The Joint School of Philosophy and Theology combines the analytical rigour of philosophy with the doctrinal, historical, and textual concerns of theology. Oriel has an especially strong association with the Joint School, which was founded by Oriel fellow Basil Mitchell in the 1970s.
Many other important philosophers of religion have taught or studied at Oriel, from Joseph Butler in the 18th century to John Hick and Richard Swinburne more recently. Brian Leftow, the Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion, is also a fellow of Oriel and an active member of its philosophical community.
Whether considered independently or in combination, philosophy and theology are thriving subjects at Oriel. The College has three tutorial fellows in philosophy, with particular strengths in ancient philosophy, early modern philosophy, the philosophy of physics, metaphysics and epistemology. Oriel’s theology fellow works primarily in philosophical theology and the philosophy of religion, and the college is also very strong in Biblical studies.
Students in the Joint School of Philosophy and Theology start by studying logic and a selection of philosophical topics like the mind–body problem, free will, knowledge, scepticism, perception, and personal identity. On the theology side of their degree, they begin by studying select books of the Bible, along with a wide-ranging examination of the Christian doctrine of creation. Unlike their counterparts in the Single Honours School of Theology, students in the joint school are not required to study a biblical language. After their first public examination, students divide their time fairly equally between philosophy and theology, though they may lean a little more towards one or the other if they wish. Regardless, Oriel students have many opportunities to pursue their own philosophical and theological interests.
Candidates for places in the joint school of Philosophy and Theology are not required to have backgrounds in particular subjects. All candidates must take the Philosophy Test, normally at their own school or college, in November. Separate registration for this test is required. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for this test.
Typical offer: AAA at A-level (or equivalent). Candidates are required to submit one piece of written work for Theology (no work is required for Philosophy). Work should have been marked in the normal process of school or college work and should be in Religious Studies if studied to A-level (or equivalent). If Religious Studies is not being taken at A-level (or equivalent) then work should be from a related area.