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World religions and theology (TSM)

  • Course Type: Undergraduate
  • CAO Course Code: TR001 (TSM)
  • No. of Places: 24
  • Min Entry Points for 2012: 390* - 580* points (Points per TSM combination)
  • Duration: 4 Year(s) Full Time
  • Award: B.A.
  • Course Options:

    TR008: World Religions and theology is a single honor course where religions and theology is read almost exclusively for four years.

    TR001 - World religions and theology (TSM) must be combined with one other subject within the two-subject moderatorship (TSM) programme. TSM is a joint honor programme. An honors degree is awarded in both subjects. For subjects that combine with World religions and theology see TSM: possible combinations.

    Single honor and TSM students follow the same principal subjects. The range of courses undertaken by TSM students, however, is less extensive.

    See also:

    TR030: Catholic theological studies

  • How to apply: See how to apply

Admission Requirements

For Admission requirements please click here


Click on the links below to see the available options

+ EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO

+ Non-EU Applicants

+ Mature Student - Supplementary Application Form

+ Advanced Entry Applications

Course overview

This subject studies religion both as a cultural force that influences worldviews, practices, and institutions, and as distinct traditions, from the monotheistic religions that have shaped Western cultural history to the religions of Asia and Africa. Their origins and scriptures, practices and self-understandings and their histories of translation, reception and encounter from antiquity to the present age are studied in a non-denominational setting. This subject has been taught in Trinity College 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 ethics, their encounters and transformations, 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 of the approaches used to examine them. You will get to know the contributions of different disciplines, such as history, archaeology, art, philology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, literary and cultural studies, to examine the diversity of religions and the changing understanding of religion in their cultural and historical contexts. You will be able to trace major transformations in Western culture from its roots in biblical monotheism and antique philosophy to the present day, and discuss contemporary issues such as science and religion, ethics and technology. You will explore perspectives from other ancient and contemporary religions and get to know their literary, ethical and artistic resources.

The Freshman years

In the Junior Freshman (first) year you will engage in overviews and textual studies of world religions, of the Bible in its historical contexts, of theology and of the history of religions. In your Senior Freshman (second) year you will be able to take up a language - Hebrew, Greek or Arabic, and choose from a range of courses depending on the individual interests you have discovered in your first year. Courses are taught by lectures, class presentations and small-group discussions. There are twelve to fourteen 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 biblical studies
  • Introduction to theology
  • Introduction to religious studies and to philosophy
  • The Abrahamic faiths and their reception in histories of thought and art
  • Religions from the first to the twenty-first century

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

  • Origins and sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • Ancient languages, especially Greek and Hebrew
  • 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 for one of these half year courses.

The Sophister years

In the Sophister (third and fourth) years you will learn to analyse and assess texts for their starting-points, steps of argumentation and practical conclusions, and develop the critical thinking skills, interpretive and comparative competences typical for arts and humanities graduates. You will deepen your understanding of 3000 years of religious and cultural self-understandings and become adept at distinguishing the contribution of different disciplines and methodologies. Topics include

  • Historical and literary approaches to biblical texts
  • Hermeneutics (the theory and practice of interpretation)
  • Classical thinkers and contemporary theories of religion
  • Popular religion
  • Reformation and Enlightenment
  • Ethics in modernity
  • World Christianities
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Theological ethics and ecology
  • Meals in Early Christianity
  • Religion and art

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") to lectures by internationally acclaimed speakers.


Students write between five to six essays per semester depending on whether they choose a language module. In addition they sit end of the year examinations for six courses (three for TSM students).

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 TCD 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 College. 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 College and first tier universities around the world. Trinity College's Careers Advisory Service recently 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

Tel: +353 1 896 1297