Clare College Cambridge

Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion

Link to University Subject Page


FrKing James Bibleom the first year, students are offered a broad choice of papers. Four or five papers are taken in each year. Over the three years it is possible increasingly to specialise in Comparative Religion, Philosophy, Biblical Literature, Church History, Doctrine, or a blend of these areas. For one year all students must study Hebrew, Greek or Arabic to give them access to some of the world’s sacred literature in the original language. In the final year it is possible to offer a dissertation on a subject of the student’s choice in place of one of the papers.

Full details of the course can be found on the Divinity School's website:

Studying Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion at Clare

Students apply to read Theology at Clare for various reasons. What they have in common is an interest in the religious dimension of human life, and the desire to study it in greater depth. Some have a religious faith they want to test and deepen, but this is by no means universal or necessary amongst Theology students. The Tripos is called ‘Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion’ because it is intended to appeal to those interested in Jewish, Islamic or Christian Theology, as well as those who are interested in comparative religion or the philosophy of religion. There is also a possibility to study in cross-disciplinary fields, looking, for example, at the interaction between Theology and Literature, Psychology, and Science. Some students want to use a theological degree as a basis for teaching or ministry. Others have no particular career in mind, but are looking for an intellectually demanding course which will address issues they consider to be of fundamental importance.

It is the responsibility of the Director of Studies in Theology to arrange supervision for any paper in the Tripos that a student chooses. He supervises Clare students where he can, if students want to take papers in his area. The Cambridge system allows students to change subjects at the end of the academic year. Some Clare theologians have done a year or two of another subject, which may give them particular insights in areas like the borderland between Theology and Philosophy or Natural Science. Recent Clare Theology graduates have gone into publishing, teaching, accountancy, full-time work with refugees, and the world of professional music.

A theology supervision

Admissions Requirements

It is not necessary to have done Religious Studies at school to apply for Theology. You will need the ability to write essays on the basis of wide and critical reading, willingness to study a language that will probably be new to you, intellectual curiosity, and good results at A-level, or some equivalent qualification. A typical offer would be A*AA at A-level or 7,7,6 (40+ overall) in the IB or the equivalent in other educational systems.

Written Assessment

All applicants are required to take the university-wide at-interview written assessment for Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion. Further information about this is available here.


Applicants who are selected for interview will be interviewed in the second or third week of December. Each applicant will normally have two interviews. Applicants will also be asked to send two pieces of written work that show their ability to write essays. Essays written for A-level (or equivalent) courses are suitable. Applicants who are not doing essay-based A-level subjects, should consult us about this. For students who have not studied Theology or Religious Studies at school, English or History essays would be ideal alternatives. 

Fellows in Theology

Rev'd Dr Mark Smith, Dean of Clare and Director of Studies. His Research Studies are in the field of ecclesiastical history, where he works on the role of creeds and councils in the life of the early chiurch.  He lectures in the Faculty of Divinty -

Professor Douglas Hedley Professor of the Philosophy of Religion. His research interests are Neoplatonism, Idealism and Philosophy of Religion.

Reading Lists

Click here for a list of recommended books.

See Student Profile: Hannah Fytche