Why study religion and theology at Bristol?

Hardly a day goes by when an understanding of religion wouldn’t enhance our understanding of what is happening in the world.

Rupert Gethin, Professor of Buddhist Studies, Department of Religion & Theology.

Whether you believe in it or not, religion is one of the most defining qualities of humankind. It has shaped the lives of individuals and societies through the ages and today, preoccupies an estimated 90 per cent of the world’s population. Yet it is famously one of the most divisive topics of conversation and avoided by many who shy away from the passionate arguments it inspires.

“Understanding the past and the present state of the world is not possible without some knowledge of religious traditions and their teachings,” says Professor Gethin. “Whether it’s fighting in the Middle East, the ordination of women bishops, or the many debates that surround issues of ethics and values in the institutions that govern our society, a deeper awareness of the religious beliefs and practices that have shaped societies across the world can only strengthen our sense of common humanity.”

Studying religion and theology at Bristol doesn’t require you to have a religious background. We actively encourage constructive debate and analytical critique across all denominations, including atheists and agnostics. The ability to think critically about the knowledge we acquire is essential to the process of embedding that knowledge. It is also crucial if, as individuals, we wish to play an active role in the many discussions that influence the politics and ideas that hold sway over our lives.

An education in religion and theology is also an education in history, language, literature, philosophy, ethics, archaeology, anthropology, sociology and psychology. Our approach is one that reflects upon both the challenging realities of the modern world and the complexities of the past, by exploring the rationale that underpins Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Chinese religion.

Our graduates and those who stay on to continue their studies with us are testament to the value of a Bristol education, for they leave us with an impressive skills set – the confidence to articulate their viewpoints, the ability to express themselves clearly in writing, the initiative to work independently on complex projects, and an appreciation of working collaboratively.

These are just a few of the qualities that we nurture, and they are qualities that will enrich your life long after you leave, whether that’s to continue in academia or explore unanticipated opportunities.

More reasons to choose Bristol

Students on film

Third-year students talk about their experiences of studying Religion and Theology.

Watch more videos »

Edit this page