The PhD is the highest degree qualification offered by the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University and is granted on the basis of a thesis of extensive and original research.


Is it for you?
Study toward a PhD is for the person who wants to do in-depth research and has a project in mind. PhD students need to be self-motivated and possess both good time management skills and a keen interest in a specific area of Theology. The award is particularly suitable to clergy or laity who are potential theological educators.


Time commitment
The PhD is normally a three-year course of full-time study, culminating in a dissertation of no more than 80,000 words, based on original research on a focused topic. It is also possible to pursue the degree part-time over five years.

You can expect three or four meetings with your Supervisor in the first year (one or two for part-time students). Meetings tend to be less frequent once research is under way and increases as the thesis nears completion.

University of Cambridge PhD students will be expected to attend relevant seminars in the Faculty of Divinity. You are invited to attend other seminars in the Divinity Faculty and other faculties that you may find useful or interesting.


What is the assessment for receiving the PhD?
To be registered for the PhD you will need to pass an examination towards the end of your first year (second year for part-time students). For this examination you will have to submit a summary of your research project with a provisional outline, timetable and bibliography and a sample of written-up research (10,000 words).

The PhD is assessed by an oral examination (viva voce) of your 80,000 word thesis.


Which university is right for me?
The requirements and assessment of the PhD for both the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University are similar.  So, how do you decide which university is right for you?

You might choose the University of Cambridge:

  • If you have the requisite qualifications (see below) to make a good application for a very selective programme.
  • If you have high marks in intermediate or advanced levels of relevant languages; e.g. Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, Latin, Arabic, or Sanskrit.
  • If you are preparing your application and dissertation proposal six to nine months ahead of the *application deadline (longer for international students).
  • If you live close enough to be able to be fully involved in Faculty academic and social activities.
  • If your career interests include seeking a university appointment or being a theological educator.
  • If your research is in areas that fall within the specialities of the Faculty teaching officers. The general areas are:
    • Ancient, Medieval and Modern Judaism
    • Patristics
    • History of Christianity (Reformation and late Patristic periods)
    • Christian Systematic Theology
    • Biblical Studies (advanced knowledge of Hebrew or Greek required)
    • Philosophy of Religion and Ethics
    • Religion and Natural Sciences
    • Religion and Social Sciences
    • Study of World Religions (with special reference to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism)
    • Study of World Christianities (with special reference to African Christianities)

You may find it helpful to read the Faculty of Divinity webpages to find out the specific research and supervision interests of the Faculty Teaching Officers.

*Although the official deadline for PhD applications is in May of each year, you must apply before the end of previous November for funding consideration.  Most PhD places are normally allocated before February.

You might choose Anglia Ruskin University:

  • If you have the requisite qualifications.
  • If you are preparing you application and dissertation proposal at least 4 months ahead of the application deadline.
  • If, as a part-time student, you cannot commit much time to being in Cambridge.
  • If the purpose of further study is to enhance your ministry or preparation as a theological educator.
  • If you are doing doctoral work primarily to benefit the Church (or related organisations) or to enhance your own development.
  • If your area of research falls within the broad range of specialities of the Cambridge Theological Federation associated staff. These include:
    • Old Testament
    • New Testament
    • Systematic Theology
    • Christian Doctrine
    • Biblical Theology
    • Patristics
    • Philosophical Theology
    • Reformed Studies (theology or history)
    • Anglican Studies (theology or history)
    • Methodist Studies (theology or history)
    • Church History
    • Public Theology
    • Christian Ethics
    • World Christianities
    • Interfaith studies
    • Religion and Migration
    • Theology and Arts
    • Study of Christian Mission
    • Pastoral Theology
    • Psychology and Religion


What qualifications do I need to apply?

For the University of Cambridge:

  • A Master’s degree with marks of at least 67 per cent; where appropriate a GPA of at least 3.8.
  • Applicants who are currently taking the Faculty of Divinity’s MPhil degree must achieve an overall average of at least 71 per cent and at least 71 per cent for their thesis.
  • Either English as a first language or demonstrating a proficiency of IELTS 7.5

There is further detailed information about the PhD, including costs, on the University of Cambridge website and on the Faculty of Divinity website.

For Anglia Ruskin University:

  • A first or upper second-class honours degree, or equivalent, to be admitted to an MPhil with progression to a PhD.
  • A Masters degree, or equivalent, that includes training in research, to be admitted directly to PhD study.
  • Either English as a first language or an IELTS score of 6.5 or above.


How to apply
For advice about whether this course might suit you and how to apply complete our Information and Enquiry form.