BA Religion and Oriental Studies

The course in Religion and Oriental Studies enables you to learn in depth about one of the world’s great religious traditions, from a choice including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.

To engage with all the different aspects of the course, you have to be something of a historian and a philosopher, a textual and literary critic, and a linguist. These disciplines together not only enable students to appreciate the qualities of religions that can be radically different from those in western societies, but also equip graduates to embark on a wide range of careers.

This degree offers the opportunity to study the major world religions and their primary languages. Students can also explore the relationship between religions and science, and the place of religious ethics in public life. Religion and Oriental Studies provides an understanding of the intellectual underpinning of religious traditions, and of the social and cultural contexts for religious belief and practice. 

You can find more helpful information about this course on Oxford University's Undergraduate Admissions pages.


The following is an outline of the course structure. Further detail is available on Weblearn.



Students take eight papers over two years: three papers must be in Theology and three in Oriental Studies; the other two may be chosen in either Theology or Oriental Studies. All students must submit either a thesis (Theology and Religion paper 3000) or a dissertation in Oriental Studies as one of their eight papers







All students must study:


1301 Religion and Religions



Oriental Studies


Students must choose one from the following list:








Qur’anic Arabic







Candidates will be precluded from offering the following combinations:

Islam in the Classical Period with Hadith

Islam in the Classical Period with Sufism

Islam in the Classical Period with Topics in Islamic Law

The Formation of Rabbinic Judaism: Judaism with The Formation of Rabbinic Judaism

Modern Judaism with Modern Judaism

Foundations of Buddhism with Foundations of Buddhism 

Buddhism in Space and Time with Buddhism in Space and Time

Varieties of Judaism 100 BCE – 100 CE with Second Temple Judaism



* Indicates that the paper will be available every year. Other papers may not be offered or may not run if they do not recruit enough students.


Students must choose two papers from the lists below.




* Indicates that the paper will be available every year. Other papers may not be offered or may not run if they do not recruit enough students.


Students must choose one and may choose up to three papers from the lists below.

One of the taught papers in Theology may be replaced by paper 3000, the prescribed thesis.




2101* The Narrative World of the Hebrew Bible
2102* The Poetic World of the Hebrew Bible

2103* The Gospels

2201 History of Doctrine

2202 Ethics I: Christian Moral Reasoning
2203 Themes in 19th-century Theology & Religion

2204* Key Themes in Systematic Theology

2301* History & Theology of the Early Church (64-337AD)

2302 Medieval Religions

2304 Formations of Rabbinic Judaism

2305 Islam in the Classical Period

2306 Foundations of Buddhism

2307 Hinduism: Sources and Formations

2401 Modern Judaism

2402 Islam in Contemporary Society

2403 Buddhism in Space and Time

2404 Modern Hinduism

2405 Science and Religion



3101* Hebrew of the Hebrew Bible

3102* Paul and the Pauline Tradition

3103 Biblical Interpretation: Perspectives from Social Sciences

3104 Gender and Power in Biblical Texts

3105 Worship and Liturgy in the Hebrew Bible

3106 Prophecy and Revelation in the Hebrew Bible & Beyond

3107 Law, Teaching, and Wisdom in Biblical Tradition

3108 Early Interpretation in the H.B. & Ancient Judaism

3109 New Testament Theology

3110 Study of a New Testament Book

3111 The Afterlife of the New Testament

3112 The Old Testament in Early Christianity

3201 Contemporary Theology and Culture

3203 Analytic Philosophy and Christian Theology

3204 Ethics II: Religious Ethics

3208-3220 Further Studies in a Special Theologian (*a selection will be available each year)

3221 Liberation Theology and its Legacy

3222 Postliberal Theology


3223 Radical Orthodoxy

3224 Modern Debates concerning the Trinity

3225 Modern Debates concerning Christology

3301* From Nicaea to Chalcedon

3302 Saints and Sanctity in the Age of Bede

3303 Faith, Reason, and Religion from the Enlightenment to the Romantic Age

3304 Eastern Christianities from Constantinople to Baghdad

3305 Further Studies in Judaism

3306 Further Studies in Islam

3307 Further Studies in Buddhism

3308 Further Studies in Hinduism

3309 Studies in the Abrahamic Religions

3310 Varieties of Judaism 100BCE – 100CE
3401 The Nature of Religion

3402 Psychology of Religion

3403 Sociology of Religion

3404 Further Studies in Science and Religion

3405 Mysticism

3406 Feminist Approaches to Theology and Religion

Oriental Studies

Over years two and three students must take three papers in Oriental Studies, and may take up to five, which must all be drawn from one of the fields listed below. Individual papers are not necessarily available every year. Advanced language options are for students who have studied the same language for the Preliminary examination. Other papers may have the prerequisite of appropriate language competence. One of the taught papers in Oriental Studies may be replaced by the prescribed dissertation.


1. Buddhism

All students must study:


B1A Either Pali or Sanskrit or Tibetan

B1B Either Advanced Pali or Advanced Sanskrit or Advanced Tibetan Language and Texts


Students must choose one and may choose up to three from the following:


B2 Set Texts in a Buddhist Canonical Language: Pali or Sanskrit or Tibetan

B3 Foundations of Buddhism

B4 Buddhism in Space and Time

B5 Further Buddhist Texts: Pali or Sanskrit or Tibetan

3. Hinduism

All students must study:


H1A Either Sanskrit Language and Texts I

H1B Or Advanced Sanskrit Language and Texts I

H2A Either Sanskrit Language and Texts II H2B Or Advanced Sanskrit Language and Texts II

H3 Brahminism


Students may choose up to two from the following:


H4 Texts on the Nature of Dharma

H5 Vedic Religion and Brahmanism

H6 Shaiva Doctrine and Practice

4. Islam

All students must study:


IS1Translation from Classical Arabic

IS2 Islamic Texts


Students must choose one and may choose up to three from the following:


IS3 Hadith

IS4 Sufism

IS5 Qur’an

IS6 Topics in Islamic Law

IS7 Theology & Philosophy in the Islamic World

IS8 Any other paper, relevant to Islam, in the Honour School of Oriental Studies approved by the Interfaculty Committee.


5. Judaism

All students must study:


J1A Either Hebrew Language and Texts

J1B Or Advanced Hebrew Language and Texts


Students must choose one and may choose up to three from the following:


J2 Second Temple Judaism

J3 [2403] Formation of Rabbinic Judaism

J4 History of Jewish-Christian Relations

J5 History of Jewish-Muslim Relations

J6 History of Jewish Bible Interpretation


Preliminary Examination:  Assessment will consist of either3 x three-hour written examinations plus an oral/aural examination or 4 x three-hour written examinations in eighth week of Trinity term.

Final Honour School Examination:  All Oriental Studies papers except the dissertation will be assessed by three-hour written examinations. Theology papers will be assessed by three-hour written examinations, or a thesis, or assessed essays, or a combination of both, depending on the requirements of individual papers.

Undergraduate Open Days

We participate in the annual Oxford University Open Days in late June or early July, and in September.  We publish information about our Open Day programme on our website about a month in advance.

Most colleges and Halls that offer degrees in the Faculty of Theology and Religion also participate in the main University Open Days. When visiting Oxford, please take the time to look around at least one college, in addition to attending the Faculty’s own events. Some colleges hold their own College Open Days at other times of year. These colleges offer our courses.

UNIQ Summer Schools

The Faculty is a committed partner of the UNIQ programme of free summer schools at the University of Oxford. If you are currently in Year 12, at a UK State-maintained school, and want to experience what it’s like studying in the Faculty of Theology and Religion, then you should consider applying for a UNIQ course next summer.

Your application

Your application will be assessed against clear criteria. Tutors are primarily interested in previous academic achievements as demonstrated, for example, by GCSE or other examination results, and in the quality of submitted written work, but will also take other information on your UCAS application into account (such as your personal statement and reference). A subject involving essay-writing to A-level, Advanced Higher or Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent can be helpful to students in completing this course, although this is not required for admission.

In interviews tutors will look for interest in the proposed fields of study, your ability to think clearly, form sound arguments and to listen and respond to counterarguments; your openness to learning; evidence of your enthusiasm and motivation for the course, and your oral communication skills. For the BA in Religion and Oriental Studies, admissions tutors will also be keen to find out about your linguistic aptitude and your commitment to a wide-ranging course. Please check the University website for more information on interviews, and how best to prepare.


Stage 1: UCAS forms due by 15th October

Stage 2: You will need to submit one piece of written work. Criteria vary, so check requirements on an annual basis

Stage 3: Test. You must take the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test at your own school or college before you come you are interviewed.

Stage 4: Interviews. The majority of applicants are interviewed. 

Good luck with your application!

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