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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 2023

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Apply for the Bachelor of Theology with Honours (BTheol(Hons)) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Diploma in Theology (DipTheol) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Master of Faith-Based Leadership and Management (MFBLM) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Postgraduate Certificate in Chaplaincy (PGCertChap) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Faith-Based Leadership and Management (PGDipFBLM) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Ministry (PGDipMin) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Theology (PGDipTheol) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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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:

Programme requirements

Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Theology

Thesis
  • Thesis: THEO 5

Note: Students who have not completed a Bachelor of Arts (BA(Hons)) in Theology or a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Theology must complete the required papers for the BA(Hons) in Theology prior to undertaking the thesis.

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 2023 Interpreting the Old Testament 18 points Semester 1
BIBS121 2023 Interpreting the New Testament 18 points Semester 2
BIBS131 2023 Introductory New Testament Greek Language 1 18 points Semester 1
BIBS132 2023 Introductory New Testament Greek Language 2 18 points Semester 2
BIBS211 2023 God, Land and Exile in the Hebrew Prophets 18 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS213 2023 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis 2 18 points Full Year
BIBS215 2023 Special Topic: The Bible in Religious Education 18 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS218 2023 Judaism in the Time of Jesus 18 points Semester 2
BIBS221 2023 The Gospels 18 points Semester 1
BIBS223 2023 Greek New Testament Exegesis 2 18 points Full Year
BIBS224 2023 Special Topic: The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles 18 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS225 2023 Special Topic: Approaches to Hermeneutics 18 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS226 2023 Jesus in the New Testament 18 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS227 2023 Mātauranga Māori and the Bible 18 points Semester 1
BIBS311 2023 God, Land and Exile in the Hebrew Prophets (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS313 2023 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis 3 18 points Full Year
BIBS315 2023 Special Topic: Israel's Return from Exile 18 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS317 2023 God, Suffering and Justice 18 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS318 2023 Judaism in the Time of Jesus (Advanced) 18 points Semester 2
BIBS321 2023 The Gospels (Advanced) 18 points Semester 1
BIBS322 2023 The New Testament Epistles 18 points Semester 2
BIBS323 2023 Greek New Testament Exegesis 3 18 points Full Year
BIBS324 2023 Special Topic: The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles 18 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS325 2023 Special Topic: Approaches to Hermeneutics 18 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS326 2023 Jesus in the New Testament (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS327 2023 Mātauranga Māori and the Bible (Advanced) 18 points Semester 1
BIBS411 2023 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis (Advanced) 20 points Full Year
BIBS412 2023 Special Topic: Israels Return from Exile (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS413 2023 God, Suffering and Justice (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2023
BIBS421 2023 Greek New Testament Exegesis (Advanced) 20 points Full Year
BIBS423 2023 Special Topic: The New Testament Epistles 20 points Semester 2
BIBS490 2023 Dissertation 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period

CHTH papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
CHTH102 2023 The History of Christianity 18 points Semester 1
CHTH111 2023 Doing Theology 18 points Semester 1
CHTH131 2023 God and Ethics in the Modern World 18 points Semester 2
CHTH206 2023 The Reformation 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH212 2023 Spirit, Church and Sacraments 18 points Semester 2
CHTH213 2023 The Trinity 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH217 2023 Special Topic 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH218 2023 The Person and Work of Christ 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH224 2023 Theology and the Environment 18 points 1st Non standard period
CHTH231 2023 Christianity, War and Violence 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH233 2023 Public Theology: Faith in the Public Square 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH235 2023 Special Topic: Theology, Money and Markets 18 points Semester 1
CHTH236 2023 Māori Theology and Religion 18 points Semester 2
CHTH237 2023 Special Topic: Moana Pasifika Theology 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH305 2023 The Roots of Public Theology 18 points Semester 1
CHTH306 2023 The Reformation (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH312 2023 Spirit, Church and Sacraments (Advanced) 18 points Semester 2
CHTH313 2023 The Trinity (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH314 2023 The Theology of Søren Kierkegaard 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH317 2023 Special Topic 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH318 2023 The Person and Work of Christ (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH319 2023 Reconciliation, Christian Ethics and Public Theology 18 points Semester 2
CHTH320 2023 Public Theology and Social Justice 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH322 2023 Citizenship, Democracy and Discipleship 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH323 2023 Theology and Human Well-being 18 points Semester 2
CHTH324 2023 Theology and the Environment (Advanced) 18 points 1st Non standard period
CHTH331 2023 Christianity, War and Violence (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH333 2023 Public Theology: Faith in the Public Square (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH335 2023 Special Topic: Theology, Money and Markets (Advanced) 18 points Semester 1
CHTH336 2023 Māori Theology and Religion (Advanced) 18 points Semester 2
CHTH337 2023 Special Topic: Moana Pasifika Theology (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH403 2023 The Puritans: Working out the English Reformation 20 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH405 2023 The Roots of Public Theology 20 points Semester 1
CHTH414 2023 The Theology of Søren Kierkegaard (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH415 2023 Reconciliation, Christian Ethics and Public Theology (Advanced) 20 points Semester 2
CHTH416 2023 The Theology of Bonhoeffer 20 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH420 2023 Public Theology and Social Justice (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH422 2023 Citizenship, Democracy and Discipleship (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2023
CHTH423 2023 Theology and Human Well-being (Advanced) 20 points Semester 2
CHTH490 2023 Dissertation 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period

HEBR papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
HEBR131 2023 Introductory Biblical Hebrew 1 18 points Semester 1
HEBR132 2023 Introductory Biblical Hebrew 2 18 points Semester 2

MINS papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
MINS405 2023 Special Topic: A Practical Theology of Mental Health (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2023
MINS406 2023 Theological Perspectives on Leadership 20 points Semester 1
MINS407 2023 Preaching and Communication in a Contemporary Context 20 points Not offered in 2023
MINS408 2023 Cultures, Migration and Faith 20 points Not offered in 2023
MINS410 2023 Pastoral Care in Dying, Grief and Loss 20 points Not offered in 2023
MINS411 2023 Chaplaincy in Diverse Contexts 20 points Semester 2
MINS412 2023 Church in Mission: Theology in Changing Cultures (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2023
MINS413 2023 Missional God, Missional People (Advanced) 20 points Semester 1
MINS414 2023 Christian Theology and the Arts (Advanced) 20 points 1st Non standard period
MINS415 2023 Christian ministry in te ao Māori (the Māori World) (Advanced) 20 points Summer School
MINS424 2023 The Chaplain as Ceremonial Leader (Advanced) 20 points Not offered in 2023
MINS590 2023 Research Project 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period

PAST papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
PAST216 2023 Current Perspectives on Pastoral Care 18 points Not offered in 2023
PAST219 2023 Christian Witness in a Secular World 18 points Semester 2
PAST307 2023 Special Topic: A Practical Theology of Mental Health 18 points Not offered in 2023
PAST311 2023 Preaching and Communication in a Contemporary Context 18 points Not offered in 2023
PAST314 2023 Cultures, Migration and Faith 18 points Not offered in 2023
PAST316 2023 Current Perspectives on Pastoral Care (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
PAST318 2023 Pastoral Care in Dying, Grief and Loss 18 points Not offered in 2023
PAST319 2023 Christian Witness in a Secular World 18 points Semester 2
PAST320 2023 Church in Mission: Theology in Changing Cultures 18 points Not offered in 2023
PAST321 2023 Missional God, Missional People 18 points Semester 1
PAST322 2023 Christian Theology and the Arts 18 points 1st Non standard period
PAST323 2023 Christian ministry in te ao Māori (the Māori World) 18 points Summer School
PAST324 2023 The Chaplain as Ceremonial Leader 18 points Not offered in 2023
PAST490 2023 Dissertation 60 points Full Year

RELS papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
RELS101 2023 Introduction to Judaism, Christianity and Islam 18 points Semester 2
RELS102 2023 Introduction to Hinduism and Buddhism 18 points Semester 1
RELS110 2023 Introduction to the Scientific Study of Religion 18 points Semester 2
RELS202 2023 The Religions of Southeast Asia 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS203 2023 Ancient Religion: Egypt to Mesopotamia 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS209 2023 The Body in Asian Religions 18 points Semester 2
RELS214 2023 New Religious Movements 18 points Summer School
RELS216 2023 Zen Buddhism 18 points Semester 2
RELS217 2023 Religion, Science, and Magic 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS220 2023 Representing Islam 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS225 2023 Science, Religion and Knowledge 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS226 2023 Mahayana Buddhism 18 points Semester 1
RELS227 2023 Buddhist Thought 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS230 2023 Special Topic: Zionists, Fundamentalists and Liberals: Jews in the Modern World 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS231 2023 Special Topic 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS235 2023 Religion, Law and Politics 18 points Semester 2
RELS236 2023 Buddhism, State and Society 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS237 2023 Psychology of Religion 18 points Summer School
RELS238 2023 Religion and Human Behaviour 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS239 2023 Religion and Identity 18 points Semester 1
RELS240 2023 The Cultural Evolution of Religious Systems 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS241 2023 Religion, Conflict and Conspiracy Theory 18 points Semester 1
RELS244 2023 Ancient Egypt: Magic and Mystery 18 points 1st Non standard period
RELS302 2023 Religions of Southeast Asia (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS303 2023 Ancient Religion: Egypt to Mesopotamia (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS306 2023 New Religious Movements 18 points Summer School
RELS309 2023 The Body in Asian Religions 18 points Semester 2
RELS314 2023 Religion and Identity (Advanced) 18 points Semester 1
RELS316 2023 Zen Buddhism 18 points Semester 2
RELS317 2023 Religion, Science, and Magic 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS320 2023 Representing Islam 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS325 2023 Science, Religion, and Knowledge (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS326 2023 Mahayana Buddhism 18 points Semester 1
RELS327 2023 Buddhist Thought 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS330 2023 Special Topic: Zionists, Fundamentalists and Liberals: Jews in the Modern World 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS331 2023 Special Topic 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS335 2023 Religion, Law and Politics (Advanced) 18 points Semester 2
RELS336 2023 Buddhism, State and Society (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS337 2023 Psychology of Religion (Advanced) 18 points Summer School
RELS338 2023 Religion and Human Behaviour (Advanced) 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS340 2023 The Cultural Evolution of Religious Systems 18 points Not offered in 2023
RELS341 2023 Religion, Conflict and Conspiracy Theory (Advanced) 18 points Semester 1
RELS344 2023 Ancient Egypt: Magic and Mystery 18 points 1st Non standard period
RELS490 2023 Dissertation 60 points Not offered in 2023
RELS501 2023 The Evolution of Religion 30 points Semester 1
RELS511 2023 Readings in Hindu Texts 30 points Semester 2
RELS521 2023 Readings in Buddhist Texts 30 points 1st Non standard period
RELS522 2023 Buddhist Visual Culture in Southeast Asia 30 points Not offered in 2023
RELS523 2023 Key Debates in Buddhist Studies 30 points Not offered in 2023
RELS531 2023 Pali for Postgraduates 30 points Full Year
RELS532 2023 Sanskrit for Postgraduates 30 points Not offered in 2023
RELS590 2023 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 or by Distance Learning, please contact The Revd Dr James Harding.

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