Explore postgraduate research


For those called to serve the kingdom through scholarship at the highest levels, Trinity College offers two postgraduate research degrees: the Master of Theology (MTh) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The expertise of the faculty, the confessional nature of the college, and our flourishing community of more than 50 postgraduate researchers make Trinity an excellent context in which to take one’s first steps into the academy.

Students may pursue a research degree full-time, part-time, in residence at Bristol, or by distance. Trinity’s research degrees are fully validated by the University of Aberdeen, an ancient Scottish university with a globally recognised reputation for excellence in the study of Christian theology.

Those interested in studying for a higher degree through Trinity are strongly encouraged to begin by browsing through this list of our current faculty and their specialised research areas. Once a potential supervisor is identified, he or she may be contacted directly to begin a discussion regarding a possible supervisory relationship. Prospective students may also contact the Director of Postgraduate Research for guidance on potential supervisors or apply directly, should they choose to do so.

Four Facts About Our Postgrad Programme That Might Surprise You >

Master of Theology (MTh)

The MTh degree involves writing a 40,000 word thesis and does not include mandatory course attendance. The nature of the thesis is defined by the student’s research proposal and is written under the supervision of a relevant faculty member.

Normally, the minimum entrance requirement for admission as a student for the research master’s is a degree with Second Class Honours (Upper Division) in an appropriate field, or its equivalent (e.g., 3.5/4.0 in a GPA system). Students are also expected to have facility in research languages requisite for the project proposed.

The MTh programme can be finished in 12 months of full-time study, or 24 months of part-time study, with completed theses assessed by viva voce examination. Distance-based students are expected to come to campus at least once a year for our annual postgraduate conference (normally held at the end of June), or more frequently at the discretion of their supervisor. Non-UK/EU students who wish to study residentially must secure a Tier 4 student visa.

Read about recent postgraduate research conferences at Trinity: 2015 (with Prof John Webster), 2016 (with Prof Walter Moberly).

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

To earn the PhD, students must write a 100,000 word thesis on a topic defined by their research proposal under the supervision of a relevant faculty member. PhD students will read on their own topic and work closely with their supervisors to define the research and compose the thesis.

Normally, the minimum entrance requirement for admission to the PhD is a degree with Second Class Honours (Upper Division) in an appropriate field, or equivalent (e.g., 3.5/4.0 in a GPA system). It is preferable that you hold a master’s degree in the chosen area of study as well. Students are also expected to have facility in research languages requisite for the project proposed.

The PhD programme can be finished in 36 months of full-time study or 72 months of part-time study, with completed theses assessed by viva voce examination. Accepted students will be admitted initially to the MTh programme, to upgrade by viva to the PhD programme after either one year (for full-time students) or two years (for part-time students) of study. Distance-based students are expected to come to campus at least once a year for our annual postgraduate research conference (normally held at the end of June), or more frequently at the discretion of their supervisor. Non-UK/EU students who wish to study residentially must secure a Tier 4 student visa.

Read about recent postgraduate research conferences at Trinity: 2015 (with Prof John Webster), 2016 (with Prof Walter Moberly).

Apply for a Postgraduate Research Programme

Applications for research degrees are considered three times per year by our Research Applications Committee. Deadlines for applications are 1 October, 15 January, and 1 May, with the committee typically meeting within one week of the deadline.

Download a postgraduate research programme application form here.

Along with the application form, all applicants are to submit the following supporting documents:

  • Research proposal
  • A writing sample that demonstrates skills commensurate with the nature of the proposed thesis (no longer than 5000 words)
  • Official academic transcripts
  • PDF copies of certificates of completed studies
  • Personal statement
  • If you hope to pursue a research programme as part of your ordination process, please also complete this application form for ordination training.

Applicants whose first language is not English must also demonstrate their English language ability by submitting scores from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The minimum required overall score for the IELTS (academic) exam is 7.0.

You are also required to furnish us with two academic references from people who can speak knowledgeably of your suitability for the course of your choice. Letters of reference can either be sent directly to the college by your referees or included with your application in sealed envelopes. References should be sent to the attention of the Postgraduate Administrator (pg-admin@trinity-bris.ac.uk) at Trinity College.

The personal statement should be no longer than 1000 words and should contain the following: details of your aptitude for study; reasons why you have chosen the programme; details of any practical experience relevant to the programme; relevant responsibilities; periods of study abroad; relevant outside interests; reasons for wishing to study at Trinity College and, where appropriate, reasons for wishing to study in the UK.

If you intend to study on a part-time basis whilst also being employed, we must also receive a letter from your employer indicating their awareness and support of your studies. This may be either submitted directly to the college by your employer or included with your application materials. If you are uncomfortable requesting such a letter from your employer, please contact the Postgraduate Administrator (pg-admin@trinity-bris.ac.uk) to explain your situation. It is expected that full-time students will not be employed during their studies.

Latest blog posts

Meet our new Student Exec 2018-19

Meet this year’s Student Exec! These students will be working to advocate for, build, and continually improve both the student experience and community life at college. To learn more about each of their roles at college, just click here.

View our new prospectus

Many thanks to all the students and faculty members who helped in the creation of our new prospectus. We hope you will share it with those around you, particularly anyone considering theological education. For those who would like to receive print copies, please email m.stratis@trinitycollegebristol.ac.uk.  

New book honours John Nolland

Last spring, Bloomsbury T&T Clark published a volume for its Library of New Testament Studies titled The Earliest Perceptions of Jesus in Context in honour of Trinity Tutor in New Testament Rev Prof John Nolland’s contribution to the field of New Testament studies. This collection of essays from top New Testament scholars was edited by […]

Why is peacemaking so hard?

During Lent this spring, our faculty preached through the Beatitudes, which also form the basis for Trinity’s Community Values. Below is an adapted version of Tutor in Pastoral and Ministerial Studies Rev Dr Helen Collins‘s sermon on ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’. You can listen to the audio […]