Top login menu

Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge
  • Home
  • Main page content

    Professor Sarah Coakley

    Photo of Professor Sarah Coakley
    01223 763002
    Faculty of Divinity
    University of Cambridge
    West Road
    CB3 9BS

    Professorial Fellow in Divinity

    Theology (Philosophy of Religion)


    As an alumna of Murray Edwards (New Hall, as it then was), I was struck from the moment I entered the College for my admissions interview (long ago in December 1969) by the distinctive atmosphere created by the bold architectural lines of the buildings and the equally liberative intellectual liveliness of fellows and students.

    Degrees and honours

    • MA,(Cantab),
    • PhD (Cantab),
    • ThM (Harvard),
    • Honorary doctoral degrees in theology from the universities of Lund, St. Andrew's and from the General Theological Seminary, New York,
    • Gifford Lecturer 2012 (Aberdeen),
    • Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (from 2013),
    • and President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion (2013-15).

    Research interests

    • Analytic and continental philosophy of religion, from Kant to the contemporary period.
    • Religious epistemology (especially in the so-called 'spiritual senses' tradition).
    • Systematic theology.
    • Evolutionary theory, the phenomenon of evolutionary 'cooperation', and the metaphysics of biology.
    • Feminism and gender in relation to philosophy of religion and theology.


    Professor Sarah Coakley read Theology at Cambridge as an undergraduate and then went to Harvard as a Harkness Fellow, where she took a ThM degree.

    Returning to Cambridge to start her doctorate on Ernst Troeltsch's christology, she was appointed almost immediately to a junior lectureship at Lancaster University, where she was successively lecturer and senior lecturer. In 1991 she moved to Oriel College, Oxford, where she became that college's first woman fellow. In 1993 she was invited to join the faculty of Harvard Divinity School as a full professor, and became Mallinckrodt Professor of Divinity in 1995.  In 2007 she was appointed to the Norris-Hulse Professorship at Cambridge, and returned to Cambridge in 2008.  From January 2011 to September 2014 Professor Coakley served as deputy chair of the School of Arts and Humanities.

    Professor Coakley has worked widely on interdisciplinary projects, most especially with the Harvard evolutionary biologist and mathematician, Martin A. Nowak, with whom she co-edited Evolution, Games and God:  The Principle of Cooperation (Harvard UP, 2013). Out of that collaboration also sprang the materials for her 2012 Gifford Lectures, Sacrifice Regained:  Evolution, Cooperation and GOd (forthcoming with Oxford UP).

    Currently Professor Coakley is on a three-year major research fellowship funded by the Leverhulme Foundation. She is continuing to write her own systematic theology, the first volume of which appeared as God, Sexuality and the Self:  An Essay 'On the Trinity' (Cambridge UP, 2013).


    A complete list of Professor Coakley's publications can be found on the Faculty of Divinity website.