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Master of Philosophy in Theology

The regulations made by the Board of the Faculty of Theology and Religion are as follows:

Candidates for the M.Phil. in Theology are required to follow a course of instruction and directed research for six terms and to present themselves for examination in one of five subjects:

  • I. Old Testament

    II. New Testament

    III. Christian Doctrine, specialising in one of seven fields:

    • History of Doctrine: Patristic Theology (c. AD 100-787)

      Issues in Theology with special reference to Theology from 1780 to the present day

  •  IV. Ecclesiastical History, specialising in one of five historical periods:

    • AD 200-600

      AD 400-1100

      AD 1000-1500

      AD 1400-1800

      AD 1800-the present

  • V. Christian Ethics

  • The examination consists of three elements:

  • A. Two written examinations (or in Old Testament, route II, one written examination) each of three hours’ duration. The specific requirements of each subject may be found below.

  • B. Three essays of not more than 5,000 words each or one long essay of not more than 15,000 words.  The specific requirements of each subject may be found below. Each submission will require the candidate to make a declaration that this is their own work.

  • C. A dissertation of not more than 30,000 words.

  • The dissertation proposal, chosen in liaison with the candidate’s supervisor, must be submitted for consideration by the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee by Monday of Week 0 of Michaelmas Term in Year 2.  The completed dissertation must be uploaded to the University approved online assessment platform by Friday of Week 8 of Trinity Term.

  • All essay and dissertation proposals should comprise a title, a short statement of how the subject will be treated, a bibliography of core texts (both primary and secondary), and the signature of the supervisor indicating his or her approval. The titles and content of the essays and dissertation should not substantially overlap with each other.

  • All submitted work should be double-spaced in font-size 12.

  • Candidates must not put their names on the written examination papers or on any submitted work. 

Each candidate is also required to present himself or herself for an oral (viva voce) examination unless individually dispensed by the examiners.  The oral examination will take place within a few days of the written examination and may include a discussion of the candidate’s work in any of the three elements listed above.

  • I. OLD TESTAMENT

    A. There will be one written examination in Prescribed Hebrew Texts. The written examination will take place at the end of Trinity Term in Year 2.

    B. Candidates will write both one long essay (up to 15,000 words) in one of the following subject areas, and three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) in another. The topic(s) will be chosen by the candidates in liaison with the supervisor. Essay proposals must be submitted for consideration by the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee not later than Monday of Week 0 of Hilary Term in Year 1. The completed essays must be uploaded to the University approved online assessment platform by Monday in Week 8 of Trinity Term of Year 1.

  • C. All candidates offer a dissertation of up to 30,000 words. The topics of the essays and the dissertation will be chosen by the candidate in liaison with the supervisor.

  • II. NEW TESTAMENT

    A. There will be two written examinations at the end of Trinity Term in Year 1:

    1. The Religion and Literature of the New Testament: the Four Gospels and Acts in Greek.

    2. The Religion and Literature of the New Testament: The Epistles and Apocalypse in Greek.

    B. Candidates will write either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics in any of the following subject areas: (1) New Testament Theology; (2) Varieties of Judaism, 200 B.C. – C.E. 200; (3) the History and Principles of Biblical Study. The topic(s) will be chosen by the candidates in liaison with the supervisor. Essay proposals must be submitted for consideration by the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee not later than Monday of Week 5 of Trinity Term in Year 1. The completed essays must be uploaded to the University approved online assessment platform by Monday in Week 8 of Trinity Term of Year 2.

  • C. All candidates offer a dissertation of up to 30,000 words.

  • III. CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE

    Candidates will be required to offer one of the following sections:

    • Section A. History of Doctrine: Patristic Theology

      Section B. Issues in Theology with special reference to Patristic Theology

      Section C. Issues in Theology with special reference to Theology from 1780 to the present day

  • Section A. History of Doctrine: Patristic Theology

    A. There will be two written examinations:

    1. The Development of Christian Doctrine to A.D. 451in Trinity Term of Year 1.

    2. Either (a) Hellenistic Philosophy and Christian Theology

      Or (b) Christology of the Patristic Era in Trinity Term of Year 2.

    Candidates may choose whether to translate and comment on Greek or on Latin texts. The prescribed texts for both examination papers will be listed in the Handbook for the M.Phil. in Theology for the year in which the candidates commenced their course.

    B. In Year 1, candidates will write either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics falling within the Patristic era, chosen by each candidates in liaison with the supervisor; if necessary a special supervisor will be appointed in addition to the overall supervisor. Essay proposals must be submitted for consideration by the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee not later than Monday of Week 0 of Hilary Term in Year 1. The completed essays must be uploaded to the University approved online assessment platform by Monday in Week 8 of Trinity Term of Year 1.

    C. All candidates offer a dissertation of up to 30,000 words.

  • Section B. Issues in Theology with special reference to Patristic Theology

    A. There will be two written examinations:

    1.Themes in Modern Theology in Trinity Term of Year 1.

    2. Either (a) The Development of Christian Doctrine to 451 A. D., as in Section A.A.1 above;

    or (b) Issues in Theology: Hellenistic Philosophy and Christian Theology (English);

    or (c) Issues in Theology: Christology of the Patristic Period (English) in Trinity Term of Year 2.

    Passages for comment in (b) and (c) will be chosen from the same texts prescribed in Section A.A.2 above, but here in English only.

    B. Candidates will write either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics falling within the Patristic era, chosen by each candidate in liaison with the supervisor; if necessary a special supervisor will be appointed in addition to the overall supervisor. Essay proposals must be submitted for consideration by the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee not later than Monday of Week 0 of Hilary Term in Year 1. The completed essays must be uploaded to the University approved online assessment platform by Monday in Week 8 of Trinity Term of Year 1.   

    C. All candidates offer a dissertation of up to 30,000 words.

    Section C. Issues in Theology with special reference to Theology from 1780 to the present day

    A. There will be two written examinations in Trinity Term of Year 1:

  • 1. Themes in Modern Theology and

  • 2. Figures in Modern Theology;

    B. Candidates will write either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics falling within Modern Theology chosen by each candidate in liaison with the supervisor. Essay proposals must be submitted for consideration by the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee not later than Monday of Week 5 of Trinity Term in Year 1. The completed essays must be uploaded to the University approved online assessment platform by Monday in Week 8 of Trinity Term of Year 2.

  • C. All candidates offer a dissertation of up to 30,000 words.

  • IV. ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

  • A. There will be two general papers, assessed in Trinity Term of Year 1

    1. A Written Examination on the Nature and Practice of Ecclesiastical History.

  • 2. A General paper on one of the following historical periods, assessed by three essays (up to 5,000 words each):

    • (a) AD 200-600

      (b) AD 400-1100

      (c) AD 1000-1500

      (d) AD 1400-1800

      (e) AD 1800 - the present

    Essay proposals must be submitted for consideration by the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee not later than Monday of Week 0 of Hilary Term in Year 1. The completed essays must be uploaded to the University approved online assessment platform by Monday in Week 8 of Trinity Term of Year 1.

  • B. In Year 2, candidates  will write either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics in ecclesiastical history, chosen by each candidate in liaison with the supervisor.  Students may choose to write their long essay or one or more of their short essays on a topic which falls outside their primary period of study, provided that they obtain the prior written permission of their supervisor and the course coordinator. Essay proposals must be submitted for consideration by the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee not later than Monday of Week 5 of Trinity Term in Year 1. The completed essays must be uploaded to the University approved online assessment platform by Monday in Week 8 of Trinity Term of Year 2.

    C. All candidates offer a dissertation of up to 30,000 words.

    V. CHRISTIAN ETHICS

    A.  There will be two written examinations in Trinity Term of Year 1:

    1. Christian Moral Concepts and Methodology.

    2. Select Texts and Practical Issues in Christian Ethics.

    B. Candidates will write either one long essay (up to 15,000 words) or three short essays (up to 5,000 words each) on a topic or topics in Christian ethics, chosen by each candidate in liaison with the supervisor. Essay proposals must be submitted for consideration by the Faculty’s Graduate Studies Committee not later than Monday of Week 5 of Trinity Term in Year 1. The completed essays must be uploaded to the University approved online assessment platform by Monday in Week 8 of Trinity Term of Year 2. 

    C. All candidates offer a dissertation of up to 30,000 words.