Our MTh in Theological Ethics provides an intensive introduction to the rich tradition of Christian moral thought as a basis for engaging and contributing to contemporary ethical debates in Church and society.

Key Facts

1 Year / 2 Years
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
Learning Mode
On Campus Learning

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The MTh in Theological Ethics concentrates on the Christian tradition of theological ethics with a view to contemporary ethical issues and developments. The one-year programme consists of four courses followed by a dissertation. The programme has a particular focus on the work of classical theologians such as Augustine, Aquinas and Luther and more modern thinkers such as Barth, Bonhoeffer, Niebuhr, Hauerwas and O’Donovan. This focus upon in-depth engagement with major theologians and texts serves the overall purpose of increasing your analytic rigour and depth of thinking about contemporary issues and debates.

Staff members in Theological Ethics—Dr Brian Brock, Dr Mike Laffin, and Dr Michael Mawson—all cooperate closely and on the basis of a shared theological-pedagogical vision. You will also benefit from a culture of cooperation with staff members in both Systematic and Practical Theology—Dr Chris Brittain, Prof Tom Greggs, Prof Paul Nimmo, Prof John Swinton, Dr Don Wood, Prof Philip Ziegler—and with other disciplines in the department and university.

The programme is a stand alone degree, but also provides a strong foundation if you are planning to continue into doctoral studies. It is also available as a part-time degree over two years.

What You'll Study

The information below applies to the 1 year full time / 2 year part time on campus learning MTh programme which runs in September.

Degree Structure


The course is taught on campus over 11 months starting in September. The Masters degree can be pursued on a full-time (one year) or part-time basis (two years).

Compulsory Courses

Two courses in Theological Ethics. Options may include:

  • Great Thinkers in Theological Ethics
  • Creation and Christian Ethics

One course based on the year-long Theological Ethics seminar

  • All staff, doctoral students and MTh students in the Theological Ethics area participate in a weekly seminar that covers fundamental texts in moral theology in the Christian tradition.

One other couse in theology (30 credits). Options may include:

  • Readings in Systematic Theology
  • Spirituality, Health and Healing
  • The Emergence of Christology


Students are also required to write a 20,000 word dissertation which is due at the end of their programme. Some past dissertation subjects include:

  • Tolstoy’s Reading of the Sermon on the Mount
  • Thomistic Sources of Truth and Pluralism in MacIntyre and Porter
  • Technology, Violence, and Ethics: Paul Virilio’s Eschatological Vision
  • Reimagining Receiving through the Embodied Practices of Communion
  • Just War in an Age of Terrorism
Creation in Christian Ethics (DR502T)

This course examines the account of creation in the biblical book of Genesis in order to explore the theological account of human moral action it offers. By exploring different movements of the creation story, the course lays out the basic structure of Christian moral theology. The aim is to develop a theological approach to the fundamentals of Christian ethics, clarifying its relevance for issues of sexuality and procreation, economics, work, governance, health, animals and the environment. The course offers a broad theoretical framework for thinking about the whole scope of ethical questions in contemporary society. Download course guide.

Great Thinkers in Theological Ethics (DR551Q)

This course will introduce students to a number of major thinkers in the area of Theological Ethics. Its focus will be on reading and discussing texts by prominent figures who are of ongoing significance. Moreover, this course will include figures from different theological and confessional backgrounds (Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran, non-Conformist, etc.), and explore whether and how their theological commitments connect with practical stances and approaches (i.e. on issues of war and peace, sexual ethics, bioethics, etc.)

Dissertation (DR552G)

20,000 word dissertation written on a topic related to the student's taught Master's programme and agreed to by the supervisor and the programme co-ordinator.

Special Subject (DR502X)

This course allows a student to do in-depth study in a specific area in Divinity or Religious Studies agreed upon with his or her supervisor and approved by the Head of School. It may be offered in conjunction with the student sitting in on level 4 lectures relating to the subject material.

Special Subject (DR552X)

This course allows a student to do in-depth study in a specific area in Divnity or Religious Studies agreed upon with his or her supervisor and approved by the Head of School. It may be offered in conjunction with the student sitting in on level 4 lectures relating to the subject material

Optional Courses

One of the following: DR502X, DR503F, DR503M, DR503N, DR553M

One substitute from other courses with approval by Programme Co-ordinator.

Special Subject (DR502X)

This course allows a student to do in-depth study in a specific area in Divinity or Religious Studies agreed upon with his or her supervisor and approved by the Head of School. It may be offered in conjunction with the student sitting in on level 4 lectures relating to the subject material.

The Emergence of Christology (DR503F)

How did the Jesus of history become the proclaimed Christ of faith? At the heart of the earliest Christian Christology is the variously expressed association of the pre-Easter Jesus and his message with the post-Easter proclamation of Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, as testified in the New Testament. This course explores some of the early expressions and trajectories of the early Christian conviction to this effect, how these related to contemporary messianic expectations as well as other relevant Early Jewish and Graeco-Roman concepts and beliefs, and, of course to the focal point of early Christianity: the Christ-event itself. Download course guide.

Preaching to Change the World: Exploring the Theology and Practice of Christian Witness (DR503M)

This course engages students in a sustained exploration of the theology and practice of preaching in the context of Christian worship with a view to the wider horizon of public communication. Initial investigation of traditional and contemporary theologies of the Word prepares us to focus upon the theological and rhetorical analysis of actual sermons considered in video, audio and textual forms. We will critically examine the theological frameworks within which preaching is understood, various possibilities for understanding the relation of biblical text, contemporary context, and preached sermon, as well questions concerning the interplay of form and content in the act of preaching. Download course guide.

Christian Practices (DR553M)

Christian practices are not activities as such, and neither are they religious duties. They are, rather, patterns of communal life within the Christian tradition that address fundamental human needs by revealing the presence and power of God. Practices point beyond the individualism of our present culture and disclose the social qualities of the Christian life. This course will explore the role and the effect which a number of Christian practices have played in the lives of local congregations. Students will have the opportunity to reflect upon the potential role of these practices in their own areas of ministry

Readings in Systematic Theology (DR503N)

This new course engages at length and in depth with the thought of one or more formative thinkers in the Christian theological tradition to foster critical reflection on the scope and coherence of Christian teaching as well as the defining concerns and conventions of Christian systematic theology; and to cultivate in students the interpretative and analytical skills required for advanced work in the discipline. In a year-long series of fortnightly seminars, students will engage intensively with one or more works from the Christian doctrinal tradition. Download course guide.

Featured Project

Publication and Research Activity

Brian Brock, Beginnings: Interrogating Hauerwas
Brian Brock (and Bernd Wannenwetsch), The Malady of the Christian Body
Mike Mawson and Philip Ziegler, Christ, Church and World
Brian Brock and Michael Mawson, The Freedom of a Christian Ethicist
Mike Laffin, The Promise of Martin Luther’s Political Theology

See also: Barth and Bonhoeffer studies

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Research
  • Individual Projects


Courses are assessed through essays, presentations, assignments and exams.

Why Study Theological Ethics?

  • The University of Aberdeen has historic and contemporary strengths in the area of Theology.
  • This programme is one of only two Master’s programmes within the UK that focuses specifically on theological ethics.
  • With three full-time staff members, the programme has one of the largest concentration of scholars working specifically in theological ethics within the UK.
  • There is a large and vibrant postgraduate community in Theological Ethics, consisting of doctoral and Master’s students from the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Australia.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Status Amount
Home / EU / RUK Students Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year £6,000
International Students Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year £14,300
  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


View all funding options in our Funding Database.

‘Aberdeen combines an engaged faculty with serious students making it one of most important centres for the future of theological ethics.’  -- Stanley Hauerwas

Entry Requirements

For more information about the application process, including details about which supporting documents you will be asked to provide, please click here.


Candidates must normally have an Honours degree to at least 2.1 standard in an appropriate discipline or equivalent qualifications (normally a 3.0 GPA in North America).

Language Requirements

All students entering the University must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study effectively at the University of Aberdeen.

Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the College of Arts and Social Sciences Postgraduate Standard level of English proficiency.

If you have not achieved the required scores, the University of Aberdeen offers pre-sessional English courses. Further details are available on our Language Centre website.

Nationals of some English-speaking countries or those who hold degrees from some English-speaking countries may be exempted from this requirement. Details of countries recognised as English-speaking can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages.

Document Requirements

  • Degree Certificatea degree certificate showing your qualifications
  • Degree Transcripta full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
  • Personal Statementa detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme


Our students come from all over the British Isles and from overseas and go on to a wide range of professions after they graduate. The MTh in Theological Ethics also provides a strong foundation for doctoral studies at the University of Aberdeen or elsewhere.

Our Experts

Other Experts
Dr Brian Brock
Dr Michael Laffin
Programme Coordinator
Dr Michael Mawson

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

What our Alumni Say

  • Michael Morelli, at

    Michael Morelli

    Studying theological ethics at University of Aberdeen has been fantastic. It combines a high level of theological scholarship with a sincere concern for how that scholarship relates to the world we are in.
  • Nathalie Mares, at

    Nathalie Mares

    I loved the flexibility and variety of the MTh in Theological Ethics. I wasn't ready to immediately specialise following my undergraduate degree, so taught classes provided me with a broad groundwork from which more focused study could spring.

Theological Learning Since 1495

Theological Ethics explores how a Christian ethos leads to political and ethical engagement.


School of Divinity, History and Philosophy
University of Aberdeen
50-52 College Bounds


AB24 3DS
+44 (0)1224 272890
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