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Cambridge Interfaith Programme


How does CIP relate to undergraduate study at the Faculty of Divinity?


A main focus of the Cambridge Interfaith Programme is the study of Theology, Religion and the Philosophy of Religion in the context of ‘inter-faith’. This can mean looking at the ways in which one can learn more about a religious tradition by studying how it has interacted with or responded to other religious traditions.

We explore how studying religious traditions in relation to one another can give a perspective that differs from studying a religious tradition on its own. We look into the historical, textual, material and conceptual engagements between religious traditions, as well as the intertwined lives of religious communities in different social and political contexts.


In addition to this study of inter-faith relations, we also look at the ways in which we can understand a religious tradition by looking at it in a wider sense of ‘inter-’ – that is, not just its relation to other religious traditions, but its relation to other cultures, world-views or social forces. This type of ‘inter-’ can be thought of in terms of ‘interface’.

We could examine a religious tradition in its interface and interaction with modern science; or the way in which a minority religious group might interface with a more dominant majority culture. We can study the interface between religious ideas and the genres of novels or film; or the interface between religion, theology and politics. We can investigate how religious traditions have been reshaped through interfacing with various philosophical systems, or the interface between the ideas of ‘religious’ and ‘secular’.

In all of these cases, the approach of ‘inter-’ can shed new light on the texts, contexts, and ideas being studied.

Undergraduate study

In the first year, students typically take one language paper plus four additional papers, and in the second and third years, students typically take four papers. Students select papers from those offered by the Faculty of Divinity.

These include various papers that prominently incorporate aspects of the ‘Inter-’, both in the specific sense of inter-faith and in the wider sense of interface. (The details vary from year to year.)

Here are some examples:

Part I (first year)

A4: Christianity and the Transformation of Culture | Study key periods and issues in the interaction of Christianity with culture.

A6: Understanding Contemporary Religion | Learn how social scientists analyse and account for religion as a social force.

A7: Studying World Religions: History, Comparison, Dialogue | Examine how the worlds’ major religious traditions came to encounter one another in the modern age.

Part IIA (second year)

B3: The Shaping of Jewish Identity (332 BCE – 70 CE) | Examine the social, historical and political contexts in which ancient Jews shaped their identity, and fashioned literature and beliefs.

B7: Themes in World Christianities: Context, Theology and Power | Gain an overview of the global shift of Christianity away from the West.

B9: Religious encounter | Explore how individuals and communities experience, negotiate and manage religious difference.

B12: Themes in the Anthropology of Islam | Discover the academic and political context for the study of Islam and Muslims. Taught in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

B13: Theology & Literature | Examine how theological and ethical issues in European and American literary tradition are shaped by Judaism and Christianity.

B14: Modern Judaism: Thought, Culture, and History | Explore contemporary issues—including Messianism, Shabbat, and Zionism—alongside the historical developments that shaped them.

B15: Introduction to Islam | Study the origins, development and contemporary situation of theology, law and mysticism in Islam. 

B16: Life and thought of religious Hinduism and of Buddhism | Form a sensitive understanding of Indian traditions, approached thematically. 

Part IIB (third year)

C2: The Five Scrolls | Approach Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations and Esther in their Jewish liturgical alignment.

C5: Charity | From the historical development of theologies of love to their contemporary expression in charities and NGOs.

C8: The Jewish Tradition and Christianity: from Antiquity to Modernity | Christianity evolved in intimate discussion with Judaism, but how far can the same be said vice-versa?

C9: Islam II | Consider notions of canon, authority and unbelief pre-1300, and disputes about Greek influence; and study medieval Sufism and theories of knowledge.

C10: Hinduism and Buddhism II | From the scope and use of language in constructing and understanding our systems of reality to the nature of human suffering, compassion and fulfilment.

C11: Truth, God and Metaphysics | Learn to argue rationally and convincingly between alternative positions, and to evaluate key sources from different periods and idioms.

C12: Theology and the Natural Sciences |  Consider accounts of ‘creaturehood’ from the perspectives of the biological sciences and from theological traditions.

C19: Self and Salvation in Indian and Western Thought | A ‘comparative’ exercise across Indian and Western worldviews.

C22: Philosophy, Ethics and the Other | What is the significance of ‘the other’ for understanding one’s own moral and intellectual life?

C24: World Christianities: Decolonising Christendom. The complex legacies of global Christianity. | Explore how Christians in various parts of the world engage with power structures, inequalities and inherited legacies.

D1e: Philosophy in the Long Middle Ages

D2b: Apocalypse

D2c: Judaism and Western Philosophy

D2d: Judaism and Hellenism

D2e: World Christianities - Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianities Worldwide

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