It is not surprising that discussion of religion is often focused on its potential for social division, tension and conflict. Religious Studies involves understanding why this is so but it also asks how and why religion is the inspiration for some of the greatest and most enduring of human achievements.
None of this study is possible without the recognition that religions rest upon claims of profound consequence concerning the existence and nature of God, the significance of human life, and the origin of the material world. Theology is the discipline that reflects upon these claims, asking questions about truth and engaging with studies in other disciplines: in history, philosophy, and the social sciences, for example.
The Theology & Religious Studies Tripos offers a wide choice of courses. In the first year all students must do some biblical study and learn a scriptural language (Hebrew, Greek, Sanskrit, or Arabic), but the further three papers they must take can be chosen freely from a total of six. Thereafter it is possible to specialise in Christian theology, the study of religion, or a combination of the two.
Trinity College was itself founded for the purposes of religion, education, and learning. Trinity theologians of the past include Westcott, Hort, and Lightfoot, the great trio of New Testament scholars, and F D Maurice, the Christian Socialist. Other Trinity alumni such as Newton, Tennyson and Wittgenstein engaged profoundly with religious texts and problems. There are usually seven or eight students reading for the Tripos at Trinity and several others doing post-graduate work in the subject.
The College’s Director of Studies is Michael Banner, who is also the Dean of Chapel. His field of study is Moral Philosophy Ethics; specialist supervisors from outside Trinity are involved in the teaching of other areas of the Tripos.
Applicants for places normally have a subject-based interview with the Director of Studies. In addition, by agreement across the University, candidates for Theology & Religious Studies can expect to be interviewed by a Director of Studies from a second college.
The inter-disciplinary nature of the subject means that no particular A-level is regarded as essential. A desirable combination of A-levels would, however, include one or more from languages, literature, and history. The typical conditional offer is A*AA; comparable conditions are set for those taking the IB and other school-leaving examinations.
If you would like to have more information about the Tripos you should visit the Faculty website below:
All applicants for Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion are required to take a written assessment at interview, if interviewed.
- Brief lecture followed by written response (60 minutes).The Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion Admissions Assessment will take the form of a pre-recorded sample lecture lasting up to 20 minutes. You will then have the remaining 40 minutes to answer a set of comprehension questions. This will give you an opportunity to demonstrate how you have developed academically since you took your GCSEs. It will be skills-based, looking at your comprehension and writing skills, but will not assume any prior knowledge. It will provide valuable additional evidence of our applicants’ abilities and potential to succeed in the Cambridge course for which they have applied.
You do not need to register or be registered in advance for the assessments at interview – the College will provide details of arrangements in the emails inviting applicants to interview.
Further details about the format of the assessment and preparatory materials can be found on the written assessments page.
Please note that your performance in the admissions assessment will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.
- Dr Michael Banner