It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this post, Dr Jonathan Hill asks, “Why should A-Level Philosophy students consider Theology and Religion at university?”
What attracted you to philosophy? For a lot of people, it’s the prospect of grappling with some of the biggest questions imaginable. What is the meaning of life? What is most valuable in life? Is there life after death? Is there a God? Why is there suffering?
In A-Level Philosophy you may have encountered questions like these and want to pursue them in more depth. One of the best ways of doing this is by studying Theology and Religion – because all of those questions are part of Philosophy of Religion, and a degree in Theology and Religion actually offers more opportunity to study them than a degree in Philosophy does. Philosophy is a very broad subject, covering not just these religious and existential questions but also questions about language, politics, ethics, metaphysics, mind, science, and so on. So most Philosophy degrees devote relatively little time to the “big questions”. A Theology and Religion degree is much more focused on them, and it can include a lot of philosophy too.
At the University of Exeter, our BA honours in Theology and Religion offers you the opportunity to study Philosophy of Religion throughout your three years. It ranges from introductory modules in the first year to more in-depth studies of the history of philosophy and theology, as well as the philosophical study of Christian doctrines, in the later years.
What will you get out of this? An obvious answer is: the ability to assess critically the kinds of claims we hear constantly – from religious preachers, from politicians, from newspapers, from our friends – about religion and its relation to society and ourselves. But more than that, you will also gain insight into the thinking of people you disagree with. A degree in Theology and Religion gives you the opportunity to study a wide range of beliefs and understand why people hold them. In doing so, you will develop your ability to empathise with those who hold different views from yourself, and that is an increasingly rare and valuable skill.