Philosophy, Religions and Liberal Arts

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Welcome to the Department of Philosophy, Religions and Liberal Arts

In today’s complex and fast-changing multicultural world, serious enquiry into the time-honoured subjects of Philosophy, Religion, Theology and Liberal Arts is more vital and relevant than ever. There can be few better places to do this than Winchester. The department comprises nationally and internationally respected researchers with a wide range of interests, and offers a broad and varied undergraduate programme. You will be taught by a lively, enthusiastic and highly qualified team of academics, committed to giving you the best possible experience.

Our degrees are a great preparation for many careers: recent graduates have gone into journalism, teaching, counselling, social work, law, religious ministry and commerce, as well as postgraduate study and research. We have the largest group of MPhil/PhD students in the University, working on a wide range of research topics.

We work closely with colleagues across the University such as the Centre for Religion, Reconciliation and Peace, the Institute for Value Studies and the Winchester Institute for Contemplative Education and Practice.


Collaborative Provision

Sarum College is a Trusted Collaborative Partner, and the University of Winchester validates the following programmes:

Latest News

The return of Socrates: Plato's Republic reimagined for a new age

Socrates On Trial (Bloomsbury 2021), the new book by leading educational philosopher Professor Nigel Tubbs, has been named by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams as one the Books of the Year in The New Statesman (Nov 2021).

Written mostly as a dialogue, the book imagines what might happen if Socrates were to return today. It tells of Socrates’ return to a modern city, to find that orators have become spin doctors, and that society is still plagued by prejudice, privilege and populism. Once again he insists on asking uncomfortable questions in the agora. Once again he is arrested and interrogated.

The book includes a new version of Plato’s famous Republic and asks: how might a new Republic respond to the symbiotic relationship between education and elitism? Socrates explores a new model for the just city – a city based not on power and property but on learning – before offering a new Apology to the court that will, once again, decide his fate.

Drawing of Plato sitting by Socrates' tomb

Plato sitting by Socrates' tomb - image Wikimedia Commons

Nigel also recently authored a blog for WONKHE, asking whether we are in danger of developing a two-tier education system - the good stuff for the elite, and job training for the rest?

Praise for Socrates on Trial

An impassioned challenge to the stupidities of current educational practice from the UK’s best educational philosopher’ Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

'Compelling' Howard Caygill, Professor of Philosophy, Kingston University

'A much-needed plea for a Socratic uprising in education' Emma Cohen de Lara, Senior Lecturer In Political Theory, Amsterdam University College, The Netherlands

'A tour de force’ Josh Cohen, Professor of Modern Literary Theory, Goldsmiths, University of London

For more Public Engagement news, see below.

Meet the Philosophy, Religions and Liberal Arts team

Academic team

TRP staff work closely with colleagues in the:

Emeritus Professors

Visiting Research/Knowledge Exchange Fellows

Research Fellows

Knowledge Exchange Fellows

Research in Philosophy, Religions and Liberal Arts

Research strengths

  • Orthodox Theology, Greek Patristics, Iconology, Ecclesiology, Liturgy, Christian Semiotics,
  • Sacred Art and Monasticism
  • Scripture and Old Testament
  • Mesopotamian religious beliefs 
  • Religion, Reconciliation and Peacebuilding
  • Political theology
  • Contemporary continental philosophy and its relation to the arts, technology and the sciences
  • Theological ethics, bioethics and the relationship between science and theology
  • Indigenous religions
  • Religions, nature and environmentalism
  • Death Studies
  • Religion in art and visual culture
  • Disability theology
  • Systematic theology
  • ​Continental philosophy of religion
  • Medieval Jewish Winchester

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

REF 2021

Find out about our REF 2021 submission - our researchers, our strengths and our Impact Case Studies.

REF 2014

The Department of Theology, Religion and Philosophy carries out world-leading research with equally world-leading social impact, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), which graded 42% of Winchester’s Theology and Religious Studies submission as 'world-leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*). Overall, 85% of our research in theology and religion was deemed of international quality (2* and above).

For economic, social and cultural impact, our Theology and Religious Studies submission was ranked 15th in the UK by Times Higher Education, with 20% ‘outstanding’ (4*) in its reach and significance, 70% ‘very considerable’ (3*) and 10% ‘considerable’ (2*).

Research publications in our Theology and Religious Studies submission included books on topics as diverse as animal ethics, Eastern Orthodoxy, interreligious dialogue, the Song of Songs, the theology of health, feminist theology, and the theology of Scripture.

Impact case studies

The research impact assessed in REF 2014 included a project on Religion and Peacebuilding in Nepal, led by Dr Mark Owen and Prof. Anna King of the University’s Centre of Religion, Reconciliation and Peace. Owen and King researched the contributions that religious groups could make to the ongoing peace process following a decade of civil war in Nepal. Their research led to a major national consultation in Kathmandu, bringing grassroots peacebuilders together with Government representatives, NGOs and other stakeholders. Their work has also led to discussions with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office about religious peacebuilding in Nepal and elsewhere.

See all REF 2014 Theology and Religious Studies Impact Case Studies.

Postgraduate research supervision

We offer research supervision in a wide range of subjects. To find out more, explore our academic staff profile pages above for individual areas of supervision or use the Find an Expert search bar below.

Find out everything you need to know about studying for a postgraduate research degree at Winchester.

Public Engagement with Research

Our links with faith communities, media and professional groups ensure that our research has impact well beyond the academic community.

Philosopher Dr Timothy Secret is a former AHRC/BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker. His essay exploring how we react when looked at by animals for BBC Radio 3's 2012 Free Thinking Festival forms part of Instant Expert, a Penguin audiobook collecting the first 100 Essays by New Generation Thinkers broadcast on BBC Radio 3 during the first 10 years of the New Generation Thinkers scheme – a partnership between the AHRC and BBC Radio 3. Instant Expert was published in Sept. 2021.

grey cat with piercing yellow eyes

We have close ties with Winchester Cathedral, we participate in community events such as the Greenbelt Festival and Winchester Heritage Open Days, and we work closely with local authorities on projects such as Medieval Jewish Winchester, led by Dr Christina Welch.

Research and engagement events held by the department include conferences and free research seminars, as well as participation in external events. Email us if you would like to be kept up to date about our seminar series or other University events.

Recent events

Christian Theology in the midst of Covid-19

An online conference in 2020 that explored the role of theology in the current pandemic as it unfolded.

Find out more about the Christian Theology in the midst of Covid-19 conference and the organiser, Prof. Neil Messer

Image by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Theology and Covid-19 conference image of Coronavirus against background of Universe

West Hill Cemetery Virtual Tour

An online event for the 2020 Virtual Winchester Heritage Open Days. 

Take the West Hill Cemetery Virtual Tour

Find out more about the West Hill Cemetery Project and its Principal Investigator, Dr Christina Welch

Image by Emily Millis