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Confederal School of Religions, Peace Studies and Theology

School Description:

Welcome to the Confederal School of Religions, Theology and Ecumenics which brings together three distinct academic entities: the Department of Religions and Theology; the Irish School of Ecumenics (Dublin and Belfast); and the Loyola Institute. Located in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the Confederal School engages with such diverse areas as, biblical studies, theology, ethics, religious studies, international peace studies, reconciliation, as independent but related disciplinary fields. Research and scholarship are integral to the activities of each of the three academic units of the Confederal School, with different but inter-related research strengths and thematic priorities within each unit.

Department of Religions and Theology

The Department of Religions and Theology has research strengths in Biblical Studies and Early Christianity, Ethics and Christian theology, and in Religious Studies. Its staff members have published in the following areas in which they invite applications for postgraduate supervision:

Biblical Studies and Early Christianity treat the development of and interaction between religious traditions in Antiquity from the second century BCE to the third century CE by investigating the writings, languages, intellectual currents, material culture, archaeology and art from Second Temple Judaism to the inculturations of Christianity around the Mediterranean.

Areas of specialisation in Biblical Studies include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the synoptic gospels, the book of Revelation, conceptualizations of “evil” (Dualism, Demonology), and the phenomenon of ancient “apocalypticism”.

Studies in Early Christianity center on devotion and religious identity in the Graeco-Roman world, Greek language, the interpretation of the New Testament and its reception, the use of pagan sources in Jewish and early Christian literature and early Christian art. Specific themes include the redaction and interpretation of the Gospel of John, the reception of Paul in the second and third century, and the role of Graeco-Roman moral philosophy in the development of early Christian asceticism.

In Philosophical, theological and domain-specific ethics, areas of specialisation are:
- foundations of ethics, theories of action, anthropology and ethics, discourse ethics, P. Ricoeur;
- the autonomy approach in Christian ethics; religion, public reason, and the public sphere;
- research ethics, environmental ethics, biomedical ethics, ethics of memory.

Themes in Christian Theology include conditions of faith in modernity, science and religion, hermeneutics, Christology and theological anthropology, F. Schleiermacher.

In Religious Studies, a core area of enquiry is aesthetics of knowledge in science and religion. Specialisations include method and theory in the academic study of religion; religion and knowledge cultures; transfer processes between religion, science, and the arts; religion and rhetoric; theory of metaphor; plausibility structures, and religious change in modernity.

While these are key areas of competence in the Department, applications for research projects on cognate themes are welcome.

Irish School of Ecumenics

The Irish School of Ecumenics, is committed to the study and promotion of dialogue, peace and reconciliation in Ireland and other contexts worldwide. ISE is recognised for its vigorous interdisciplinary approach to teaching, research and social engagement. Theoretical and applied research are at the heart of ISE as a graduate institute, where students and staff engage with critical issues facing global societies, governments, faith communities and international institutions and NGOs committed to the promotion of peace and reconciliation. Details about staff research projects and recent publications can be found on individual staff pages and at

ISE collaborates with other departments e.g. Sociology, Gender and Women’s Studies, Religions and Theology, plays a leading role in Trinity's interdisciplinary research centres such as the International Institute for Integration Studies (Social Sciences), the Long Room Hub (Arts and Humanities), the Post-Conflict Justice Centre (Social Sciences, Law and Humanities), and the Trinity International Development Initiative,

ISE offer a stimulating environment for students to pursue Ph.D. and M.Litt. degrees and post-doctoral research in the fields of peace and conflict studies, memory and reconciliation, and in advanced ecumenics. ISE staff regard research students as active partners, participating fully in the life of the School, sharing their work through seminars, conferences, public lectures and in field work and social engagement.

We encourage applicants for PhD research in areas relating to the academic work of ISE and the research interests of individual staff members, including ecumenical and comparative theology; interreligious histories and theologies of dialogue; religious worlds and the politics of difference; ethical peace building in plural cultures; post-conflict justice, memory and reconciliation (Ireland, Sri Lanka, Middle East, South Africa...); the ethics of war and peace; international organizations and conflict resolution; gender and peacebuilding; human rights, development, social and eco-justice in geo-political context; religion in secular and post-secular societies and in international relations.

Ph.D. degrees generally are completed in four years full-time and six years part-time. M.Litt degrees are completed in two years full-time and four years part-time. Students benefit from the full range of facilities and support services available at TCD. More details about our current research students’ projects are available at Initial enquiries should be directed to Students taking research degrees (M.Litt. or Ph.D.) can choose to do their research within either ISE campus in Dublin or Belfast.

Loyola Institute

The Loyola Institute is dedicated to teaching and research in the Catholic theological tradition. The Institute has specific research interests in the following research areas: Systematic theology, ethics in society and social justice, classic texts and spirituality, and theology and cultures.

Among the research interests of the staff members are the contemporary debates on the question of God, existence and relevance; philosophical and theological approaches to human flourishing, and key issues in contemporary ecclesiology. Staff have published in the area of Eucharist and ministry, and are active in research in this area.

A particular area of interest is in the theology of Thomas Aquinas and its relevance to the contemporary theological project. A current doctoral student is pursuing a thesis which seeks to link the thought of Aquinas with the writings of J.J. Jung, working with materials originally developed by Victor White OP. Staff members have written on the theological opus of Herbert McCabe OP and continue to do research in this area.

The Institute has research interest and a particular concentration on issues of social justice; theology’s role in social and political difficulty, where staff have made significant published contribution. Theology’s contribution to dialogue across the boundaries of difference, particularly regarding ecumenism, poverty, and matters of identity is another area of research interest and strength.

In the area of scripture scholarship, published research interests include the Bible and popular culture, and the Bible and early cinema. Other areas of research include the Hebrew bible especially Deuteronomistic history and Ezra-Nehemiah, the Aramaic background to the New Testament and the Gospel of John, ancient translation traditions especially Aramaic traditions: Targum, Peshitta and Qumran versions.

The Loyola Institute staff welcomes inquiries in any of these areas or in cognate areas, and offers a stimulating environment to pursue PhD and M. Litt degrees by research.

In exceptional circumstances it may be possible to register retrospectively. Applicants wishing to be considered for retrospective admission should contact the Graduate Studies Office by emailing

March 2019 Entry

September 2018 Entry

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