Bible and the Contemporary World (MLitt) 2016 entry

The MLitt in Bible and the Contemporary World is an interdisciplinary programme between biblical and theological studies and aims to enable students to relate the Christian tradition in creative and productive ways to various aspects of the contemporary world.

Course type

Postgraduate; leading to a Master of Letters (MLitt)

Course duration

One year full time

Entry requirements

A good 2.1 undergraduate Honours degree. You do not need to have a degree in Theology in order to apply for a place on this programme; however, all applicants will be expected to have sufficient knowledge to equip them for postgraduate level of study in the field of theology.

If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.

English language proficiency. See English language tests and qualifications.

Bible and the Contemporary World is also offered as a part-time distance learning programme.

Tuition fees


Application deadline

Application requirements

  • CV
  • sample of academic work (2,000 words)
  • letter of intent (200 to 300 words)
  • two original signed academic references
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates 
  • English language requirements certificate.

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes. 

If you are looking to start this programme in 2017, you can find information about 2017 entry on the 2017 Bible and the Contemporary World MLitt page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in our archive.

Course information

Course highlights

  • Gain an understanding of how public issues and culture both shape and are shaped by Christian theology, biblical interpretation and practice.
  • Combines campus-based and virtual learning modules.
  • Join an international and interdenominational group of 20 to 25 students in relating the Christian traditions to a host of public issues.

Teaching format

The MLitt in Bible and the Contemporary World is a one-year taught programme run by the School of Divinity. 

Each semester begins with a residential study week held at St Mary's College, the School of Divinity. A typical residential study week, which is shared with the distance learning part-time students, includes lectures, seminars and other learning activities. Attendance is required at each study week from Monday through Wednesday, but students are encouraged to stay for the remainder of the week. You will need to pay for your own travel and accommodation costs to attend these mandatory study weeks. 

After the study week, students take one residential module and two Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) modules, which are shared with students on the part-time, distance learning version of this programme.

Each VLE module comprises 15 weeks of study (typically divided into four units) and focuses on independent learning. In each unit of a module, students are supplied a number of scholarly articles and extracts from books which are supplemented by two written lectures available online in digital format; you will also have access to the library's extensive online subscriptions of journals and ebooks. In lieu of seminars, you will participate in online bulletin board discussions with your peers (not held in real time). Students will have one personal tutorial (usually via online video messaging or telephone) with a tutor per module.

Assessment comprises four essays for each VLE module and a combination of essay and written examination for the campus-based module.

The taught portion is followed by a 15,000-word dissertation written over three months during the summer and submitted mid-August. Students are assigned a supervisor who gives guidance on the topic and provides academic support during the research and writing phases.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue.

Semester 1 modules

Residential study week in St Andrews, 29 August to 2 September 2016.

In the first semester, students take one compulsory VLE module and one residential optional module.

and an additional 40 credits from one of the following (students may not be eligible for all modules; see the module catalogue):

  • The Origins of Christian Theology: examines the beginnings of Christian theology in the New Testament texts and in early Christian writers.
  • A Selected Patristic Theologianallows students to engage at length and in depth with the thought of a single, formative, patristic thinker.
  • A Selected Mediaeval Theologianallows students to engage at length and in depth with the thought of a single, formative, mediaeval thinker.
  • A Selected Modern Theologianallows students to engage at length and in depth with the thought of a single, formative, modern thinker.
  • The Doctrine of the Trinitythe development of the doctrine of the Trinity from the fourth-century conciliar settlements down to the present day.
  • History of Biblical Interpretationcritically and historically surveys the most common interpretations of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the Septuagint and the New Testament. 
  • Theological Engagements with the Arts: Rationales, Methods and Texts: addresses theological questions about human artistry and introduces students to different ways of handling the relationship between Christian theology and the arts.
  • Religious Experience and Aesthetic Theory: seeks to understand how historical context through the ages has shaped different ways of facilitating human experience of God, and explores the aesthetic theories undergirding approaches that have come to prominence at different times and places.
  • Christian Doctrine and the Arts: examines key Christian doctrines and their presentation in the history of the arts.
  • With permission, credit may be taken from other postgraduate taught modules offered by the School.

Semester 2 module

Residential study week in St Andrews, 16 to 20 January 2017.

  • The Bible and Contemporary Issues: explores a variety of hermeneutical approaches that have been proposed to make intelligent connections between the Christian scriptures, events, trends and cultural assumptions.

The modules listed ran in the academic year 2015-2016 and are indicative of this course. There is no guarantee that these modules will run for 2016 entry.

Take a look at the most up to date modules in the module catalogue.


Students will begin research for the 15,000-word dissertation early in Semester 2, but will focus particularly on researching and writing from May through to submission in mid-August. Dissertations will be supervised by members of the teaching staff who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process.

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MLitt, there is an exit award available that allows suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MLitt.

Conferences and events

The School of Divinity regularly hosts international conferences and smaller symposia on themes across the field of biblical and theological studies.

Previous conferences


There are many potential scholarships or support schemes available to postgraduates.

St Salvator’s Chapel Choir scholarship
This provides choral and organ scholarships for home and EU postgraduates which subsidises music lessons and provides opportunities to attend organ academies, recitals and the annual choir tour.

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships. 

After the MLitt

Research degrees

In addition to the MLitt, the School offers a two-year residential Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree option in Bible and the Contemporary World.

Many of our graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews.

Recent Graduate Discount
The University of St Andrews offers a 10% reduction in postgraduate tuition fees for students who have graduated during the last three years and are now starting a postgraduate programme.

PhD in Divinity


Students on this programme have gone on to work in the charitable sector and to further studies. Previous students have held professional occupations in education, law, business, administration, charities and ministry.


School of Divinity
St Mary's College
South Street
St Andrews
KY16 9JU

Course director: Dr Eric Stoddart

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2850

You are welcome to contact the course director with any informal queries about the programme.

Divinity website

Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our Admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online. (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online. (PDF, 84 KB)