Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion


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 annual undergraduate intake is normally two or three but students also switch to Theology after studying another subject for one or two years.

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 standard conditional offer is normally 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:

Teaching Staff

  • Dr Michael Banner

Admissions Assessment

All applicants are required to take the pre-interview written assessment for Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion at an authorised centre local to them (for a lot of applicants, this will be their school/college).

Assessment format

  • Comprehension (60 minutes)
  • Essay/text response element (60 minutes)

Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion Admissions Assessment Specification

You must be registered in advance (separately to your UCAS application) to take the assessment – the registration deadline is 15 October 2016. Your assessment centre must register you for the pre-interview assessment; you’re not able to register yourself. See the written assessments page for information about assessment centres and registration.

The pre-interview written assessment for Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion will be taken on 2 November 2016.

Please note that your performance in the pre-interview assessment will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.


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