Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion (TRPR)
Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion (TRPR) is one of the most wide-ranging of the subjects that can be studied at Cambridge. Four or five papers are taken in each year in subjects as diverse as philosophy, doctrine, biblical literature, scriptural languages, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and comparative religion. After a first year with a compulsory language paper and biblical paper, students can specialize in one area or create a blend to reflect their own interests. One of the particular strengths of the Cambridge Divinity Faculty are its interdisciplinary papers: Christians and Muslims before and after Muhammed, Self and Salvation in Indian and Western Thought, Theology and Science, Christianity and Society in Africa and its Diaspora.
Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion is taught ‘from scratch’ and there is no requirement that candidates have studied the subject at A-level. Interest in the subject is the only factor of importance and candidates are not required to adopt any confessional position. The Divinity Faculty requires one year’s study of a scriptural language (Greek, Hebrew, Arabic or Sanskrit) during the course. For some students an interest is sparked which can then be developed over the course of the degree. Some linguistic ability is regarded as a favourable indication (a good GCSE grade in a language might be taken as evidence).
Students study theology for a variety of reasons. Some students have a religious faith and want to deepen their understanding of their own religious tradition better, whilst others have no religious commitment but want to understand the beliefs of others. What they have in common is an interest in human religiosity and an interest in learning how this has been perceived and understood by both adherents and critics
There is no one career destination for TRPR graduates either. Whilst some students do pursue a career in teaching or ministry, the majority go into careers that are not directly related to religion. Because Theology graduates have a mixture of highly desirable skills – close reading, empathy, understanding of human diversity, ability to communicate clearly about complex and controversial issues – there are many careers that theology graduates from Cambridge have gone it, including the civil service, the legal profession, publishing, accountancy, and working in the charity and social sectors.
St John’s College normally admits a small number of undergraduates (usually two or three) to study Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion each year. The subject also regularly attracts undergraduates after their first or second years. In addition, the College also has a number of postgraduates, an active Theological society and a well-stocked section in its Library. The Faculty is small and friendly and located in a well-designed and much-admired contemporary building on the large arts and humanities complex on the Sidgwick site.
UCAS Code: V600
No specific subject requirements.
Application / interview procedure
Those who are invited to attend for interview will have two interviews at St John's. Your first interview will be with the Tutor for the subject, and the second with the Director of Studies for Theology. There is usually a further interview at another College to ensure that, if your application is pooled, there is the best possible chance of being taken by another College.
The aim of these interviews, which last up to 30 minutes each, is to find out from you at first hand about your motivation and aptitude for the course you have chosen. We conduct our interviews in a friendly and informal manner, and you should not feel daunted by the prospect of them. Although the Director of Studies will naturally want to discuss subject-related questions with you, no special preparation is necessary, or indeed desirable. You should expect to be asked questions relevant to the topics you have covered in your A-level modules – or equivalent, but in addition there will be questions and discussion exploring a wide range of issues such as the arguments for the existence of God, the relationship
between religion and science, or the nature of fundamentalism. There is no attempt to catch candidates out, nor is the interview a test of memory or of detailed factual knowledge, it is more concerned with exploring your ability to think through a particular issue, explore all dimensions, and produce a coherent and well-founded answer.
In order that we can see for ourselves what sort of work you have been doing on your present course and take this into account in our overall assessment of your application, we ask you to send us two pieces of written work that you have done recently. These may be items written either under controlled conditions or in your own time, but you should send us the work you most enjoyed writing, the material which in your view shows your skills and potential to best advantage. If there is time within the 30 minutes allowed for each interview, there may be questions relating to the written work you have submitted.
Applicants for Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion will sit an admissions assessment at interview, more information is available here.
Further details about the Tripos can be found on the Faculty website and details of the Faculty's Open Day can be obtained from The Divinity School, West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9BS, tel: (01223) 763002 or by email.