Theology and Religious Studies

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Being of a religious persuasion is not a prerequisite for these courses. Theology and Religious Studies attracts just as many non-believers as devotees. Student learn about the theory, contexts and debates concerning the different religions. They also look at the effects religious belief has on the world. As a result, this is an enthralling and extremely valid topic.

Theology courses aren’t necessarily linked to any particular faith or creed. Some focus on Christian thinking, while others examine the differences and commonalities of all religions. Studying this at third level is often undertaken in an effort to expand knowledge rather than as a career move. However the research skills honed and developed throughout the course are extremely useful in a variety of careers.

Education

Students interested in theology and religious studies have a number of options. Degree courses include Theology, Biblical and Theological Studies and Jewish Studies. There are also as courses that combine Theology or Religious Studies with subjects including Education, Philosophy, Psychology, English Literature, Irish Studies, Arts, Music, Pastoral Care, Cultural Studies, History and Archaeology.

Typical topics in the theology or religious section of your degree might include Biblical Studies, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Atheism, Ecumenism, World Religions and Ethics, while specialisations in further years can include courses such as Advanced Hebrew, Celtic Christianity, The Literary Legacy of Paul of Tarsus, Church, State, Morality & Law in Ireland, and The Reformation in Europe & Ireland.

Students with an interest in theology or religious studies might also consider a course in History, Cultural Studies, Philosophy, Sociology or Social Studies.

Options after Qualification

There is no set path for theology or religious studies graduates. Some people move into socially inclined careers, such as community development, social work or counselling. However, the critical and communication skills developed during a course can be useful in areas as diverse as publishing, banking, archaeology and law.

A high proportion of theology graduates go on to become teachers of religion at secondary school level. Some religious studies courses qualify students to teach religion. Graduates of other courses take a yearlong Higher Diploma in Education to gain the necessary teaching skills.

Theology is a relatively academic subject, and students often go on to study at postgraduate level, conducting research into a broad range of subjects and topics.

The Work

As there is such a wide range of career options for theology graduates, there is no end to the kinds of tasks and duties a person could perform on a day-to-day basis.

Personal Qualities & Potential Work Environment

You will need an interest in religious issues, history and culture. In addition, you should have an inquiring and analytical mind will also aid in the study, and a love of discussing and writing about theoretical issues would be another useful attribute. It is difficult to predict the work environment for graduates in this area, although as it is an academic subject, it is fair to say that people are more likely to end up in a library, classroom or office environment.

Jargon

Existentialism: This is a philosophical viewpoint that emphasizes human freedom and abilities.

Ethics: The branch of philosophy that attempts to determine what is right and what is wrong.

Humanism: A philosophy that rejects religious beliefs and centres on humans and their values and capacities.

Further Resources

Department of Religions & Theology, Trinity College Dublin


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