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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.

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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.

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.

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.

Requirements

Theology as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BSc, BCom, BEntr, 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 Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), 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

PapersPoints

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).

PAST papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
PAST216 2024 Current Perspectives on Pastoral Care 18 Semester 1
PAST219 2024 Christian Witness in a Secular World 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
PAST225 2024 Special Topic 18 Semester 2
PAST307 2024 Special Topic: A Practical Theology of Mental Health 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
PAST311 2024 Preaching and Communication in a Contemporary Context 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
PAST314 2024 Cultures, Migration and Faith 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
PAST316 2024 Current Perspectives on Pastoral Care (Advanced) 18 Semester 1
PAST318 2024 Pastoral Care in Dying, Grief and Loss 18 Semester 2
PAST319 2024 Christian Witness in a Secular World 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
PAST320 2024 Church in Mission: Theology in Changing Cultures 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
PAST321 2024 Missional God, Missional People 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
PAST322 2024 Christian Theology and the Arts 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
PAST323 2024 Christian ministry in te ao Māori (the Māori World) 18 Summer School
PAST324 2024 The Chaplain as Ceremonial Leader 18 Semester 1
PAST325 2024 Special Topic 18 Semester 2
PAST490 2024 Dissertation 60 Full Year, 1st Non standard period

MINS papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
MINS405 2024 Special Topic: A Practical Theology of Mental Health (Advanced) 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
MINS406 2024 Theological Perspectives on Leadership 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
MINS407 2024 Preaching and Communication in a Contemporary Context 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
MINS408 2024 Cultures, Migration and Faith 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
MINS410 2024 Pastoral Care in Dying, Grief and Loss 20 Semester 2
MINS411 2024 Chaplaincy in Diverse Contexts 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
MINS412 2024 Church in Mission: Theology in Changing Cultures (Advanced) 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
MINS413 2024 Missional God, Missional People (Advanced) 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
MINS414 2024 Christian Theology and the Arts (Advanced) 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
MINS415 2024 Christian ministry in te ao Māori (the Māori World) (Advanced) 20 Summer School
MINS424 2024 The Chaplain as Ceremonial Leader (Advanced) 20 Semester 1
MINS590 2024 Research Project 60 Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period
MINS592 2024 Research Project 15 Semester 1, Semester 2

HEBR papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
HEBR131 2024 Introductory Biblical Hebrew 1 18 Semester 1
HEBR132 2024 Introductory Biblical Hebrew 2 18 Semester 2

CHTH papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
CHTH102 2024 The History of Christianity 18 Semester 1
CHTH111 2024 Doing Theology 18 Semester 2
CHTH131 2024 God and Ethics in the Modern World 18 Semester 2
CHTH206 2024 The Reformation 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH212 2024 Spirit, Church and Sacraments 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH213 2024 The Trinity 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH217 2024 Special Topic: Theology and Science 18 1st Non standard period
CHTH218 2024 The Person and Work of Christ 18 Semester 1
CHTH224 2024 Theology and the Environment 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH231 2024 Christianity, War and Violence 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH233 2024 Public Theology: Faith in the Public Square 18 Semester 1
CHTH235 2024 Special Topic: Theology, Money and Markets 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH236 2024 Māori Theology and Religion 18 Semester 2
CHTH237 2024 Special Topic: Moana Pasifika Theology 18 Semester 1
CHTH305 2024 The Roots of Public Theology 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH306 2024 The Reformation (Advanced) 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH312 2024 Spirit, Church and Sacraments (Advanced) 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH313 2024 The Trinity (Advanced) 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH314 2024 The Theology of Søren Kierkegaard 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH317 2024 Special Topic: Theology and Science 18 1st Non standard period
CHTH318 2024 The Person and Work of Christ (Advanced) 18 Semester 1
CHTH319 2024 Reconciliation, Christian Ethics and Public Theology 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH320 2024 Public Theology and Social Justice 18 Semester 1
CHTH322 2024 Citizenship, Democracy and Discipleship 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH323 2024 Theology and Human Well-being 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH324 2024 Theology and the Environment (Advanced) 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH331 2024 Christianity, War and Violence (Advanced) 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH333 2024 Public Theology: Faith in the Public Square (Advanced) 18 Semester 1
CHTH335 2024 Special Topic: Theology, Money and Markets (Advanced) 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH336 2024 Māori Theology and Religion (Advanced) 18 Semester 2
CHTH337 2024 Special Topic: Moana Pasifika Theology (Advanced) 18 Semester 1
CHTH403 2024 The Puritans: Working out the English Reformation 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH405 2024 The Roots of Public Theology 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH414 2024 The Theology of Søren Kierkegaard (Advanced) 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH415 2024 Reconciliation, Christian Ethics and Public Theology (Advanced) 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH416 2024 The Theology of Bonhoeffer 20 Semester 2
CHTH420 2024 Public Theology and Social Justice (Advanced) 20 Semester 1
CHTH422 2024 Citizenship, Democracy and Discipleship (Advanced) 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH423 2024 Theology and Human Well-being (Advanced) 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
CHTH490 2024 Dissertation 60 Full Year, 1st Non standard period

BIBS papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
BIBS112 2024 Interpreting the Old Testament 18 Semester 1
BIBS121 2024 Interpreting the New Testament 18 Semester 1
BIBS131 2024 Introductory New Testament Greek Language 1 18 Semester 1
BIBS132 2024 Introductory New Testament Greek Language 2 18 Semester 2
BIBS211 2024 God, Land and Exile in the Hebrew Prophets 18 Semester 2
BIBS213 2024 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis 2 18 Full Year
BIBS215 2024 Special Topic: The Bible in Religious Education 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS218 2024 Judaism in the Time of Jesus 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS221 2024 The Gospels 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS223 2024 Greek New Testament Exegesis 2 18 Full Year
BIBS224 2024 Special Topic: The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS225 2024 Special Topic: Approaches to Hermeneutics 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS226 2024 Jesus in the New Testament 18 Semester 2
BIBS227 2024 Mātauranga Māori and the Bible 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS311 2024 God, Land and Exile in the Hebrew Prophets (Advanced) 18 Semester 2
BIBS313 2024 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis 3 18 Full Year
BIBS315 2024 Special Topic: Israel's Return from Exile 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS317 2024 God, Suffering and Justice 18 Semester 1
BIBS318 2024 Judaism in the Time of Jesus (Advanced) 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS321 2024 The Gospels (Advanced) 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS322 2024 The New Testament Epistles 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS323 2024 Greek New Testament Exegesis 3 18 Full Year
BIBS324 2024 Special Topic: The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS325 2024 Special Topic: Approaches to Hermeneutics 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS326 2024 Jesus in the New Testament (Advanced) 18 Semester 2
BIBS327 2024 Mātauranga Māori and the Bible (Advanced) 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS411 2024 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis (Advanced) 20 Full Year
BIBS412 2024 Special Topic: Israels Return from Exile (Advanced) 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS413 2024 God, Suffering and Justice (Advanced) 20 Semester 1
BIBS421 2024 Greek New Testament Exegesis (Advanced) 20 Full Year
BIBS423 2024 Special Topic: The New Testament Epistles 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
BIBS490 2024 Dissertation 60 1st Non standard period

More information

Contact us

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

For queries about studying Theology on campus or by Distance Learning, please contact The Revd Associate Professor James Harding.

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

Studying at Otago

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Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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