Course Structure – Theology @ Oxford

Religion and its ideas have shaped much of the way people behave today, and this academic discipline provides an understanding of the intellectual structures of religions, and of the social and cultural contexts for religious belief and practice. Theology at Oxford is an ancient degree and has been instrumental in religious debate, reform and turmoil in the British Isles for eight centuries.

Contemporary study of Theology and Religion at Oxford is adapted to the key debates around religion in the twenty-first century and the curriculum covers all the major world religions. Students can also examine the relationship between religion and science, and the place of religion and religious ethics in public life.

As an undergraduate the first year provides experience of the methods of theological study and an opportunity to acquire skills in one of the scriptural languages, or to investigate philosophical problems. In years two and three you may choose to specialise further in biblical studies, or in historical and contemporary theology, or in the study of another major world religion.


Terms 1 and 2
Courses3 or 4 papers are taken in the first year:

  • The Christian doctrine of creation
  • The study of religions
  • The study of Old Testament set texts
  • The study of New Testament set texts
  • The history of the early Church
  • Introduction to philosophy
  • New Testament Greek
  • Biblical Hebrew
  • Classical Arabic
  • Pali
  • Sanskrit
AssessmentFirst University examinations:
One written paper in three or four subjects
Terms 3–9
CoursesFour compulsory core subjects:

  • History, literature and theology of the Old Testament (Hebrew as optional)
  • History, literature and theology of the New Testament (Greek as optional)
  • Development of the doctrine in the early church
  • Plus one other

Four further options
You may choose between three tracks, from which you take four papers in all:

  • Track One: at least two papers from a range which offers a more extensive study of the Old and New Testaments, with some use of biblical languages
  • Track Two: two or three papers on the development of Christian doctrine and history from the early medieval period to modern times, Philosophy of religion and Christian moral reasoning
  • Track Three: one paper on the nature of religious belief and two papers specializing in one of four major world religions – Judaism, Buddhism, Islam or Hinduism

Whichever track you choose, you may add one or two language papers or an extended essay on a topic from the same or other tracks or from a wider range of other options

AssessmentFinal University examinations:
Eight written papers (four core papers and four options), plus an optional extended essay and optional papers in Greek and Hebrew