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Department of Religions and Theology - Graduates’ Comments

Our graduates seem to value their time in the Department of Religions and Theology and many of them have been kind enough to express this in writing.  See below the comments from Alison Kelly, Nick Haythornwaite, Síne Quinn, Anna Williams, and Kitty Lyddon.

While it has been a number of years since I graduated after studying Biblical and Theological studies at TCD, I can honestly say that the experience, both professionally and personally, has stayed with me in a thoroughly positive way. The friends I made as an undergraduate in the department are still my friends today.

From a professional perspective, as a museum curator working in the field of social history I am constantly engaging with very real and differing human interpretations of historical narratives and the meaning of ‘things’.  Studying in the department gave me the tools to navigate through these debates and discussions reminding me that the joy is not in having one answer to difficult questions but is instead in the wonderfully creative journeys which different responses to these questions allow.  Sometimes frustrating, often challenging, but always exciting.

Alison Kelly is Project Curator, Social History for the British Museum.
Prior to this she worked in Sharjah and in Glasgow.


Why Study Theology? 

Six years ago I chose Theology as a CAO safety net on the basis that under 400 pts would grant me access to one of the best universities in the world. Looking back now, accepting an offer to study Theology at TCD was one of the best decisions I’ve made so far.

Almost everyone has an opinion on religion whilst very few actually understand it in any depth.  In a humanities degree, you will get a broad education. There is no training involved and it is in no way vocational; it will not lead you directly into a career path, but you will learn vital skills for the workplace and for life – 

  • The ability to analyse large documents (unfortunately this will be asked of you for the next 40 years at least… it’s not just for college years so practice now!).
  • The ability to form and understand complex arguments (training for highly skilled and highly paid tasks requires a fertile mind).
  • The ability to prioritise certain tasks correctly and work efficiently under pressure (very few people work steadily throughout the year…!). 

A Theology degree can be specific to nothing or applicable to everything.  Depending on your interests, you can tailor your degree to lean towards history (ancient and recent), philosophy, languages, sociology and even social psychology. There are not too many degrees, which can offer you those choices.

It’s only 6 years since I started my degree so I can remember how it feels to be shopping around for 3rd level courses. You will probably be thinking in one of 2 ways or a combination of the two - ‘I want my degree to be interesting’ and/or ‘I want to give myself the best chance of getting a top class job’.

Not only will your studies interest you, they will make you a more interesting person in the eyes of other people. Trinity is known globally as a centre of excellence. You’ll get a great degree, from a great university and you’ll have a whale of a time getting there. 

Nick Haythornthwaite
Global Markets International
Willis Group


A theology degree is an interesting humanities degree, as it combines many other disciplines and subjects as well as introducing students to some of the best-known thinkers in the Western World. Philosophy, archeology, ethics, history and languages are just some of the other subjects that are studied. Students benefit from studying the two main disciplines: history and theology. Thus ensuring that you can retain historical and factual information, and also question and argue with a philosophical mindset.

The fact that the department is small is a great advantage to students: it is easier to get to know people and there is a good student-teacher ratio. The professors are encouraging, helpful and approachable. As well as being knowledgeable and enthusiastic, they also expect a high standard of academia.
After working in the publishing industry for many years, I returned to Trinity to study an MPhil in Children's Literature. I am now a PhD student in the School of English. Having completed an undergraduate degree in theology, I have a good knowledge of hermeneutics and have found this understanding of the theory of interpretation beneficial in my study of literature. The final year was especially significant to the development of an analytical study of text, as I completed a course on critical theory and theology, and my dissertation entitled 'The Role of Religion in the Literary Works of Albert Camus' involved an examination and critical analysis of three of his texts: The Myth of Sisyphus, The Plague and The Fall.

What you gain from studying theology is an ability to question texts, analyse and articulate ideas and theories and to validate your argument. Studying theology will challenge and encourage you to think and question many theories and beliefs as well as introduce you to some fascinating philosophers and theologians.

Síne Quinn, BA, MPhil
Síne Quinn has worked for The O'Brien Press, Caroll Heinemann and for Callaway Editions and The Vines Agency in New York


Why Study Religions and Theology as a TSM subject?

I specifically chose Religions and Theology at Trinity College Dublin because of the breadth of the curriculum and the freedom of choice that the Department offers. After four years in the Department, I can say that they’re all very friendly and helpful, also!

Studying Religions and Theology introduced me to philosophical and theological concepts that were new to me, as well as challenging my pre-existing thoughts - all while encouraging me to see the practical uses of such big ideas in the world today. As a TSM student, also studying English, I was surprised by how much my subjects overlapped, and how things learned in one could always be useful for the other. Both departments were very helpful when it came to managing deadlines, too!

I feel that I graduated with a broad degree, which I really enjoyed, and which covered a wide variety of disciplines essential for the workplace and for further study.  I would highly recommend Religions and Theology as a TSM subject!

Anna Williams


I had the best time studying at TCD. I chose to read Theology because I wanted to broaden my mind and learn how to think, whist learning about something that I wouldn’t necessarily have access to at any other point in my life. And I was rewarded with four fantastic years and a handful of lasting friends.

All our teachers acknowledged that our class was special. It was small – twenty in our biggest lectures – and varied: we had people from all faiths, all backgrounds and all ages, and this created a dynamic atmosphere for learning and talking over different issues, inside the class and out! The school itself felt like an extended family – the professors were all inspiring, and importantly, very accessible; they were always available for a chat or an explanation and were always very flexible and friendly – many a time we were invited to their houses for dinner and I remember a good few department parties as well.

The skills learned as a student in Trinity and the Department of Theology and Religions are varied and useful: you will learn how to read and write in a better and more efficient way, to speak in front of an audience and remember things succinctly, to formulate your thoughts clearly in order to convey your opinions … All these on top of discovering the prophets of the Old Testament, Kierkegaard’s three stages and a smattering of Greek. It is a fascinating choice of study and people do respond to that later in life. I have noticed that prospective employers have always found my choice of study intriguing and interesting – even though I moved away from Theology after graduating. That was nearly five years ago, and I now work for a publishing company in Dublin.

Kitty Lyddon (TCD 2004–2008)
The Lilliput Press, Dublin



Last updated 7 May 2013 cathriona.russell@tcd.ie (Email).