Master of Studies in Study of Religions
Differences from 2014/15 to 2022/23
1. Each candidate will be required to follow a course of instruction for three terms and present himself or herself for examination in three subjects as set out in the syllabus.
2. A 10,000-15,000 word dissertation must be offered.
All candidates must normally make a written application for approval of the topic no later than Monday of noughth week of Hilary Term.The application should be submitted to the Faculty of Theology and Religion for consideration by the Theology and Religion Graduate Studies Committee. In cases where there is some uncertainty about the acceptability of the proposal, candidates are asked to submit their applications earlier if possible. All applications should be accompanied by a recommendation from the candidate’s supervisor. Two copies of thedissertation must be sentto the Chairof Examiners for the Degree of M.St in the Study of Religion, c/o the Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford before the end of eighthweek ofTrinity Term in the year of examination. Titles for the two shorter essaysmust normallybe submittedto the Faculty of Theology and Religion no later than Monday of noughth week of Hilary Term for consideration by the Graduate Studies Committee. Two copies of the essays must be submitted to the Examination Schoolsby the Friday before the beginningof Trinity Term in the year in which the examination is taken. Decisions on the suitability of titles for both dissertation and essays will be taken in consultation with the Chair of Examinersfor that year. The three-hour examinationwill be held in tenth or eleventh week of Trinity Term.
3. Each candidate will be required to present himself or herself for an oral (viva voce) examination unless individually dispensed by the examiners. This
will take place within a few days of the written examination, andmay include discussion of both the examination paper and any pre-submitted work.
. The examiners may award a distinction to candidates who have performed with special merit in the whole examination. 5. A candidate who fails the examination will be permitted to retake it on one further occasion only, not later than one year after the initial attempt. Such a candidate whose 10,000-15,000 word essay has been of satisfactory standard may resubmit the same piece of work, while a candidate who had reached a satisfactory standard on the written papers will not be required to retake that part of the examination.
Candidates must offer the paper on the Nature of Religion and two papers selected from papers on the major texts and doctrines of (a) Buddhism, (b) Christianity, (c) Islam, (d) Judaism, or (e) Hinduism, or (f) any other paper that may from time to time be approved by the Board of the Faculty of Theology and Religion.
paper on one of the candidate ’s two chosen religions will consist of a dissertation of 10,000 –15,000 words. Essays and dissertations on the relations or comparisons between two religions, or approaches taken from one view towards others, are also welcomed, so long as they do not overlap with work done for any other elements of this degree. Decisions on the suitability of titles for both dissertation and essays will be taken in consultation with the Chair of Examiners for that year . The paper on the other religion will consist of two essays of up to 5,000 words.
Candidates will not normally be allowed to substitute a long essay or two short essays for the paper on The Nature of Religion. Any candidate who believes that he or she has special grounds for seeking a dispensation must present a case to the Graduate Studies Committee, with the supervisor's approval, before the fifth week of Hilary Term.
The Nature of Religion
This paper will require that students demonstrate an advanced understanding of the main classical and contemporary approaches to the study of religions. It will cover the work of some of the most important scholars in the field, and consider the history of the field of the study of religion, through its methods and theories, over the 20th century up to the present.
The paper will require that students investigate the fundamental aspects of Buddhist thought, mainly as reflected by early Buddhist teaching.
For this paper, students may study any aspect of Christian life or thought at any period of the Common Era and in any part of the world. Christianity is here understood to encompass groups and systems that are commonly deemed heterodox or heretical, together with those that are commonly regarded as offshoots of Christianity (e.g. Manichees, Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses). Topics may be historical, sociological or theological, but students taking theological texts as their principal subject are strongly encouraged to take account of the historical and social background.
Thepaper isa broad investigation ofthe historical origins and development of the theology, lawand mysticism of Islam, fromthe classical to the modernperiod . Specifictopics will be established in consultation with students; possible subjectsinclude: Prophethood of Muhammad; the Qur'an; the Hadith; Shi'ism; the theologies of the Mu'tazilis, Ash'aris, and Hanbalis; Islamic law () and the Sunni schools of the Hanafis, Malikis, Shafi'is, and Hanbalis; Sufism ) and the major Sufi orders; Islam and other religions.
Jewish religion and thought since 70 ce with reference both to its historical development and toJudaism in the modern world. Selections fromthe texts listed inthe student handbook will be assigned by the course tutor by the beginning of Michaelmas Term.
, for which the source material lies in Sanskrit texts read in English translationand in the context of reliable secondarysources, will be concerned with the main components of the brahminical tradition which, though of ancient origin, are still relevant today. Key areas include Vedic religion, nondualism, and traditional (smarta)ritual practice. Particular attentionwill be paid to leading ideas developed inthe listed primary texts read in translation, though the secondary sources provide necessary context. No attempt will be made to cover later theism or Hindu sects.