PhD students are offered the opportunity to gain some teaching experience in years two and three of their studies (or part-time equivalent). Learning how to lead seminars and give the occasional lecture is crucial for those wishing to embark on an academic career.

Training in all aspects of being a research professional is also provided by the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures and the University Staff and Departmental Development Unit.

Entry requirements

An MA (taught or research) in a relevant area of study with demonstrable evidence of capacity for doctoral level research. N.B. a writing sample (e.g. MA essay or dissertation) is requested on application.

How to apply

The easiest way is to apply online.

Most students commence their studies in September; however, it is possible to start a research degree at any point in the year.

Contact details

For enquiries, please contact Postgraduate Administrator

Telephone: +44 (0) 113 343 3644


Associated links

Theology and Religious Studies

Staff profiles

Centre for Religion and Public Life

Centre for Philosophy of Religion

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Order a prospectus online or telephone +44 (0)113 343 2336