University Of Otago Theology

The Theology Programme at Otago offers campus and distance courses on the Bible, Christian Theology, Church History, Public Theology, Pastoral and Practical Theology, Ministry, and Chaplaincy that will deepen your understanding of the Christian Faith.

We also have an exciting range of postgraduate programmes and a thriving research culture. Studying with us will help you to explore Christian faith, yourself and the world.


  • To study Theology is to engage with the deepest questions of life.


  • Study Theology from anywhere in New Zealand …or the world!


  • Everything you need to know about postgraduate study in Theology.

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  • Internationally recognised teachers and researchers.

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.

You must choose a qualification to enrol, but you can easily change it later.

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: