• Studies in Contemporary Catholicism

Why study at Roehampton

  • This course is based in our Digby Stuart College, an institution with a rich Catholic heritage.
  • You will get automatic membership of the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing’s activities, with contributions from world-renowned academics, community organisers and civic leaders.
  • You will analyse Catholicism’s relation to other religious traditions and explore its role in contemporary global society.
  • Roehampton is ranked best modern university in London (Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015) and the most research-intensive modern university in the UK (Research Excellence Framework 2014).

Course summary

This Masters course gives students the opportunity to focus on Roman Catholicism since the Second Vatican Council. You will explore doctrinal, theological and ethical issues, including the diversity of global Catholicism today, the significance of Catholic social teaching, and Catholic influences and expressions in material culture (art, literature, music). You will be based in Digby Stuart College, an institution with a rich Catholic heritage.

On this engaging course, you will explore a range of questions that arise in the context of Catholicism in the contemporary world. You will engage with key issues such as the challenges faced by the Catholic Church in an era of globalisation, secularisation and religious resurgence, and examine internal and external debates concerning the role of the Church and its values and practices.

You will graduate from the course equipped with an in-depth and balanced understanding of modern Catholicism, both of its role in modern society, and of the diverse expressions within the religion. You will be able to analyse and evaluate debates and differences within the church using a rigorous scholarly approach to key aspects such as doctrinal beliefs, theological arguments, sacramental practices and ethical debates.

As well as looking at internal questions of hierarchy and authority, gender and sexuality, ethical issues of life and death, and social justice and human rights, you will investigate the ways in which Catholicism interacts with, responds to and is influenced by other religions, world views, cultures and values.

You will develop your ability to express complex ideas in written and oral form, and have experience of working with church documents and theological arguments.

The Theology and Religious Studies subject area at the University of Roehampton has a flourishing postgraduate culture with good MPhil/PhD recruitment and regular research seminars, public lectures and study days. The Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing provides a focus for many postgraduate activities, and its associates form an interdisciplinary network of academic staff, postgraduate students and interested members of the public from within and beyond the University.

Course content

The course will give you an advanced and deep knowledge and understanding of the contemporary Catholic church. A core module will examine a variety of approaches to understanding and contextualising the Catholic church in a postmodern world. You will look at power, authority, ideology and ministry; liberal, conservative and postmodern conceptions of today’s Church; and the ways in which questions of gender and the role of women are challenging earlier traditions.

Other modules we currently offer include modern theological approaches to the relationship between Christianity and social justice, and the interrelation of gender, nature and incarnation in Christian doctrine. You will also be able to study the reception of the Biblical text over the centuries, and the sometimes competing and conflicting uses, conclusions, methodologies, approaches, and ideologies applied to it.

In order to understand Catholicism in the modern world, you can take modules looking at other contemporary topics such as Islam and women, issues in Hinduism, or religious and secular understandings of Human rights, and how all of these relate to and inform the trajectory of modern Catholic thought.

You will also undertake a dissertation focusing on a particular topic of your choice, and applying critical rigour, coherent argument and analysis, sound research methods, and originality of thought.

In addition to standard teaching sessions, you will attend seminars and workshops with a specific focus on methods and texts relevant to this particular MA, and undertake guided research enabling you to acquire a specialised understanding of contemporary Catholicism.

Career options

Work in faith-based organisations, community organisations, international aid or the charity sector; prepares you for work in the spaces of religion, art, politics, philosophy and contemporary culture; to pursue a PhD or conduct specific research.




Number of credits

MA: 180; PGDip: 120 (at Level M)

Postgraduate entry requirements




1 year (full-time); 2 years (part-time).

Programme start


Tuition fees

£5,800 (2016; full-time UK/EU)
£323 per ten credits (2016; part-time UK/EU)

£13,000 (2016; full-time International)
£725 per ten credits (2016; part-time International)

For further fee information see our UK/EU or International finance pages

Related courses

MA PGDip Christian Ministry »

Theology and Religious Studies MA »

Further information

Dr Richard Burgess
Richard.Burgess@roehampton.ac.uk »
+44 (0)20 8392 4485

+44 (0)20 8392 3232

Postgraduate open evening

Wednesday 16 November 2016

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