A new degree that places religion in a contemporary context alongside culture and society is being launched at the University of Exeter.

The BA (Hons) Religion, Culture and Society will offer an interdisciplinary approach to studying the subject when it commences in 2025, drawing upon a range of subjects including history, politics, sociology and media studies.

From considering how changing demographics and immigration in Britain contribute to people’s views of religion, to how religion is reported upon by different media organisations, the degree highlights the contemporary relevance of the study of faith and religious practice.

“We know from talking to employers that what they truly value in their graduates is the ability to think critically and ask challenging questions,” says Louise Lawrence, Professor of New Testament Interpretation. “They value employees who can interrogate sources and understand what makes for good evidence, and understand how people can come to different conclusions in good faith. These are some of the key skills and principles that this degree has been designed to nurture and develop.”

The new degree introduces three core modules to the Exeter curriculum: What is Religion?; Religion and Material Culture; and Introducing Social-Scientific Approaches to Religion.

What is Religion? will offer students who might be new to the subject some of the foundational skills that will help them to engage with the subject at university-level. Religion and Material Culture will focus on how these two elements are inseparable, and how religion is as much about what people ‘do’ and ‘make’ as ‘think’ or ‘believe’. And Introducing Social-Scientific Approaches to Religion will explore sociological, anthropological and psychological approaches to religion.

Students will also have the chance to study Religion in the Modern World, which looks at the intersections of religion and public life, the state and politics.

“This degree is for people who want to develop an informed understanding of the world around them, who want to be able to critically analyse news from different voices and sources, whether that is Al Jazeera or GB News,” says Susannah Cornwall, Professor of Constructive Theologies. “We think this degree brings something new to the study of religion, broadening its appeal to those who might have a science background or come from history or politics. And by drawing upon areas of the University where we have acknowledged teaching and research strengths – including history, philosophy, ethics, visual and material cultures – we can offer something truly contemporary and relevant to employers.”

Exeter has long been respected for its academic expertise in the fields of Theology and Religion, and was ranked first in the UK for world-leading research in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework. It was also in the top 10 for subject rankings in both The Complete University Guide 2023 and The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023, and top 100 globally in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023.

The BA (Hons) Religion, Culture and Society will open to applications from prospective undergraduates in the new academic year and will commence teaching from September 2025.