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Course details

This course contains one module, ‘Catholic Theology: A Preliminary Tour’, the core module for the MA in Catholic Theology by Distance Learning. This is a fully online module to be completed part-time over 12 months.

Catholic Theology: A Preliminary Tour explores the nature of theology in the Catholic tradition, providing a first step into, and a grounding for, postgraduate theological study. It is designed to enable people with first degrees in a range of disciplines to test their interest in theology, while also extending and deepening the engagement with key elements in the Catholic tradition for those who may have studied theology before.

The module begins by exploring a variety of answers to the question “What is theology?”, including the student’s own. It then follows a broadly historical path, touching on the doctrine of the Trinity, key issues in Christology, scholasticism and debates around the theme of nature and grace, the Reformation and ecumenism, the Enlightenment and its relevance to Catholic theology, Vatican II, its origins and its reception. The module concludes with an exploration of a contemporary area of debate and discussion: students can choose to focus on “Theology and Prayer”, “Theology and Evil” or “Universal salvation”. Throughout students are enabled to explore and analyse a range of theological styles, from patristic and scholastic to recent liberation and African theologies, and to examine issues about the nature of theological method and the relevance of the study of theology to their own life and commitments.

Course Structure

This is a stand-alone module from the MA in Catholic Theology by Distance Learning, that can be completed on its own or used as a steppingstone into the Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, or MA in Catholic Theology by Distance Learning especially by those whose former academic study was in an area other than Theology or a closely related academic discipline. 


The module is fully online and asynchronous. In each unit students will engage with primary texts, supported by written and video materials, interacting with one another through discussion boards. There will also be at least three optional online seminars, two individual tutorials, and a chance to engage with the lecturer at other times through online office hours.The expected total time spent by students on the module is 300 hours, including all work in preparation of essays. While students are encouraged to work through the units together as a cohort as far as possible, the module is designed with an understanding that students will need to work in different patterns, and there is a strong element of flexibility built into the module design.


Students write, and receive feedback on formative essays after the 3rd and 7th unit. The module is assessed by two summative essays submitted at the end: one provides the opportunity for students to deepen their understanding and analysis of key texts and debates; the second is a reflective and integrative essay, asking students to explore the relationship of the learning on the module to their own context, practice and experience. 

Entry requirements

  • Degree in a humanities BA (or its international equivalent).
  • Students with at least a 2.1 in a non-humanities first degree, who have the ability to engage in critical and analytical reflection on texts and ideas and to write academic essays are also very welcome to apply, and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £2,500 per year
EU students £5,000 per year
Island students £2,500 per year
International students £5,000 per year

Fees shown are for one year. Total fee will depend on the length of your programme. All fees are subject to annual increases. For more information please visit the Tuition Fees page

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Theology and Religion

Durham graduates are in demand across many sectors. The world-class study facilities, combined with a research-led approach to learning and the Department’s international outlook mean our postgraduate taught courses and research degrees provide the fundamental skills and personal qualities needed to succeed in the workplace.

Our Theology and Religion graduates are equipped to follow a wide range of careers, including law, politics and government, marketing, business and finance, industry, charity work, the media, journalism and the clergy. Many progress into careers with religious institutions across the world, while others work in schools, colleges and universities. Our taught MAs also offer a pathway into research and many graduates take the step into higher-level studies.

Previous employers have included Linklaters, Kirkland and Ellis, Coltraco Ultrasonics, the Home Office, Durham Police and Jaguar Land Rover.

Department information

Theology and Religion

Durham University’s Department of Theology and Religion is a supportive and vibrant international teaching and research community where ‘belief’ and ‘beliefs’ are studied in detail, whether those beliefs are atheistic, humanistic or religious.

We are a recognised global leader in the field of theology and religion. Delivered by researchers at the forefront of their disciplines, our range of highly regarded postgraduate degrees enables students to pursue their interests in the fields of theology, philosophy, religious studies, biblical studies, and ethics, through the exploration of diverse and contemporary issues such as the migrant crisis, homelessness and Catholic identity.

In the Department we have an intellectual community of more than 30 academic staff and 150 postgraduate students and researchers who join us from across the world, giving our courses a highly international focus. The local, national and international contexts in which we work and study help to build a more joined up picture of the complex world in which we live.

The Department is home to a range of research centres and projects, including the Centre for Anglican Studies, the Centre for Catholic Studies, the Centre for Death and Life Studies, and the Project for Spirituality, Theology and Health. These all help to foster a vibrant research culture, of which our postgraduates are an important part.

Our postgraduate provision is designed to develop the academic and personal qualities that are valued in the workplace and in higher-level academic research. This includes a professional development and training programme with opportunities to work as a teaching or research assistant.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 10 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 4th in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2024 
  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • 6th in The Complete University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the Theology & Religion Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 4th in the UK for Research Power (REF 2021)
  • 91% research graded world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2021)


We are a leading Department in the field of Theology and Religion, uniquely situated within a World Heritage Site next to Durham Cathedral and within easy walking distance of the Students’ Union, colleges and Durham Castle. Our home, Abbey House, is an inspiring place to study and research the field of theology and religion.

We hold extensive library resources. As well as the University’s well-equipped central library which includes wide-ranging collections of rare books and manuscripts of particular interest to theology and religion students, we also hold the largest collection of German language theological materials in Britain. Next door, Durham Cathedral is home to Sharp Library, which focuses on modern and pastoral theology, while a number of college libraries also hold theological collections.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
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