- Study a course designed to explore religion through the lens of different disciplines
- Learn from experts who specialise in research areas such as the roles of women in Islam and global Christianity
- Our team are at the cutting edge of the discipline and you’ll benefit from their insights into new religious movements
- Build your professional experience by presenting your ideas and getting feedback at the department’s postgraduate conference
- Use the advanced research skills you’ll develop to enhance your career or pursue a future in academia
Religion plays a role in many aspects of today’s world – from popular culture to conflict, gender equality to our understanding of the past. We’ve designed this course to help you unravel those relationships using research methods from different disciplines such as sociology and anthropology.
Hone your research skills
We kickstart this course with our Studying Religion module. It covers a lot of ground – you’ll study areas like social and cultural transformations of religion and spirituality, as well as sharpening your skills in making sense of conflicting data from different sources and forming an evidence-based argument.
You’ll also dig deeper into an area that interests you with our dissertation module. Past students have looked at a very wide range of topics, depending on their own interests. For example, they’ve written about religion and spirituality during lockdown, and charismatic leadership in new religious movements.
A range of areas to explore
Alongside core modules, you might analyse Indian source texts on politics and ethics or perhaps discuss major debates in religious and atheistic thought. With our Independent Study module, you can pick any area within the subject to explore.
Religious Studies is a rich and fascinating area of study, constantly evolving as our understanding expands and matures. Your MA Religious Studies degree will show potential employers that you understand cultural differences and appreciate diversity. This is something that’s valued across a range of sectors.
By the time you finish the course, you’ll have a set of transferrable skills on your CV. Your ability to evaluate arguments, assess evidence and think critically will be invaluable to employers, as will your understanding of religious and cultural diversity.
Our graduates go on to secure a range of public service roles within:
- Organisations in the voluntary sector
- The Civil Service
- The police
Alternatively, you might decide to carry on studying with a PhD – an excellent opportunity to specialize further and make your mark in this field of research.
2:1 Hons degree (UK or equivalent) in a relevant background.
We may also consider non-standard applicants, please contact us for information.
If you have studied outside of the UK, we would advise you to check our list of international qualifications before submitting your application.
English Language Requirements
We may ask you to provide a recognised English language qualification, dependent upon your nationality and where you have studied previously.
We normally require an IELTS (Academic) Test with an overall score of at least 6.5, and a minimum of 5.5 in each element of the test. We also consider other English language qualifications.
If your score is below our requirements, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language programmes.
Contact: Admissions Team +44 (0) 1524 592032 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You will study a range of modules as part of your course, some examples of which are listed below.
The module involves the negotiation, design and delivery of a research project whose precise topic will be determined by the student and the project supervisor.
The dissertation will be up to 20,000 words in length. The process of producing it is designed to provide students with the opportunity to consolidate their existing knowledge and skills base while developing new knowledge and skills made possible by its project-orientated nature.
This module aims to support existing taught modules in religious studies by introducing research methods and approaches from various disciplines and working to understand theoretical and practical issues in the study of religions. It introduces cross-cultural and cross- religious examination of research topics in religious studies. The module will also give students the opportunity for developing generic skills in library research, essay writing, ethics in research, dissertation planning, and presentations.
Aims and Objectives
- Induction into the study of religions Research methodologies: case studies and examples selected from anthropological, sociological, philosophical approaches as well as from the study of texts
- Theoretical approaches to the study of religion: examples selected from the disciplines of the humanities and social sciences
- Dissertation workshop: finding a topic and supervisor, completion plan, case studies
Assessment is by 5,000 word essay.
Theory and Methods in Postgraduate Studies
This module serves to consolidate postgraduate research and learning support by enabling students to engage with theories, methods, and skills relevant to your studies. The module is core for all PPR PGT politics students and complements core subject and discipline-specific provision in religious studies and philosophy. Through this module we aim to equip you with the ability to reflect upon the processes and implications of research project planning, design and execution in Politics, Philosophy and/or Religion.
The first part of the module examines the principles of research, including different disciplinary traditions of knowledge production. It goes on to set out the process of structuring a research project and explores how to develop and apply theory. The second part of the module examines a range of methods for conducting research, including interviews, surveys, and case studies. The final section covers questions of ethics and goes through how to write up and present research. Through the module, students will design research projects, develop writing and critical evaluation skills, and have the opportunity to present their research ideas as part of the annual MA conference. The module involves a combination of lectures, small group discussion, and presentations covering the following areas:
- The academic research process.
- Project planning, design and process management.
- Ethics in postgraduate research.
- Resource identification and review processes.
- Data acquisition techniques and issues.
- Analytical and interpretative approaches.
- Academic conventions (e.g. making an argument, writing, referencing).
Assessment is by 5,000 word research proposal.
Body in Text: Politics of Gender in Islam
Week 1 Introduction to the study of Gender, Religion and Islam: This session is devoted to getting to know each other and discussing key issues in the study of gender and religion in light of feminist and post-colonial approaches.
Gender in the Tradition: Weeks 2-5
Week 2 Women in Qur'anic Narratives: This session introduces students to the study of the Qur’an with a focus on the representation of gender in Qur’anic narratives.
Week 3 The Construction of Gender Norms: This session investigates the moral boundaries of gender relations in the Qur’an, Hadith and early Muslim interpretation with a focus on the model of the Prophets’ wives and its extension to Muslim women in general.
Week 4 Sexuality and Modesty: This session continues to investigate the moral boundaries of gender relations in the Qur’an and Hadith with a focus on the question of sexuality and the dress code.
Week 5 Authority and power: This session will explore premodern Muslim views about the status of women and male authority, particularly in light of the central text Q. 3:34 (Male guardianship and the so-called beating verse)
Week 6 Individual Tutorials
Feminist Approaches and Contemporary Movements: Weeks 7-10
Week 7 Feminist Approaches to the Islamic tradition: Deconstructing Patriarchy: This session will look at the reform discourses which led to new approaches to the Qur’an with a focus on feminist interpretations that aim to deconstruct ‘patriarchal’ readings of the Qur’an.
Week 8 Feminist Approaches to the Islamic tradition: Reconstructing Islamic law: In this session, we take a closer look at the transnational Muslim Musawah (Equality) movement associated with Sisters in Islam and its effort to reconstruct Gender norms and laws in Islam.
Week 9 Politics and Piety: Reconstructing Islamic Practice: In the final two sessions we move to look at women’s involvement in changing religious practices through political action. This session looks at the British and US contexts and the emergence of the women-led mosques.
Week 10: Politics and Piety: The Revival of the Tradition and Critiques of Feminist Approaches: This session focuses on the revivalist, more traditionally-oriented mosque movement in the Middle East with reference to Egypt. The primary aim, however, will be to critically reflect upon and assess feminist approaches to Gender in Islam.
Independent Study Module
An Independent Study module allows you to undertake a focussed and self-directed study of your own choice of topic in philosophy, guided by a tutor with relevant expertise and research interests. Teaching consists of one-on-one tutorials, and contact hours are five hours of meetings, to be arranged between you and your supervisor over the term. You can take an independent study module in philosophy in Michaelmas and/or Lent, up to a maximum of two.
The subject-specialist tutor who supervises the student will:
- help to shape and focus the research project
- give guidance on the professional literature, and on the nature, format, and planning of the essay
- discuss the developing content of the essay
- give feedback on at least one draft
- if possible, suggest appropriate undergraduate modules which the student could audit in support of their research
Independent study requires intellectual maturity and self-direction from the student. The student will:
- work with the supervisor to shape and focus the research project
- seek out, read, and engage argumentatively with relevant disciplinary literature
- write, share, and discuss draft work towards the assessment
- engage with the supervision process
Assessment is by 5,000 word essay.
Religion and Conflict (distance learning)
Whether global, national, ethnic or ethical, conflicts frequently involve religion. Between themselves, in their relations with secular states and ideologies, and even at the level of sects or denominations, religions engage in conflict arising from deeply held beliefs and values, as well as in struggles for power, status and legitimacy. Understanding how and why religious groups contribute to global and regional conflicts and civil wars – from terrorist attacks, through historically embedded disputes in Israel/Gaza and Northern Ireland, to Christian/Muslim violence in Nigeria, Uganda and India – is vital for development, humanitarian intervention, international relations, diplomacy and conflict resolution.
This module provides the knowledge and skills to help students understand and analyse why conflict happens within and between religious groups, and to assess the positive and negative contributions that religions make to wider struggles – from local disputes through to global terrorism.
Week 1: An Historical Introduction to 'Religion and Conflict' Week 2: Religion and Secularism in the West
Week 3: Religion and Secularism in India Week 4: Religion and Ethnic Conflict
Week 5: Conflict, Religion, and International Relations Week 6: Religion and Violence
Week 7: Religion and Protest: Mohandas Gandhi Week 8: Religion and Protest: Martin Luther King Week 9: Religion and Society: Islam in Britain Week 10: Consolidation Lecture
The module is designed to introduce students to key concepts and issues in scholarship on religion and conflict: e.g. on the relationship between conflict and violence, religion and ethnicity, the ‘clash of civilizations’, intra-religious as well as inter-religious conflict, jihad and martyrdom. Equal attention will be given to the importance of context – historical, social, geographical and political. Analysis and debate about religion and conflict will be situated in particular cases, from the UK and Europe, the US, the Indian sub-continent and sub-Saharan Africa. Lecture podcasts and online discussion activities will be complemented by online talks by experts and short films. There will be plenty of opportunities for online interaction with peers and tutors.
Assessment is by 5,000 word essay.
Sources of Indian Religion and Philosophy
In this module we will encounter some of the most foundational religious and philosophical texts of the Hindu and Buddhists traditions. Texts will vary from year to year, but may include: the ?g Veda, Upani?ads, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, or the Yoga Sutra from the Brahmanical/Hindu tradition, and the Nikayas, Vinaya, Jatakas, Lotus Sutra, and The Bodhicaryavatara from the Buddhist tradition. Through close readings, we will examine some of the core religio-philosophical ideas of early Indian thought as well as pay close attention to the composition, style, and structure of the texts themselves. We will also attempt to situate Hindu and Buddhist textual material within a social and historical context, paying close attention to who participates in the religio-philosophical world of ancient India and in what types of social circumstances religio-philosophical ideas are discussed. Alongside reading the primary sources, we will also situate our engagements within scholarly debates about methods of interpretation such as text-historical criticism, hermeneutics, phenomenology, orientalism, and post-colonial theory.
Assessment is by 5,000 word essay.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research. Not all optional modules are available every year.
Fees and Funding
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2024/25 entry fees have not yet been set.
There may be extra costs related to your course for items such as books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation, you may need to pay a subscription to a professional body for some chosen careers.
Specific additional costs for studying at Lancaster are listed below.
Lancaster is proud to be one of only a handful of UK universities to have a collegiate system. Every student belongs to a college, and all students pay a small College Membership Fee which supports the running of college events and activities.
For students starting in 2023, the fee is £40 for undergraduates and research students and £15 for students on one-year courses. Fees for students starting in 2024 have not yet been set.
Computer equipment and internet access
To support your studies, you will also require access to a computer, along with reliable internet access. You will be able to access a range of software and services from a Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Linux device. For certain degree programmes, you may need a specific device, or we may provide you with a laptop and appropriate software - details of which will be available on relevant programme pages. A dedicated IT support helpdesk is available in the event of any problems.
The University provides limited financial support to assist students who do not have the required IT equipment or broadband support in place.
Application fees and tuition fee deposits
For most taught postgraduate applications there is a non-refundable application fee of £40. We cannot consider applications until this fee has been paid, as advised on our online secure payment system. There is no application fee for postgraduate research applications.
For some of our courses you will need to pay a deposit to accept your offer and secure your place. We will let you know in your offer letter if a deposit is required and you will be given a deadline date when this is due to be paid.
Fees in subsequent years
If you are studying on a programme of more than one year’s duration, the tuition fees for subsequent years of your programme are likely to increase each year. Read more about fees in subsequent years.
Scholarships and Bursaries
Details of our scholarships and bursaries for 2024-entry study are not yet available, but you can use our opportunities for 2023-entry applicants as guidance.
Check our current list of scholarships and bursaries.
The information on this site relates primarily to 2023/2024 entry to the University and every effort has been taken to ensure the information is correct at the time of publication.
The University will use all reasonable effort to deliver the courses as described, but the University reserves the right to make changes to advertised courses. In exceptional circumstances that are beyond the University’s reasonable control (Force Majeure Events), we may need to amend the programmes and provision advertised. In this event, the University will take reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to your studies. If a course is withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to request that you are considered for an alternative course or withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date course information before you submit your application.
More information on limits to the University’s liability can be found in our legal information.
Our Students’ Charter
We believe in the importance of a strong and productive partnership between our students and staff. In order to ensure your time at Lancaster is a positive experience we have worked with the Students’ Union to articulate this relationship and the standards to which the University and its students aspire. View our Charter and other policies.