MA in Contemporary Faith and Belief

An Anglia Ruskin University degree created and taught by the Cambridge Theological Federation

Our MA in Contemporary Faith and Belief will enable you to join a timely debate about the role of faith and belief in the contemporary world.

Available as:

Postgraduate Certificate in Contemporary Faith and Belief (2 modules)
Postgraduate Diploma in Contemporary Faith and Belief (4 modules)
MA in Contemporary Faith and Belief (4 modules and a 15,000 word dissertation)

Options:

Available full-time or part-time
Choose from online or classroom lectures and seminars
Some modules will be available by block teaching in Cambridge over one or two weeks

Structure/Modules:

Postgraduate Certificate Postgraduate Diploma MA
Human Condition Human Condition Human Condition
Secularisation and Christianity Secularisation and Christianity Secularisation and Christianity
  Plus two optional modules:*

1)      Mystery of Love (2018-19)

2)      Ecumenism and Theory and Practice (2018-19)

3)      Christianity and Ecology (2018-19)

4)      Theology and Science (2019-20)

5)      Philosophical Theology (2019-20)

Plus two optional modules:*

1)      Mystery of Love (2018-19)

2)      Ecumenism and Theory and Practice  (2018-19)

3)      Christianity and Ecology (2018-19)

4)      Theology and Science (2019-20)

5)      Philosophical Theology (2019-20)

*IOCS and CTF reserve the right not to teach a module if enrolled numbers are insufficient. Plus a major project/dissertation (15,000 words)

Students will be supported to:

  • gain an in-depth understanding of some areas of theological and philosophical discourse in the contemporary academy, church and society;
  • develop a critical understanding of the human condition as it contributes to major questions of contemporary philosophical theology;
  • undertake a detailed exploration of some issues of theological significance in the contemporary context.

Application forms are available here.


Compulsory module (Human Condition)

This module is designed to resource students for the demands of theological and philosophical study at level 7, by focusing on the theme of the human condition as a complex topic contributive to all MA programme areas. This will give students the opportunity to develop a strong grounding in disciplinary concepts and methods particular to theology, from which and with which more specialist questions of ethics, spirituality, contemporary belief and pastoral care arise and interact.

Taking a thematic approach, this course begins by introducing some of the key theological concepts in a particular doctrinal area.  Accompanying these conceptual contributions will be reflections on connections and distinctions with non-theological understandings from philosophy.  From this doctrinal and philosophical grounding, students will be introduced to issues that arise when one addresses the human person in particular contexts or experiences.

Students should expect to receive contextualising input and to discuss these ideas and circumstances critically, developing their views of personhood as it informs their particular disciplinary commitment, and with a view to developing appropriate contextual sensitivity.

The assessment will comprise two components, one will be a critical source review of 2000 words, the other will be a 4000 word written assignment.

Compulsory module (Secularisation in the Christian World)

This module aims to introduce students to one of the most pervasive paradigms about religion in modern society: the process of secularisation. The question at the core of this module is ‘what happens to religion under conditions of modernity and/or accelerated social change?’

The module will entertain both the tenets of the secularisation paradigm (rationalisation, pluralisation, structural differentiation, the contraction in the scope and role of religion in contemporary society) and perspectives which draw attention to related but different processes (religious change, Western European exceptionalism, different models of state-church relations, alternate modernities etc.).

In mapping the various responses and trends triggered by the contextual encounter between conditions of modernity and religion, this module will consider both European and world contexts.

Students will be encouraged to reflect on the ways in which their context, religiosity and, in some cases, ministry are shaped by (post) modernity and the prevailing secularisation of the societal order. Equally, students will be encouraged to explore the ways in which an awareness of current socio-religious realities can produce a fresh understanding of these issues.

This module is compulsory for students taking MA Contemporary Faith and Belief.

The assessment will comprise 1 assignment totalling 6,000 words.

The Mystery of Love
This module investigates the philosophical and theological features of love. It looks at some of the most seminal thinkers in the history of theology and philosophy, from the pre-Christian era up to the 21st century. The module has an ecumenical character and examines love from a Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant perspective. It also analyses some of the most sophisticated critiques of Christian love and explores how theology can respond to these critiques. The module revolves around key concepts such as agapē, erōs and philia and centres on the careful study of primary texts (in translations where not originally in English). Every session begins with an introductory lecture on the life and work of the author discussed in class that highlights the key ideas in the selected text. In the second half of the session there is time for guided group discussion. You are invited to critically reflect on your own understanding of love. The wide range of different texts will help you to broaden your intellectual horizon and to develop and refine your theological position.

The following questions will be addressed: What is the relationship between agapē, erōs and philia? How does Christian theology deal with the tension between preferential love (erotic love, friendship) and the demand for universal love (neighbour love)? Is reciprocity an intrinsic part of Christian love, or is the highest form of love unilateral? Does love occur spontaneously, or is it a virtue that needs to be acquired? What is the relationship between different models of love and metaphysics (esp. the relationship between nature/creation and grace)?

Aside from the appropriate programme co-requisites, it would be expected that students registered for the module (and programme) would have achieved philosophical and theological understanding equivalent to level 6 in order to engage with the module content.

The module will be assessed by a 6,000 word written assignment.

Ecumenism in Theory and Practice
This module aims to introduce students to the history, methodology, breadth and achievements of the movement for Christian unity. It pays particular attention to issues of ecclesiology in order to enable students to engage constructively with the challenges of division within the Christian community. The module explores ecumenism as praxis, as dynamic theological enterprise, and as permanent calling to all theology. The module also tackles the concept of unity and its theological implications. It studies the theological and ecclesiological implications of a variety of inter-church agreements and theological texts involving mostly the larger, longer-established Christian churches, placing these in historical and cultural context. The module addresses ecumenical activity between particular, local ecclesial communities, but also in global ecumenical platforms, seeking to relate national and worldwide patterns of ecumenism to local Christian experience.

The assessment will comprise one written assignment of 6,000 words.

Christianity and Ecology
This module starts from the questions raised by ecological awareness about our understanding of the natural world and the human place in the world. Its aim is to explore the theological resources for a response within Christian traditions, including the often neglected Christian East which has been making significant contributions on ecological questions for some time.
The foundation of the course will be the sources and practices common to East and West, including but not limited to patristic writings of the first millennium, sacramental life, lives of the saints. It will also look at ways in which these resources are used today in ecological thinking, particularly though not exclusively in Orthodox Christian writers.

Each lecture will be followed by a seminar for which the students will be given preparatory reading. In their seminar contributions, students will be encouraged to draw on resources from their own particular tradition in responding to the lecture and readings.

The assessment will comprise a 6,000 word paper on a topic chosen from a list of questions.

Theology and Science
Some of the main challenges to any theistic worldview arise from the sciences of our time. In the science-theology dialogue of the last half-century there have been attempts to meet these challenges in a variety of ways, and these attempts, together with their theological implications, will be explored in this module. There will be a particular focus on the concept of natural theology, the nature of scientific and theological language usage, theological anthropology, the Christian doctrine of creation, and the problem of divine action in a world characterised by obedience to laws of nature. The student will, by the end of the course, have a broad understanding of the recent history of the science-theology dialogue. The aim is to enable students to undertake an in-depth and sophisticated investigation of one or more key topics at the interface of theology and science. They will learn how to integrate theological thinking into their own spiritual formation and intellectual outlook on the world.

The module will be assessed by a 6,000 word written assignment.

Philosophical Theology
This module investigates the relationship between theology and philosophy. The precise theme that will be discussed may change from year to year. Possible foci are topics such as ‘faith and reason’, ‘evil’, ‘divine and human action’, ‘language/semiotics’, ‘religious epistemology’, etc.
The aim of the module is to familiarize you with the most important positions, movements and schools in Philosophical Theology. The question of how we are to conceive the relationship between theology and philosophy is theologically of utmost importance and has consequences for all aspects of human life: anthropology, politics, culture, etc.

You will learn how to understand, interpret and contextualize theological and philosophical texts written by leading religious thinkers. The module discusses texts from the Continental tradition, Analytic Philosophy of Religion and Russian Religious Philosophy. Prior knowledge of philosophical theology and philosophy of religion is an advantage, but no prerequisite to attend the module. To make the most of this module you should be intellectually curious and willing to meticulously analyse dense and complex texts. You are invited to critically reflect on your own presuppositions regarding the relationship between theology and philosophy. The wide range of different texts will help you to broaden your intellectual horizon and to develop and refine your own position.

Aside from the appropriate programme co-requisites, it would be expected that students registered for the module (and programme) would have achieved philosophical and theological understanding equivalent to level 6 in order to engage with the module content.

The module will be assessed by a 6,000 word written assignment.


Entry requirements

The normal entrance requirement for the postgraduate programmes in the Cambridge Theological Federation is a first- or good second-class honours degree in a relevant subject. Examples would include Ethics, Philosophy, Theology, or other related subjects.

The CTF will also consider graduates in other disciplines who may also be admitted to the programme on a case by case basis. The CTF will also take seriously, on a case by case basis, applications from candidates without an appropriate undergraduate degree but that can demonstrate significant relevant experience, such as within professional or ministerial roles, especially for candidates who have not had the opportunity to engage in formal higher education before.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by the House they have applied to. The Federation reserves the right not to admit applicants who do not satisfactorily demonstrate their motivation or ability to fit into the learning community of the chosen Federation House. Applicants can only be admitted if the interview confirms their teachability, and if there is clear indication that they are able to establish and maintain meaningful learning relationships with their tutors and fellow students.

English Language requirements
Our standard entry criteria for postgraduate courses is IELTS 6.5 or equivalent, with nothing lower than 5.5 in any of the four elements (listening, speaking, reading and writing).

We also accept the following English language tests as equivalent to IELTS 6.5 with 5.5 in each element:

  • ETS TOEFL iBT with 88 overall and a minimum of 17 in Writing and Listening, 18 in Reading and 20 in Speaking
  • Pearson PTE with 61 overall and a minimum of 51 in all components.

However, students requiring visas to study full time in the UK should note that the government will only accept an IELTS result as evidence of meeting the English language requirement.

For fees and costs please go here.