Theology and Religious Studies

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1 Undergraduate Theology and Religious Studies Religion is a major factor, perhaps the determining factor, behind much of world history and culture. It is also an area where there is a great deal of ignorance, prejudice and confusion. An informed appreciation of the world in which we live requires taking religion seriously and understanding it properly. Why study Theology and Religious Studies at Bristol? Taking a Single Honours degree in Theology and Religious Studies (V600) involves the academic study of some of the world s major religions, from Judaism and Christianity to Chinese Religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, including the foundational texts of these traditions. The department also has connections with other departments in the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, offering Joint Honours programmes with Sociology (VL63), and Philosophy (VV56). The courses offered in the department are all modular, lasting three years (full-time) and allowing flexibility to either concentrate on a select number of areas or choose units from many areas of study. Whichever course you follow, you will find that the department has a tradition of intellectual innovation, using a range of archaeological, historical, linguistic, philosophical, and theological approaches. The only commitment asked of you is an academic one: belief in the importance of the subject and a willingness to pursue it seriously and critically. We are a friendly department with seven permanent staff and several part-time lecturers; some of our postgraduates also participate in undergraduate teaching. As well as teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students, all full-time staff pursue research in their area of expertise and publish the results in books and learned journals. The department s interests relate in particular to the study of the Bible, Judaism and Christianity, but also Indian and Chinese religions, especially Buddhist Studies. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, 85% of the department s research was rated internationally significant, excellent or world-leading, with the other 15% of national significance.

2 What will I study? Normally in the first-year you select units from a range of areas (such as Biblical Studies, Judaism, Christianity, Chinese Religions, Hinduism and Buddhism) and participate in small seminars investigating a selection of subjects or issues in more detail. Upon successful completion of the first year, you enter your second year with a free choice from a range of units in various religious traditions including (currently): the Dead Sea Scrolls, Christian Theology and Non-Christian Religions, The Religious World of Dante, The Bible and Literature, and The Religious and Cultural Traditions of Ancient India to cite just a few examples. As an example of the content of these classes, the unit The Beginnings of Modern Theology is a study of four seminal German theologians whose work has shaped the agenda for much contemporary thought. The tour starts with the father of modern theology, Schleiermacher, who tries to marry theology and culture. Barth tries to wreck this marriage, and then gets entangled with Brunner who tries to mediate. Enter the fray: Bultmann, with his famous call to demythologise the New Testament. In the debates between these thinkers, you can see major questions regarding Christ, God, the church and human society tackled. In the third year you also have a wide choice of units, but if you are taking the Single Honours degree then you must also complete a substantial dissertation supervised by a permanent member of staff. Current units available to study during your third year include: The Theology of John Calvin, Hebrew Texts, Theravada Buddhist Practice in Asia, Zen Buddhism and Medieval Religion in Europe, In this last unit, for example, you can examine the role of religion as a major force in shaping the cultural identity of people in the Middle Ages from 500 to 1500 in Western Europe. Lectures look at key themes which include: the cult of saints; the papacy; religious magic; monastic and scholastic education; lay devotion; the role of the clergy in worship; concepts of war and peace; and the treatment of Jews. In each session, you are introduced to these themes via a one-hour lecture given by the unit tutor. In the second hour of the unit you are then expected to discuss in smaller seminar groups key primary sources relevant to the lecture. Each student is assigned an individual seminar presentation and is responsible for expounding on specific key themes. Overall, a variety of teaching methods are employed in the department, including traditional lectures, interactive seminars and one-to-one tutorials. Extensive use is also made of audiovisual equipment and the internet. Assessment is through a mixture of examinations and coursework (including essays and dissertation).

3 What support is available? As the Department of Theology and Religious Studies is a fairly small department, you will enjoy a close working relationship with other students and with members of the teaching staff. You are allocated a personal tutor, who schedules regular meetings to discuss academic or other issues that may concern you. In addition, permanent staff have regular consultation hours when they are available for discussion. What s life like as a student? Being a student at Bristol not only gives you the opportunity to study at a world-renowned university but also to enjoy interests outside of your studies. The student community is diverse, enabling you to make new friends and get involved in a variety of clubs and societies. The Students Union provides a supportive and stimulating environment in which you can thrive and offers more than 180 societies and 56 sports clubs. So, whether you enjoy performing, making music, volunteering, campaigning or playing sport, there is bound to be something that appeals to you. What are my career prospects? Most Arts degrees are non-vocational. However long experience has shown that employers value the transferable skills that Theology and Religious Studies graduates can offer, including the ability to think critically, to write fluently and to appreciate the value of ideas differing from one s own. Among Arts graduates, employment rates for graduates in Theology and Religious Studies are consistently high. If you are keen and good at your degree subject then the department also encourages you to consider the possibility of postgraduate work, and offers full-time (one year) and part-time (two years) MA and MPhil programmes. Research work at MLitt/ PhD level can be undertaken full-time (three years) or part-time (six years). In that regard, the department has a flourishing Centre for Buddhist Studies and an active Centre for Christianity and Culture. The city of Bristol is also student-friendly and offers fantastic shopping malls and independent stores as well as museums, theatres, cinemas, restaurants and bars all on your doorstep. There is a lively festival and event scene and the beautiful countryside of the West Country, Cotswolds and Wales are within easy reach.

4 Is there any advice you can give me on making my application? Taking a degree in Theology and Religious Studies at Bristol does not require that you are yourself religious. The personal religious beliefs of students, or indeed staff, are not in themselves directly relevant to the academic study of religion. Staff and students in the department are diverse when it comes to personal religious commitment or the lack of it. Indeed, whether you are of any religious persuasion or of none you are very welcome, and it is hoped that all in our department benefit from meeting and talking with a range of people with widely different backgrounds and personal commitments. What is needed, in order to enjoy the subject and hence to do well at it, is an endless fascination with the religious interests and ideas of humanity, and their role in framing people s lives and cultural responses in various media, from literature, art and music to philosophy and politics. On the other hand if you are considering applying for a place you should certainly familiarise yourself with the sort of issues studied at university level in Theology and Religious Studies and the critical intellectual approaches adopted to them. If you would like to talk to someone in the department about whether this degree would suit you, please contact the School of Humanities and ask to speak to the Admissions Tutor for Theology and Religious Studies.

5 Entry data Typical offer for BA Theology and Religious Studies Please visit bristol.ac.uk/ug13-theology for Joint Honours and other qualifications A-levels Typical offer AAB (contextual offer ABB ) AS-levels No specific subjects required IB Diploma 35 points overall (contextual offer 33 ) including 6, 6, 6 at Higher level Access Pass Access to HE Diploma with at least 39 credits at Merit and/or Distinction IELTS 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in each part GCSE No specific subjects required Selection UCAS form; some mature students may be interviewed Part-time study No Deferred applications Welcomed The University assesses applications on their individual merit and in accordance with a set of clearly defined principles as described at bristol.ac.uk/ug-admissions-principles. Admissions statements for all courses are available from bristol.ac.uk/ug-admissions-statements. A contextual offer (UK only) might be given when the educational context of the applicant is taken into account. The University is committed to ensuring that it attracts highly motivated students from a wide range of backgrounds. Our definition of educational disadvantage is reviewed annually and each case is considered on an individual basis. Top: Stained-glass window Middle and bottom: Students studying

6 Contacts School information For more information on the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, please visit: bristol.ac.uk/thrs Useful contact information Admissions Undergraduate Admissions Office Tel: +44 (0) Fax: +44 (0) Accommodation Accommodation Office Tel: +44 (0) bristol.ac.uk/accommodation Disability Services Tel: +44 (0) Fax: +44 (0) bristol.ac.uk/disability-services University guide to the city of Bristol bristol.ac.uk/citybristol International Advice and Support Advice and Support for International Students Tel: +44 (0) bristol.ac.uk/international/studentsupport If you need all or part of this publication in an accessible format (eg in Braille, in larger print or on CD), please contact Widening Participation and Undergraduate Recruitment Tel: +44 (0) Student Funding Office Tel: +44 (0) bristol.ac.uk/studentfunding Photographic credit: Nick Smith, William King, Destination Bristol; other photographs University of Bristol. The information contained in this leaflet is correct at the time of printing (June 2012). Courses and facilities are liable to alter or be withdrawn at the University s discretion.

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