Philosophy and Theology (MA)

Explore the intersections between Philosophy and Theology and study how these traditions have shaped contemporary thinking.

Programme Director Dr Suzanna Millar discusses the undergraduate Philosophy and Theology (MA) programme here at the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh.

Philosophy and theology frequently overlap. Philosophers have long questioned the nature of existence and agency. Theologians have engaged with philosophical traditions in developing their understanding of individual and collective beliefs. This programme offers you an opportunity to explore these intersections. You will study the metaphysical, ethical and theological traditions that have shaped contemporary thinking. You can also choose to focus on philosophy and theology as separate subjects, adjusting the balance between them according to your interests.

This programme is delivered together with the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences.

Why study this programme

  • Theology includes the study of Christian theology, the history of Christianity, Biblical Studies, Islamic Studies and Religious Studies.
  • Philosophy covers the study of ancient and modern intellectual history, logic, metaphysics, ethics and aesthetics.
  • Edinburgh has a distinguished place in the history of Philosophy and Theology, having been home to David Hume and Adam Smith. Philosophy and Theology have been taught at the University since its foundation in 1583.
  • This wide-ranging programme will allow you to address questions about such diverse areas as morality, rationality, language, ethics, doctrine, time, self, agency, and will. You will develop the ability to engage with the views of others, formulate research questions, and articulate arguments which represent different positions and attitudes fairly.
  • This programme will allow you to acquire advanced knowledge and understanding in chosen areas of philosophical and theological traditions. It offers a range of approaches to these study areas, critical engagement with, and evaluation of, texts, issues, and arguments.
  • Students work with international scholars to acquire knowledge of chosen areas of interest and develop research-associated methods and soft skills, including communication, interpersonal, organisational and critical thinking.

Degree programme information and specifications

Degree structure and courses

  • Students take 480 credits over four years (120 each year).
  • In years one and two, students take 240 credits from pre-honours courses.
  • In years three and four, students take 240 credits from honours courses, including a 40-credit dissertation in the fourth year.

Throughout your time on this programme, half of your time will be dedicated to the study of Theology and the other half to Philosophy.

During your first year, you will take three core Philosophy courses - Introduction to the History of Philosophy, Logic, and Morality and Value - and two courses in Theology. You may also take an outside course in another subject that complements your two-degree subjects, choose to study a language, or simply pick something that interests you.

During your second year, you take two further core Philosophy courses - Mind Matter and Language and Knowledge and Reality - plus two second-year Theology courses and two further courses (these could be a continuation of your first year outside courses or other courses that interest you).

During your third and fourth years, you will choose courses in both subjects: five courses in Philosophy and five courses in Theology. You will write a final-year dissertation in either Philosophy or Theology.

Degree programme table

Aims and outcomes

The Philosophy and Theology MA programme has five main goals:

  • To offer study in the traditional disciplines of Philosophy and Theology, including metaphysics, ontology and ethics, from introductory through advanced levels.
  • To allow students to tackle Philosophy and Theology in an integrative manner.
  • To provide students with opportunities to reflect on the nature of thinking.
  • To develop students’ experience and abilities in research, comprehension, analysis, critical thinking, self-presentation and communication.
  • To permit students to study additional subjects outside Philosophy and Theology as a part of their degree programme.

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How to apply