Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion at Cambridge
The newly named syllabus at Cambridge in Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion (TRPR), offers an unrivalled grounding in a broad and diverse subject area which is crucial for understanding the world both past and present and working towards a better future. The course is very flexible and thoroughly interdisciplinary, incorporating many different approaches and skills which prepare our students for many different successful professional careers.
Our course offers the chance to study faith traditions from many different perspectives, built on the idea that religion is a multifarious phenomenon which should be studied as comprehensively as possible. Students may follow many different paths through the Tripos. Thus it is possible to study almost any combination of different religious traditions with world-leading experts, from many perspectives: systematic, historical, textual, philosophical, ethical, gendered, linguistic, anthropological, social-scientific amongst others. The student body studying this degree is very varied, containing adherents of many faith traditions and none, believers, sceptics, and atheists sharing a common critical interest in the religious phenomena of our world.
Find out more about the course and how to apply from the Departmental webpages.
Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion at Murray Edwards College
At Murray Edwards we usually welcome around 2 new undergraduate students each year. They thus join an overall undergraduate cohort of about 6, as well as several graduate students, a professorial fellow (Profesor Sarah Coakley), as well as the external Director of Studies, Dr Philip McCosker.
The subject group is social and supportive: we have twice termly social events as a college group as well as an annual subject dinner, and joint events with TRPR students at other colleges. The student body in TRPR at Murray Edwards is diverse and has been particularly strong in recent years in religious and biblical studies, as well as contemporary and philosophical theologies.
Our students achieve consistently good results, including, in recent years, the top starred First in the subject in 2014. They also enjoy their time at in College studying TRPR:
‘With TRPR being a relatively small subject, I’ve been able to get to know the other Murray Edwards TRPR students from all years easily. To be able to discuss your course and college and keep in contact with other years is a unique aspect that other colleges and courses don’t have. It helped me feel settled in quickly and I’ve learnt some interesting things about my course and college I otherwise wouldn’t have known. I like that there are so many different disciplines involved: I’ve been able to study philosophy, anthropology, scriptural texts and even Greek!’ Danielle
‘I love studying Theology & Religious Studies at Medwards. The college and faculty are both hugely supportive and we are given plenty of freedom to explore what really interests us. There is so much great stuff to learn: some days I am examining Old Testament poetry, while other days I am telling all my friends about the rituals of the Azande tribe or trying to get my head around the Christian doctrine of the incarnation (I am still working on that last one)!’ Lizzy
Professor Sarah Coakley is the Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity in the Faculty and was until recently Deputy Head of the School of Arts and Humanities across the university. She specialises in philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, systematic theology, science and religion, and gender and sexuality. She is an alumna of MEC where she studied theology as both an undergraduate and a graduate student. She has previously held positions at Harvard, Oxford, and Lancaster Universities.
Dr Philip McCosker is the external Director of Studies in TRPR at MEC, Director of the Von Hügel Institute at St Edmund’s College and also Departmental Lecturer in Modern Theology in Oxford, spending half of every week in Cambridge. He specialises in historical and systematic theology, with an increasing focus on the practical and social applications of theologies.
Dr Natalja Deng, an alumna of MEC where she originally studied Physics, is a Bye-Fellow in Philosophy. She is a postdoctoral researcher on the TWCF research project on ‘Theology, Philosophy of Religion, and the Natural Sciences’ directed by Professor Coakley. She is particularly interested in the nature of time and our experience of its passing, in connection with issues of philosophy of religion.
Applying to study here
We look for students who are passionate and inquisitive about some of the areas covered by this broad degree, as well as being academic high-achievers. Engagement and interest are paramount. There is no standard academic path to TRPR, nor a standard career afterwards. At interview we will be looking for evidence of textual and analytic abilities, as well as curiosity about and engagement with arguments. In preparing to apply or for your interview it is a good to think clearly about your interests in this degree and work out what you have done, and could do more, to explore and develop that interest (by reading carefully chosen books or internet articles).
We usually set conditional offers based on the typical/standard offers for the University of Cambridge ie usually A*AA at A level (or equivalent). Full details of the entry requirements and selection processes in TRPR across all colleges can be found on the central University webpages.
Moving into your career
TRPR does not lead to a standard career path: this is one of its attractions to many students. Such a broad and textured degree gives its students many transferrable skills which are attractive to many employers. Former undergraduates are now working in many different fields including: arts and drama, academia, school teaching, law, accounting, civil service, charity work, journalism and much more.
We support all women students in developing their skills and confidence in exploring varied career options through our unique Murray Edwards Gateway Programme.