Trinity College Dublin

Skip to main content.

Top Level TCD Links

Courses

World religions and theology

Admission Requirements

For Admission requirements please click here

Apply

To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

Course overview

This subject studies distinct religious traditions as well as “religion” as a cultural force that influences worldviews, practices, and institutions. Our programme of study focuses on religions from antiquity to the present age, from the ancient Mediterranean and Near East – especially Judaism, Christianity and Islam – to the religions of Asia and Africa. In this Arts and Humanities degree you will have the opportunity to learn about the origin of religious traditions, their textual traditions, languages, practices, self-understandings and reception. Religion is studied in a non-confessional setting. Theology is a subject that has been taught in Trinity since its foundation in 1592.

Is this the right course for you?

The study of religions has never been more relevant than it is in today’s globalised world. If you are interested in the sources of distinct religions and cultures, their histories of thought and influence, and the way they shape our contemporary societies, you will thrive in this course.

Course content

In taking this four-year arts degree, you will engage in broad introductions as well as in depth analyses of religious traditions and the approaches used to examine them. You will get to know the contributions of different disciplines, such as history, archaeology, philology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, literary and cultural studies in order to examine the diversity of religions and the changing understanding of religion in their cultural and historical contexts. In your exploration of religious traditions you will be able to trace major transformations in world cultures from antiquity to the modern period, including ancient Jewish and Christian thought, science and religion, ethics and technology. In studying ancient and contemporary religions you will become familiar with the way in which our societies are indebted to a wide range of literary, linguistic, ethical, and artistic influences.

The Freshman years

In the Junior Freshman (first) year you will engage in overviews and textual studies of world religions, the Bible in its historical contexts, theology and the history of religions. In your Senior Freshman (second) year you will be able to take up a language - Classical Hebrew and Koine Greek - and choose from a range of courses depending on the individual interests you have discovered in your first year. Courses are taught by lectures, seminars and small-group tutorials. There are approximately 10 contact hours per week. In your first year you will study a range of introductory courses on topics such as:

  • Introduction to world religions and the history of religions
  • Introduction to ancient religions and their textual traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam)
  • Introduction to theology
  • Introduction to the theory and method of the study of religion

From the Senior Freshman (second) year on, students may choose modules on subjects such as:

  • Origins and histories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • Hebrew and Greek
  • The philosophical and theological debates between Jewish, Christian and Islamic thinkers in the Middle Ages
  • Popular religion, alternative forms of religiosity and new religious movements
  • Key controversies in Western religious and philosophical thought
  • Asian religious traditions and their histories
  • Religion, media, and the public sphere
  • Philosophical and theological approaches to God
  • Biomedical ethics, including issues such as genetic enhancement and transhumanism

Students in the second year may substitute a Broad Curriculum course (see www.tcd.ie/Broad_Curriculum) for one of these half year courses.

The Sophister years

In your Junior Sophister (third) year you will have the opportunity to select advanced courses in your areas of concentration during your Freshman years. Included in options during the JS year are intermediate level language classes. In the Senior Sophister (fourth) year students learn in small group seminars that allow for conversation based learning. Seminar topics include:

  • Advanced offerings in ancient Judaism and early Christianity (e.g. Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient apocalyptic, “Gnosticism”)
  • Contemporary issues in religion and society
  • Popular religion
  • Religion and politics
  • Ethics in modernity
  • World Christianities
  • Theological ethics and ecology
  • Advanced language offerings (Advanced Greek texts, Advanced Hebrew texts, Classical Ethiopic)

In the Senior Sophister (fourth) year you will write a thesis of 15,000 words with a supervisor chosen from an area that you want to specialise in. You will learn to work out careful argumentations and critical discussions of research literature on the topic of your choice.

Students not only encounter religious cultures in the lecture theatre and libraries, but also enjoy excursions to local museums and libraries (e.g. the Chester Beatty Library, Marsh's Library), visits to local religious centres and other cultural destinations central to the history of religious traditions. A range of extracurricular activities is available, such as participation in lively College societies (e.g. the Theological society "Theo") that organise lectures by internationally acclaimed speakers.

Assessment

Students are assessed by a variety of means: essays, gobbets and continual in-class assessments. Most classes are assessed by an end of the year examination.

Study abroad

A student exchange programme offers you the opportunity to spend up to a year at the University of Leuven in Belgium, the University of Glasgow in Scotland or other universities open to Trinity students, e.g. in the US and Canada.

Career opportunities

The course in World Religions and Theology is an arts degree and shares many features of other arts degrees in Trinity. A knowledge of the cultures, values and histories of different societies in the global community is an asset for many types of careers. Students graduate with an understanding of the challenges and opportunities which multi-cultural societies present. This understanding is of particular value to those who pursue careers in media, education, public policy making, human resources and health care professions, law and business. Graduates have skills which are highly valued by potential employers, leading to careers in publishing, media, business, education, cultural institutions, non-government organisations, migrant services, law, psychology, and healthcare. Many of our graduates go on for postgraduate studies at Trinity and first tier universities around the world. Trinity’s Careers Advisory Service surveyed employers about what they looked for in arts graduates and top of the list came: enthusiasm for the position, personal qualities and transferable skills such as good oral communication, analytical ability, critical thinking, presentation techniques, team work and problem solving. Students of religions and theology have ample opportunity to develop all of these skills within a department which is relatively small and very student centred.

Further information

www.tcd.ie/Religions_Theology

Tel: +353 1 896 1297

||