Philosophical Theology and Religion

Philosophical Theology and Religion

Philosophical Theology at Aberdeen involves the study of theology in a philosophical mode, the investigation of philosophical figures and ideas as they relate to religion and theology, and exploration of topics in the philosophy of religion which interface with theology. This may involve study of important historical figures like Plato or Kierkegaard, or the focused study of concepts such as human agency, God, evil, and the nature of history. It may also take the form of historical examination of the development of discipline norms, metaphysical debates, and the evolving relationship between theology and natural science.

Philosophical theology is a major research concentration in Divinity at Aberdeen and draws resources from both the Divinity and Philosophy departments.

The department has a large and flourishing cohort of master’s and doctoral students from the UK and around the world, attracted by the high quality of teaching and supervision of our staff as well as the energy and warmth of our community of scholars. We have worked hard to build a collaborative research community in which students work alongside one another as collaborators rather than competitors.

Study in philosophical theology is enhanced by our close working relations with those undertaking research in other theological fields, especially practical theology, biblical studies, systematic theology, theological ethics, and the history of Christianity.

Studying Philosophical Theology and Religion at Aberdeen

At Aberdeen, students can expect rigorous training, attentive supervision and an extensive programme of research seminars. 

Doctoral study at Aberdeen revolves around the doctoral thesis. Over the length of their programme (either full- or part-time), students will research and write an original contribution to scholarship on their chosen topic, in close consultation with their supervisor. To learn more about potential supervisors, click the ‘Supervising Staff’ tab. For more about how to apply, click here.

Doctoral study at Aberdeen also extends beyond independent research. Students and staff meet year-round in the research seminars to study and discuss key texts, hear and respond to papers by guest speakers, as well as for doctoral students to present their own work to other students and staff in a friendly and supportive forum. In addition doctoral students are welcome to audit Masters-level courses. Students at Aberdeen not only receive regular one-on-one supervision, but also stimulation and support from their student colleagues and other Divinity staff members.

Research at Masters or PhD level can be undertaken at Aberdeen on a full-time or a part-time basis. One of the most exciting features of studying at Aberdeen is the large full-time, on-campus cohort of students who regularly study, socialize, worship, and even reside together. Students enjoy additional discussion and camaraderie with one another and with staff in informal gatherings that take place throughout the year.

Supervising Staff

We are interested in hearing from students wishing to undertake postgraduate level work on Philosophical Theology and Religion at research Masters or at Doctoral level. Please contact one of the supervisors below if you are thinking about applying for a research degree in their subject area.

Prof. John

Prof. Beth

Prof. Phil

Dr Sam

Dr Daniel

How to Apply

Application to study Philosophical Theology and Religion at Aberdeen is competitive. The strongest applicants will have (1) adequate preparatory study, (2) a good fit with their intended supervisor, and (3) a well-developed proposal. This section, together with more general information found here and here, is intended to help prospective students put together the strongest application possible.

Applicants for the PhD are normally required to have completed significant prior study in theology and/or philosophy. Successful applicants are likely to have a minimum of a high 2.1 or a Masters. In terms of GPA, successful applicants are likely to have at least a 3.3 GPA in an area of related study or a Masters. Applications will be considered individually, but a masters-level course of study is highly encouraged.

In preparation for a PhD, Divinity at Aberdeen offers two different options for masters-level study. The first is a taught Masters in Theology (MTh), where students undertake advanced coursework in the form of discussion-based seminars. Information about that program and how to apply can be found here. The second is a Masters in Theology (MTh) by research in which students have an opportunity to research and write on their own proposed topic in consultation with a supervisor, just as they would for a PhD thesis, but on a smaller scale. Information about that program and how to apply can be found here.

Either in combination with a preparatory Masters, or in place of one, students desiring further time and study for their PhD are encouraged to consider the Extended PhD. The Extended PhD is a four-year programme for full-time study, or a eight-year programme for part-time study. For more information, follow this link to the PhD Research page and then click on the ‘Extended PhD’ tab for more information.

Once applicants have considered their course of study, the next step is to develop a research topic and match that interest with a potential supervisor. With a proposal in mind, applicants are encouraged to contact their potential supervisor directly by email. Click on the ‘Supervising Staff’ tab for detailed information about staff research interests. Clicking on staff names will link to their contact page with more information about them and their work.

Potential supervisors will ask students to prepare the following documents:

1. a concise CV, including grades awarded for all degrees gained

2. an academic writing sample in the discipline of theology of substantial length in English

3. a research proposal for the MTh or PhD programme in view

Students normally begin their studies in September for the MTh and in September and January for the PhD.


Information about applying for doctoral study at Aberdeen can be found here and here.

Information about the taught Masters in Theology (MTh) can be found here.

Information about the research Masters in Theology (MTh) can be found here.