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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 2022

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Apply for the Bachelor of Theology with Honours (BTheol(Hons)) through the Dunedin campus in 2022

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Apply for the Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad) through the Dunedin campus in 2022

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Apply for the Diploma in Theology (DipTheol) through the Dunedin campus in 2022

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Apply for the Master of Faith-Based Leadership and Management (MFBLM) through the Dunedin campus in 2022

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Apply for the Postgraduate Certificate in Chaplaincy (PGCertChap) through the Dunedin campus in 2022

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Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Faith-Based Leadership and Management (PGDipFBLM) through the Dunedin campus in 2022

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Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Ministry (PGDipMin) through the Dunedin campus in 2022

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Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Theology (PGDipTheol) through the Dunedin campus in 2022

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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

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website

BIBS papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
BIBS112 2022 Interpreting the Old Testament 18 points Semester 2
BIBS121 2022 Interpreting the New Testament 18 points Semester 1
BIBS131 2022 Introductory New Testament Greek Language 1 18 points Semester 1
BIBS132 2022 Introductory New Testament Greek Language 2 18 points Semester 2
BIBS211 2022 God, Land and Exile in the Hebrew Prophets 18 points Semester 2
BIBS213 2022 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis 2 18 points Full Year
BIBS215 2022 Special Topic: The Bible in Religious Education 18 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS218 2022 Judaism in the Time of Jesus 18 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS221 2022 The Gospels 18 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS223 2022 Greek New Testament Exegesis 2 18 points Full Year
BIBS224 2022 Special Topic: The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles 18 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS225 2022 Special Topic: Approaches to Hermeneutics 18 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS226 2022 Jesus in the New Testament 18 points Semester 2
BIBS311 2022 God, Land and Exile in the Hebrew Prophets (Advanced) 18 points Semester 2
BIBS313 2022 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis 3 18 points Full Year
BIBS315 2022 Special Topic: Israel's Return from Exile 18 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS317 2022 God, Suffering and Justice 18 points Semester 1
BIBS318 2022 Judaism in the Time of Jesus (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS321 2022 The Gospels (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS322 2022 The New Testament Epistles 18 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS323 2022 Greek New Testament Exegesis 3 18 points Full Year
BIBS324 2022 Special Topic: The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles 18 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS325 2022 Special Topic: Approaches to Hermeneutics 18 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS326 2022 Jesus in the New Testament (Advanced) 18 points Semester 2
BIBS411 2022 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis (Advanced) 20 points Full Year
BIBS412 2022 Special Topic: Israels Return from Exile (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS413 2022 God, Suffering and Justice (Advanced) 20 points Semester 1
BIBS421 2022 Greek New Testament Exegesis (Advanced) 20 points Full Year
BIBS423 2022 Special Topic: The New Testament Epistles 20 points Not offered in 2022
BIBS490 2022 Dissertation 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period

CHTH papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
CHTH102 2022 The History of Christianity 18 points Semester 1
CHTH111 2022 Doing Theology 18 points Semester 1
CHTH131 2022 God and Ethics in the Modern World 18 points Semester 2
CHTH206 2022 The Reformation 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH212 2022 Spirit, Church and Sacraments 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH213 2022 The Trinity 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH217 2022 Special Topic: Māori Religion and Theology 18 points Semester 2
CHTH218 2022 The Person and Work of Christ 18 points Semester 1
CHTH224 2022 Theology and the Environment 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH231 2022 Christianity, War and Violence 18 points Semester 2
CHTH233 2022 Public Theology: Faith in the Public Square 18 points Semester 2
CHTH235 2022 Special Topic: Christian Theology and Science 18 points 1st Non standard period
CHTH305 2022 The Roots of Public Theology 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH306 2022 The Reformation (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH312 2022 Spirit, Church and Sacraments (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH313 2022 The Trinity (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH314 2022 The Theology of Søren Kierkegaard 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH317 2022 Special Topic: Māori Religion and Theology (Advanced) 18 points Semester 2
CHTH318 2022 The Person and Work of Christ (Advanced) 18 points Semester 1
CHTH319 2022 Reconciliation, Christian Ethics and Public Theology 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH320 2022 Public Theology and Social Justice 18 points Semester 1, Semester 2
CHTH322 2022 Citizenship, Democracy and Discipleship 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH323 2022 Theology and Human Well-being 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH324 2022 Theology and the Environment (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH331 2022 Christianity, War and Violence (Advanced) 18 points Semester 2
CHTH333 2022 Public Theology: Faith in the Public Square (Advanced) 18 points Semester 2
CHTH335 2022 Special Topic: Christian Theology and Science (Advanced) 18 points 1st Non standard period
CHTH403 2022 The Puritans: Working out the English Reformation 20 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH405 2022 The Roots of Public Theology 20 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH414 2022 The Theology of Søren Kierkegaard (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH415 2022 Reconciliation, Christian Ethics and Public Theology (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH416 2022 The Theology of Bonhoeffer 20 points Semester 2
CHTH420 2022 Public Theology and Social Justice (Advanced) 20 points Semester 1
CHTH422 2022 Citizenship, Democracy and Discipleship (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH423 2022 Theology and Human Well-being (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2022
CHTH490 2022 Dissertation 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period

HEBR papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
HEBR131 2022 Introductory Biblical Hebrew 1 18 points Semester 1
HEBR132 2022 Introductory Biblical Hebrew 2 18 points Semester 2

MINS papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
MINS405 2022 Special Topic: A Practical Theology of Mental Health (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2022
MINS406 2022 Theological Perspectives on Leadership 20 points Not offered in 2022
MINS407 2022 Preaching and Communication in a Contemporary Context 20 points Not offered in 2022
MINS408 2022 Cultures, Migration and Faith 20 points Semester 2
MINS410 2022 Pastoral Care in Dying, Grief and Loss 20 points Semester 2
MINS411 2022 Chaplaincy in Diverse Contexts 20 points Not offered in 2022
MINS412 2022 Church in Mission: Theology in Changing Cultures (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2022
MINS413 2022 Missional God, Missional People (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2022
MINS414 2022 Arts and Cultures in Christian Ministry and Mission (Advanced) 20 points 1st Non standard period
MINS415 2022 Christian ministry in te ao Māori (the Māori World) (Advanced) 20 points Summer School
MINS424 2022 The Chaplain as Ceremonial Leader (Advanced) 20 points Semester 1
MINS590 2022 Research Project 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period

PAST papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
PAST216 2022 Current Perspectives on Pastoral Care 18 points Semester 1
PAST219 2022 Christian Witness in a Secular World 18 points Not offered in 2022
PAST307 2022 Special Topic: A Practical Theology of Mental Health 18 points Not offered in 2022
PAST311 2022 Preaching and Communication in a Contemporary Context 18 points Not offered in 2022
PAST314 2022 Cultures, Migration and Faith 18 points Semester 2
PAST316 2022 Current Perspectives on Pastoral Care (Advanced) 18 points Semester 1
PAST318 2022 Pastoral Care in Dying, Grief and Loss 18 points Semester 2
PAST319 2022 Christian Witness in a Secular World 18 points Not offered in 2022
PAST320 2022 Church in Mission: Theology in Changing Cultures 18 points Not offered in 2022
PAST321 2022 Missional God, Missional People 18 points Not offered in 2022
PAST322 2022 Arts and Cultures in Christian Ministry and Mission 18 points 1st Non standard period
PAST323 2022 Christian ministry in te ao Māori (the Māori World) 18 points Summer School
PAST324 2022 The Chaplain as Ceremonial Leader 18 points Semester 1
PAST490 2022 Dissertation 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period

RELS papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
RELS101 2022 Introduction to Judaism, Christianity and Islam 18 points Semester 1
RELS102 2022 Introduction to Hinduism and Buddhism 18 points Semester 2
RELS110 2022 Introduction to the Scientific Study of Religion 18 points Semester 1
RELS202 2022 The Religions of Southeast Asia 18 points Summer School
RELS203 2022 Ancient Religion: Egypt to Mesopotamia 18 points 1st Non standard period
RELS209 2022 The Body in Asian Religions 18 points Semester 1
RELS214 2022 New Religious Movements 18 points Not offered in 2022
RELS216 2022 Zen Buddhism 18 points Semester 2
RELS217 2022 Religion, Science, and Magic 18 points Semester 2
RELS220 2022 Representing Islam 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS225 2022 Science, Religion and Knowledge 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS226 2022 Mahayana Buddhism 18 points Semester 1
RELS227 2022 Buddhist Thought 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS230 2022 Special Topic: Zionists, Fundamentalists and Liberals: Jews in the Modern World 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS231 2022 Special Topic 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS235 2022 Religion, Law and Politics 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS236 2022 Buddhism, State and Society 18 points Semester 1
RELS237 2022 Psychology of Religion 18 points Summer School
RELS238 2022 Religion and Human Behaviour 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS239 2022 Religion and Identity 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS240 2022 The Cultural Evolution of Religious Systems 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS241 2022 Religion, Conflict and Conspiracy Theory 18 points Semester 2
RELS302 2022 Religions of Southeast Asia (Advanced) 18 points Summer School
RELS303 2022 Ancient Religion: Egypt to Mesopotamia (Advanced) 18 points 1st Non standard period
RELS306 2022 New Religious Movements 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS309 2022 The Body in Asian Religions 18 points Semester 1
RELS314 2022 Religion and Identity (Advanced) 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS316 2022 Zen Buddhism 18 points Semester 2
RELS317 2022 Religion, Science, and Magic 18 points Semester 2
RELS320 2022 Representing Islam 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS325 2022 Science, Religion, and Knowledge (Advanced) 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS326 2022 Mahayana Buddhism 18 points Semester 1
RELS327 2022 Buddhist Thought 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS330 2022 Special Topic: Zionists, Fundamentalists and Liberals: Jews in the Modern World 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS331 2022 Special Topic 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS335 2022 Religion, Law and Politics (Advanced) 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS336 2022 Buddhism, State and Society (Advenced) 18 points Semester 1
RELS337 2022 Psychology of Religion (Advanced) 18 points Summer School
RELS338 2022 Religion and Human Behaviour (Advanced) 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS340 2022 The Cultural Evolution of Religious Systems 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023
RELS341 2022 Religion, Conflict and Conspiracy Theory (Advanced) 18 points Semester 2
RELS490 2022 Dissertation 60 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
RELS501 2022 The Evolution of Religion 30 points Semester 1
RELS511 2022 Readings in Hindu Texts 30 points Semester 2
RELS521 2022 Readings in Buddhist Texts 30 points 1st Non standard period
RELS522 2022 Buddhist Visual Culture in Southeast Asia 30 points Semester 1
RELS523 2022 Key Debates in Buddhist Studies 30 points Semester 2
RELS531 2022 Pali for Postgraduates 30 points Full Year
RELS532 2022 Sanskrit for Postgraduates 30 points Full Year
RELS590 2022 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