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Study Theology at Otago

Explore faith, yourself and the world.

To study Theology is to engage with the deepest questions of life. What can we say about God? Who is Jesus? What does it mean to be human? How should we live in this world? Where do we find meaning and identity? Theology will equip you to think through these questions – and many others like them – in ways that are consistent and coherent.

We offer a nurturing environment in which you can explore answers in light of the biblical writings, the rich history of the Christian faith, the thinking of past and living theologians, and contemporary practice – gaining the skills and knowledge you need to address the questions that really matter.

Apply for the Bachelor of Theology (BTheol) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Bachelor of Theology with Honours (BTheol(Hons)) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Diploma in Theology (DipTheol) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Master of Faith-Based Leadership and Management (MFBLM) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Faith-Based Leadership and Management (PGDipFBLM) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Ministry (PGDipMin) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Theology (PGDipTheol) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Why study Theology?

Christianity has been a major force in the development of western civilization, helping to shape the world in which we live today, and it is increasingly a global presence. So there is enormous value in coming to an informed understanding of the Christian faith, and that is the main task of Theology.

Of course, many students undertake theological study to inquire further into their own faith. They find that it can enrich their understanding of the Gospel and open new horizons, even as it follows ancient paths. There is always more to learn about such essential matters as the nature of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the place of the Bible, the story of Christianity across two millennia, the practice of contemporary ministry and the responsibility to live ethically in a world that is increasingly socially aware.

We assume no particular denominational or theological perspective in this inquiry. The learning process includes a proper methodology and a detailed exploration of the ways in which complex questions have been addressed by others, pointing out what are sometimes provocative possibilities. All this will equip you to formulate Theology and to think these questions through for yourself in ways that are aware of the community of other thinkers – past and present – and alert to the realities of our contemporary society.

Theology is about more than just vocational training. It is about life, meaning, belief and identity at the deepest level. We carry these with us wherever we go, whatever we do. There is, then, no end to the value gained from a few papers or a whole degree in Theology.

Background required

All you need to study Theology is a sense of curiosity about the world and human experience. You do not need to have a faith of your own to find compelling the issues raised by Theology. Students of all or no religious persuasions are welcome.

Career opportunities

Theology graduates go places. Our students regularly find employment in areas such as teaching, social work, journalism and media work, administration, and the public services. Because Theology involves you in intellectual discovery, sound thinking and writing, and creative discovery, you will develop skills that are foundational to any number of careers. While many Theology graduates enter some form of Christian ministry after their studies, this is by no means true of all. You will find Otago Theology graduates in widely varying occupations all over the world!

Theology at Otago

Drawing on a rich heritage of more than sixty years the Theology Programme is well regarded both nationally and internationally. Its courses are taught by committed staff who are accomplished teachers and scholars. The programme offers a vibrant and friendly community known for its good relationship between staff and students. You will enjoy a positive and healthy environment in which to learn.

The discipline of Theology is divided into three main areas:

Biblical Studies (BIBS) is devoted to the study of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, looking at the origins of the biblical writings and the history of their interpretation. Biblical Studies papers cover both the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) and the New Testament. Students can also study the biblical languages, namely classical Hebrew and New Testament Greek, to an advanced level. Some study of these languages is required for those who are accepted for the BTheol(Hons) degree

Christian Thought and History (CHTH) is a subject area which includes both Church History and Systematic Theology. Church History is concerned with the growth and development of the Church from the first century to modern times. It includes the study of major Christian controversies and their effect on the Christian and world communities.

Systematic Theology offers a critical exposition and analysis of Christian thought from both a historical and a philosophical perspective. Some papers in Systematic Theology deal with the history and nature of Christian ethical thought and with current ethical controversies.

Pastoral Studies (PAST) is particularly designed for students entering some form of church ministry. Papers in Pastoral Theology offer a multidisciplinary study of church life, offering students the opportunity to reflect on the practice of Christian ministry.

You will engage with the breadth of these areas at the same time as going deeper in one of them.

How will you study?

It is possible for students to take up to five papers outside their Major in most degrees within the University, so if you are studying a different subject you can still include some interest papers in Theology.

Theology can also be done as either a Bachelor of Theology or a Bachelor of Arts degree. Both of these take three years full-time. A Bachelor of Theology is the normal choice if you are pursuing a vocation in ministry or aiming at further study in Theology. You can have your Bachelor of Theology endorsed in any of the three areas of Biblical Studies, Christian Thought and History, or Pastoral Studies. A Bachelor of Arts Major can be taken in either Biblical Studies or Christian Thought and History.

You can also complete your Bachelor of Theology by distance study. We have an excellent distance programme that connects with students living from one end of the country to the other. Such teaching is based on course books and is delivered by videoconferences and a teaching day, or in a week-long intensive format.

If you already have a degree in another subject and you would like to deepen your understanding of Theology, the subject is part of the University of Otago’s Diploma for Graduates programme, which involves a shorter and more intense course of study in Theology.

We also have a very strong postgraduate programme with high student numbers. See the list of qualifications below for what's on offer.

Qualifications and programme requirements

See the qualification pages for the programme requirements:

Minor subject requirements

Theology as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Arts and Science (BComSc) degree

Papers Points

Five BIBS, CHTH or HEBR papers, at least three of which must be above 100-level, including at least one above 200-level.

90

Note: This minor subject is not available for students enrolled in the Bachelor of Theology (BTheol).

Papers

BIBS papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
BIBS112 2021 Interpreting the Old Testament 18 points First Semester
BIBS121 2021 Interpreting the New Testament 18 points Second Semester
BIBS131 2021 Introductory New Testament Greek Language 1 18 points First Semester
BIBS132 2021 Introductory New Testament Greek Language 2 18 points Second Semester
BIBS211 2021 God, Land and Exile in the Hebrew Prophets 18 points Second Semester
BIBS213 2021 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis 2 18 points Full Year
BIBS215 2021 Special Topic: The Bible in Religious Education 18 points First Semester
BIBS218 2021 Judaism in the Time of Jesus 18 points Not offered in 2021
BIBS221 2021 The Gospels 18 points First Semester
BIBS223 2021 Greek New Testament Exegesis 2 18 points Full Year
BIBS224 2021 Special Topic: The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles 18 points Not offered in 2021
BIBS225 2021 Special Topic: Approaches to Hermeneutics 18 points Not offered in 2021
BIBS226 2021 Jesus in the New Testament 18 points Not offered in 2021
BIBS311 2021 God, Land and Exile in the Hebrew Prophets (Advanced) 18 points Second Semester
BIBS313 2021 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis 3 18 points Full Year
BIBS315 2021 Special Topic: Israels Return from Exile 18 points Not offered in 2021
BIBS317 2021 God, Suffering and Justice 18 points First Semester
BIBS318 2021 Judaism in the Time of Jesus (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2021
BIBS321 2021 The Gospels (Advanced) 18 points First Semester
BIBS322 2021 The New Testament Epistles 18 points Second Semester
BIBS323 2021 Greek New Testament Exegesis 3 18 points Full Year
BIBS324 2021 Special Topic: The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles 18 points Not offered in 2021
BIBS325 2021 Special Topic: Approaches to Hermeneutics 18 points Not offered in 2021
BIBS326 2021 Jesus in the New Testament (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2021
BIBS411 2021 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis (Advanced) 20 points Full Year
BIBS412 2021 Special Topic: Israels Return from Exile (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2021
BIBS413 2021 God, Suffering and Justice (Advanced) 20 points First Semester
BIBS421 2021 Greek New Testament Exegesis (Advanced) 20 points Full Year
BIBS423 2021 Special Topic: The New Testament Epistles 20 points Second Semester
BIBS490 2021 Dissertation 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period

CHTH papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
CHTH102 2021 The History of Christianity 18 points First Semester
CHTH111 2021 Doing Theology 18 points First Semester
CHTH131 2021 God and Ethics in the Modern World 18 points Second Semester
CHTH206 2021 The Reformation 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH212 2021 Spirit, Church and Sacraments 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH213 2021 The Trinity 18 points Second Semester
CHTH217 2021 Special Topic: Māori Religion and Theology 18 points Second Semester
CHTH218 2021 The Person and Work of Christ 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH224 2021 Theology and the Environment 18 points 1st Non standard period
CHTH231 2021 Christianity, War and Violence 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH233 2021 Public Theology: Faith in the Public Square 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH235 2021 Special Topic: Theology, Money and Markets 18 points First Semester
CHTH305 2021 The Roots of Public Theology 18 points Second Semester
CHTH306 2021 The Reformation (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH312 2021 Spirit, Church and Sacraments (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH313 2021 The Trinity (Advanced) 18 points Second Semester
CHTH314 2021 The Theology of Søren Kierkegaard 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH317 2021 Special Topic: Māori Religion and Theology (Advanced) 18 points Second Semester
CHTH318 2021 The Person and Work of Christ (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH319 2021 Reconciliation, Christian Ethics and Public Theology 18 points First Semester
CHTH320 2021 Public Theology and Social Justice 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH322 2021 Citizenship, Democracy and Discipleship 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH323 2021 Theology and Human Well-being 18 points Second Semester
CHTH324 2021 Theology and the Environment (Advanced) 18 points 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period
CHTH331 2021 Christianity, War and Violence (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH333 2021 Public Theology: Faith in the Public Square (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH335 2021 Special Topic: Theology, Money and Markets (Advanced) 18 points First Semester
CHTH403 2021 The Puritans: Working out the English Reformation 20 points First Semester
CHTH405 2021 The Roots of Public Theology 20 points Second Semester
CHTH414 2021 The Theology of Søren Kierkegaard (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH415 2021 Reconciliation, Christian Ethics and Public Theology (Advanced) 20 points First Semester
CHTH416 2021 The Theology of Bonhoeffer 20 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH420 2021 Public Theology and Social Justice (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH422 2021 Citizenship, Democracy and Discipleship (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2021
CHTH423 2021 Theology and Human Well-being (Advanced) 20 points Second Semester
CHTH490 2021 Dissertation 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period

HEBR papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
HEBR131 2021 Introductory Biblical Hebrew 1 18 points First Semester
HEBR132 2021 Introductory Biblical Hebrew 2 18 points Second Semester

MINS papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
MINS405 2021 Special Topic: A Practical Theology of Mental Health (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2021
MINS406 2021 Theological Perspectives on Leadership 20 points Not offered in 2021
MINS407 2021 Preaching and Communication in a Contemporary Context 20 points First Semester
MINS408 2021 Cultures, Migration and Faith 20 points Not offered in 2021
MINS409 2021 Chaplaincy Studies (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2021
MINS410 2021 Pastoral Care in Dying, Grief and Loss 20 points First Semester
MINS411 2021 Chaplaincy in Diverse Contexts 20 points Second Semester
MINS412 2021 Church in Mission: Theology in Changing Cultures (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2021
MINS413 2021 Missional God, Missional People (Advanced) 20 points Second Semester
MINS414 2021 Arts and Cultures in Christian Ministry and Mission (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2021
MINS590 2021 Research Project 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period

PAST papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
PAST216 2021 Current Perspectives on Pastoral Care 18 points Not offered in 2021
PAST219 2021 Christian Witness in a Secular World 18 points Second Semester
PAST307 2021 Special Topic: A Practical Theology of Mental Health 18 points Not offered in 2021
PAST311 2021 Preaching and Communication in a Contemporary Context 18 points First Semester
PAST314 2021 Cultures, Migration and Faith 18 points Not offered in 2021
PAST316 2021 Current Perspectives on Pastoral Care (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2021
PAST317 2021 Chaplaincy Studies 18 points Not offered in 2021
PAST318 2021 Pastoral Care in Dying, Grief and Loss 18 points First Semester
PAST319 2021 Christian Witness in a Secular World 18 points Second Semester
PAST320 2021 Church in Mission: Theology in Changing Cultures 18 points Not offered in 2021
PAST321 2021 Missional God, Missional People 18 points Second Semester
PAST322 2021 Arts and Cultures in Christian Ministry and Mission 18 points Not offered in 2021
PAST490 2021 Dissertation 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period

RELS papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
RELS101 2021 Introduction to Judaism, Christianity and Islam 18 points Second Semester
RELS102 2021 Introduction to Hinduism and Buddhism 18 points First Semester
RELS202 2021 The Religions of Southeast Asia 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS203 2021 Ancient Religion: Egypt to Mesopotamia 18 points 1st Non standard period
RELS209 2021 The Body in Asian Religions 18 points First Semester
RELS214 2021 New Religious Movements 18 points Summer School
RELS216 2021 Zen Buddhism 18 points Second Semester
RELS217 2021 Religion, Science, and Magic 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS220 2021 Representing Islam 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS225 2021 Science, Religion and Knowledge 18 points Second Semester
RELS226 2021 Mahayana Buddhism 18 points First Semester
RELS227 2021 Buddhist Thought 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2022
RELS230 2021 Special Topic: Zionists, Fundamentalists and Liberals: Jews in the Modern World 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS231 2021 Special Topic 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS235 2021 Religion, Law and Politics 18 points Second Semester
RELS237 2021 Psychology of Religion 18 points Summer School
RELS238 2021 Religion and Human Behaviour 18 points First Semester
RELS239 2021 Religion and Identity 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS240 2021 The Cultural Evolution of Religious Systems 18 points Second Semester
RELS241 2021 Religion, Conflict and Conspiracy Theory 18 points First Semester
RELS302 2021 Religions of Southeast Asia (Advanced) 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS303 2021 Ancient Religion: Egypt to Mesopotamia (Advanced) 18 points 1st Non standard period
RELS306 2021 New Religious Movements 18 points Summer School
RELS309 2021 The Body in Asian Religions 18 points First Semester
RELS314 2021 Religion and Identity (Advanced) 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS316 2021 Zen Buddhism 18 points Second Semester
RELS317 2021 Religion, Science, and Magic 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS320 2021 Representing Islam 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS325 2021 Science, Religion, and Knowledge (Advanced) 18 points Second Semester
RELS326 2021 Mahayana Buddhism 18 points First Semester
RELS327 2021 Buddhist Thought 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS330 2021 Special Topic: Zionists, Fundamentalists and Liberals: Jews in the Modern World 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS331 2021 Special Topic 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS335 2021 Religion, Law and Politics (Advanced) 18 points Second Semester
RELS336 2021 Buddhism, State and Society 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS337 2021 Psychology of Religion (Advanced) 18 points Summer School
RELS338 2021 Religion and Human Behaviour (Advanced) 18 points First Semester
RELS340 2021 The Cultural Evolution of Religious Systems 18 points Second Semester
RELS341 2021 Religion, Conflict and Conspiracy Theory (Advanced) 18 points First Semester
RELS436 2021 Buddhism, State and Society 20 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS490 2021 Dissertation 60 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS501 2021 The Evolution of Religion 30 points First Semester
RELS511 2021 Readings in Hindu Texts 30 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2022
RELS521 2021 Readings in Buddhist Texts 30 points Not offered in 2021
RELS522 2021 Buddhist Visual Culture in Southeast Asia 30 points First Semester
RELS523 2021 Key Debates in Buddhist Studies 30 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS531 2021 Pali for Postgraduates 30 points Full Year
RELS590 2021 Research Dissertation 60 points 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period

Key information for students

Contact details

For general queries, please contact theology@otago.ac.nz 

For queries about studying Theology on campus, please contact The Revd Dr James Harding.

For queries about studying Theology by Distance Learning, please contact Dr Chris Holmes.

For further information, see our home page at otago.ac.nz/theology