We firmly believe that teaching should be driven by the research activity of the members of the department, so the research of staff and research students is central to what we do.

All members of staff are actively engaged with the international research community in their specific area of expertise which includes the Anglican tradition, Black Theology and Pentecostalism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Buddhist Studies, Queer Theory and Jewish Studies and Jewish-Christian relations.

Postgraduate Research and Supervision of M.Phil and PhD research:

We are able to offer supervision on a broad range of topics within our research expertise.

As a research student you will be viewed as being an integral part of the life of the Department, contributing to its research and teaching profiles.

You will be given high quality supervision as well as University wide research training. There are also a regular series of Staff and Graduate research seminars that you will both attend and contribute to.

The University offers bursaries for research at M.Phil/PhD levels.

For further details of financial support available and the application process please go to the University research pages.

Research expertise:

We share a particular interest in religion, culture and identity: how does the cultural context inform and challenge religious identification and how are identities mediated by religious practices and cultural characteristics?

Prof. Robert Beckford explores the political theologies of the Caribbean diaspora in Britain and was a founding member of Black Theology: An International Journal. With particular research interests in Pentecostalism, Rastafari and black music culture, Prof. Beckford examines the intersection(s) between religious experience, cultural expression and political action.

With a concern for radical praxis, social justice and building inclusive communities Prof. Beckford researches in written and visual texts and has won awards for religious and political documentary film productions on commercial television stations including Channel 4, BBC 2, BBC4 and Discovery USA.

His recent research projects include a postcolonial theological reflection on documentary film ( Documentary as Exorcism: Resisting the Bewitchment of Colonial Christianity , Continuum 2014) and work on the Jamaican Bible. He has recently presented two documentaries, Easter? (BBCi, 2014) and Seven Wonders of Brazi l (BBC 2, 2014).

Robert's full staff profile

Dr David Burton is currently working on a book about contemporary philosophy of religion from a Buddhist perspective. This will be published by Routledge in a new series of monographs edited by Chad Meister (Bethel College) and Charles Taliaferro (St Olaf College).

He is also working on an article about the representation of caste and social injustice in Indian films.

Recently published research includes:

  • 'Fire, Water and the Goddess. The Films of Deepa Mehta and Satyjit Ray as Critiques of patirachy in Hinduism'. Journal of Religion and Film 17 (2), 2013;
  • 'Emptiness in Indian Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy' in Steven Emmanuel (ed) A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy , Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013,151-164;
  • A Buddhist Perspective' in Chad Meister (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Religious Diversity . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, 321-336;
  •  'Curing Diseases of Belief and Desire: Buddhist Philosophical Therapy' in Jonardon Ganeri and Clare Carlisle (eds), Philosophy as Therapeia: Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement: 66 , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, 187-218.

David's full staff profile

Dr Brian Capper’s research and teaching focuses on the New Testament in its contexts of ancient Judaism and the graeco-roman world. He is particularly interested in the social form of the early Christian churches and their charitable activities.

He is currently preparing a monograph entitled Jesus and the Covenant of the Poor on the origins of mutually supportive Christian community forms in Judaea at the time of Jesus' death and resurrection.

His recent publications include reviews for Theology, articles for the Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception (Berlin: De Gruyter) and the following articles:

  • ‘Jesus, Biblical Covenant, and the Essene New Covenant of ancient Judaea: On the Origins of the Early Christian Familial Economic Covenant’ (The Qumran Chronicle),
  •  ‘John, Qumran and Virtuoso Religion.’ (in John and Qumran: Sixty Years of Discovery and Dialogue, ed. Tom Thatcher and Mary L. Coloe),
  • ‘Jesus, Virtuoso Religion and Community of Goods.’ (in Engaging Economics: New Testament Scenarios and Early Christian Interpretation, ed. Bruce Longenecker and Kelly Liebengood)

‘Holy community of life and property and amongst the poor: A response to Steve Walton’ (Evangelical Quarterly).

Brian's full staff profile

Dr Maria Diemling is a historian with a particular interest in Jewish-Christian relations in the early modern period.

She has published on Jewish converts, the use of ethnography as a polemical tool in Jewish-Christian discourse, early modern Christian and Jewish views of each other and various aspects of body perceptions in religion.

She is also interested in the link between food, religion and identity. Dr Diemling is the co-editor of The Jewish Body (Leiden: Brill, 2009) and of a research-based online teaching resource on Jewish-non-Jewish relations.

She is currently studying contemporary Jewish identity and culture in a small Reform community in a collaborative Knowledge Exchange project.

The first findings were published as '"Where Do You Draw the Line?" Negotiating Kashrut and Jewish Identity in a Small British Reform Community', in Food, Culture & Society, 17, 1 (2014), 125-142 (with Larry Ray).

A more recent project examines the history of the community’s Torah Scroll which was saved in the Holocaust.

Maria's full staff profile

Dr Ivan Khovacs approaches theology as constructive and critical discipline. This forms the foundation for his work in Anglican theology and the public nature of the Christian faith; equally, for research on theology’s interdisciplinary engagement with the arts, film, drama and theories of the stage.

He is currently completing a manuscript for a monograph on theatrical aesthetics and dramatic discourse in theology.

 His latest academic article outlines an aesthetic methodology for the theology and film interface, an area that has gained significance in recent years, and attempts to exploit theologically the visual language of film montage and the vicarious perspective of the directorial lens (Cithara 51.1, Nov. 2011).

A critical article on contemporary appropriations of C.S. Lewis as a theologian will appear in The Journal of Inklings Studies (Oxford, 2012), and furthers the appraisals offered in his co-edited volume Tree of Tales: Tolkien, Literature and Theology (Baylor, 2007).

Academically, he works from the thesis that the Christian appeal to ‘the Word made flesh’ entails a dramatic, imaginative and, ultimately, ‘performative’ understanding of God.

Ivan's full staff profile

Dr Ralph Norman has a strong interest in Christology, rooted in his PhD research on the doctrine of the ascension and negative theology. He has published on Christian doctrine, theological method, theological education, mysticism, and several articles on theology and sexuality. He takes a critical approach to theology, and his writing is typically historical, and skeptical of the claims of systematic theology. He regards this as an expression of a particular type of Anglican thought, suspicious of Continental idealism. This is reflected in his recent work on idealism, theological language and theories of sexuality, which he intends to publish as a book. He has a strong interest in the Anglican tradition, and has written on seventeenth century Anglican thinkers.

Ralph's full staff profile



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Last edited: 21/08/2019 14:39:00