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University of Otago
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Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Religious Studies

This course is available


Level of Study

Master's Degree


1 year

Next start date

Expected Jul 2023


University of Otago


The Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA (Thesis))

The MA by thesis

The thesis option normally requires at least one year of full-time study and entails completion of a thesis. The thesis is a major piece of supervised research of up to 40,000 words on a topic of current interest.

The primary aim of the MA by thesis programme is to develop in a candidate skills needed to identify a significant topic, design and implement an extended piece of research, and present the findings in a form acceptable to an expert readership.

Why study Religion?

Religion is as old as humanity itself. Despite the rise of science and modern technology, the majority of people in the world today are religious, and current demographic trends reveal that – as a whole – the world is becoming more religious. In order to understand humans, human history, and the contemporary world, we need to understand the multifaceted nature of religion and its place in human societies.

Religion offers you the opportunity to become familiar with religious movements, their history and the influence they currently wield. By studying religion, you will learn to enter empathetically into a world of thought that may be very different from your own, without losing the ability to ask critical questions about it.

Career opportunities

Religious Studies graduates can be found in many walks of life, including MP, UN adviser, lecturer, analyst, archivist, development organiser, and even a TV show host.

Our graduates have particular qualities valued by employers in many fields including:

Excellent critical thinking and writing skills

The ability to find information, analyse it in a logical and systematic manner, and communicate it clearly

Wide-ranging knowledge of both human history, culture and contemporary affairs

The ability to enter with empathy into the minds and hearts of others, to understand what motivates and shapes their behaviour.For those who cannot study on-campus, it is possible to take most Religion papers by distance study, regardless of where you live in New Zealand.

Intake: Anytime.

Entry criteria

Admission to the programme shall be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities).

Applicants seeking admission to a programme of study comprising of papers and a thesis (240 points combined) must either

  • be a graduate with an average grade of at least B+ for the appropriate 300-level papers, or
  • have alternative qualifications or experience acceptable to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities).

English language requirements

  • IELTS Academic - Score of 6.5 in the academic module (with no individual band below 6.0). IELTS Online is also accepted.
  • Internet-based TOEFL - Score of 90 with a minimum writing score of 21
  • Paper-based TOEFL - score of 587 (TWE 4.5)
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) & Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) - Minimum of 176
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic - Overall score of 58 with no communicative skills score below 50.
  • LanguageCert - International ESOL: C1 Expert (LRWS) with a high pass overall and no less than a pass in each skill OR C2 Mastery (LRWS) with a pass overall and no less than a pass in each skill
  • NZCEL - NZCEL 5 Academic endorsement
  • University of Otago Language Centre ‘English for Otago’, English for Postgraduate Academic Purposes (EPAP) - Grade C or higher
  • University of Auckland English Language Academy (ELA) pathway programmes - Successful completion of the English Pathway for Postgraduate Studies (EPPS) with a B Grade
  • University of Auckland Foundation Certificate in English for Academic Purposes (FCertEAP) - Successful completion of the certificate with a B Grade
  • English NZ's Accredited Pathway Assessment - English NZ’s Accredited Pathway Assessment Level 3 (with no skill lower than Level 2).

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