Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (CertHE)


Understand the beliefs of others and the ways in which those beliefs have shaped society

The Certificate of Higher Education in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics uses philosophy to analyse the nature and truth of religious beliefs and values. Your study will focus on the two religions – Christianity and Islam – which have the greatest number of adherents.

Studying this programme will give you:

  • an introduction to key themes in the study of philosophy, religion and ethics, and address issues of meaning and truth in these areas
  • an understanding of key texts, events, doctrines, theories, interpretations and arguments relating to the study of Philosophy, Religion and Ethics
  • a range of transferable skills, including the ability to select and organise material from a range of sources, represent the views of others with fairness and integrity, and produce clear, well-structured written work - skills which are valuable in many walks of life.
Key dates  
Application deadline 31 October in the year before you intend to sit your first examinations
Registration deadline 30 November
Start studying Study materials are usually available from mid-August
Examinations take place May

Programme structure

The programme consists of 4 modules.

Prestige and career progression

From 1 August 2017, the academic direction for this programme will be provided by the University of London. It was previously provided by Heythrop College, University of London.

The skills you gain are valuable in many walks of life. Theology is useful not only for those working with one of the churches but also for teachers or people in social services or other occupations that are concerned with people and their values.

Flexible study at a reasonable cost

You have 1-5 years to complete the CertHE. Fees are payable as you progress rather than as a single lump sum. The following is an example of University fees for the whole programme of study: £1,990 for the CertHE.

Please note that this example is calculated using current fees for 2017-18. It does not reflect any annual change to fees and assumes that you will complete in the minimum time allowed.


The CertHE in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics comprises 4 modules.


Three modules chosen from

Philosophy of religion (level 4)
Introduction to the New Testament (level 4)
Christian ethics (level 4)

Choose one from the following

Islam (level 5)
Religion and science (level 5)
Study materials

How you study

Distance and flexible learning is an alternative way of obtaining a prestigious qualification at a reasonable cost. You can study at a time and place to suit yourself using the introductory study materials we provide to guide you through the syllabus. When you first register we will provide you with:

  • Subject guides for each module studied
  • Access to online resources and reference materials, including a virtual learning environment (VLE) and the University of London Online Library
  • The Arts Good Study Guide by Ellie Chambers and Andrew Northedge
  • Programme handbook, Student guide and Regulations
  • Past examination papers and Examiners' guidelines.

We also provide all students with a student registration card.


In addition to the materials we provide you will be advised to buy some books, and you may also need to refer to others in a library. These will form an important part of your study. As far as possible, you should consider the facilities available locally to you, and how accessible books are likely to be before registering as an International Programmes student.

Virtual learning environment

The VLE allows you to:

  • access subject guides
  • access the Online Library
  • receive notices and other programme-related information
  • take part in discussions with fellow students in the online forums.


The fees below relate to the 2017-2018 session and are subject to annual review.

Certificate of Higher Education in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics2017-2018
Application fee£ 88
Registration fee£ 834
Examination fee per module£ 267
Continuing registration fee£ 476
Total* £ 1,990
ConvertGBP x 1

Disclaimer: the currency conversion tool is provided to you for convenience only and does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the University of London; the exchange rates are provided dynamically via a third-party source, consequently, the University of London International Programmes is not responsible for their accuracy.

*The total provided above is an example of the total amount of fees payable to the University for the whole programme of study. This example use the current fees, does not reflect any annual changes to fees and assumes completion in the minimum time permitted.

When to pay

The application fee is payable when you make your application. The closing date for applications is 1 October. If your application is successful, you will receive an offer inviting you to register.

The initial registration fee is payable when you register with the University. The closing date for initial registrations is 30 November.

The examination fee is payable when you choose to enter an examination. Examination entries are accepted from mid-December to the closing date of 1 February. Examinations take place in May or June each year.

The continuing registration fee is payable in the second and subsequent years of registration at the time when you complete the continuing registration task each year. The closing date for continuing registration is 1 November.

How to pay

All University fees must be paid in pounds sterling (GBP). The University accepts:

  • Western Union - Quick Pay
  • Credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Electron, JCB)
  • Sterling banker's draft/cheque
  • International money/postal order

Further details are given in payment methods.

Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for:

  • textbooks (this may well be in the region of £300 per year if you are taking four units in one year);
  • tuition costs (if studying at a teaching institution);
  • the fee charged by your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.


Fees are subject to annual revision and typically may be increased by up to 5% per annum. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.



Each module of the Certificate of Higher Education in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics is examined by one three-hour unseen written paper.

You do not have to come to London to take your examinations. Examinations are held once a year in exam centres around the world as well as in London. Examinations overseas are arranged mainly through Ministries of Education or the British Council. You will be charged a fee by your local examination centre (this fee will vary). For further information please see the Assessment and exams section.


Academic Requirements

To be eligible for the Certificate of Higher Education in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics you must:

  • normally* be aged 18 or above by 1 September in the year of registration and
  • have passed the equivalent of at least three separate subjects at UK GCSE/GCE O level (at not less than grade C).

UK GCSE equivalents, including grade requirements can be found at Entrance Qualifications.

*Applications will be considered from applicants who do not meet the normal minimum age requirement for admission. Each application will be considered on an individual basis, and the decision taken at the discretion of the University of London.

A student who successfully completes the Certificate of Higher Education in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics may progress to the Bachelor of Divinity degree or Diploma of Higher Education in Theology with credit, subject to the rules given under Progression within the programme in the Programme Specification and Regulations [pdf, 84pgs, 803KB] for those awards.

Language Requirements

The language of instruction, reading and assessment is English. To succeed on our programmes you need a good level of competence in English. If you doubt your ability in written or spoken English we advise you take a course and test in English language before enrolling on the programme.

Required standard of English

You will usually meet the English language requirement for undergraduate programmes if you:

  • hold a UK GCSE / GCE O level in English at grade C or above
  • have five years secondary schooling taught solely in English or have passed GCE A levels or IB in essay-based subjects
  • have passed an International Foundation programme that permits entry onto a recognised UK bachelor degree
  • hold a full Postgraduate award, or a full first degree or Associate degree taught and examined in English from an institute that is acceptable to the University
  • have passed, within the past three years, an Associate degree, Diploma or Higher Diploma awarded by an acceptable institute / polytechnic / university in Hong Kong, Malaysia or Singapore, or
  • have passed, within the past three years, a test of proficiency in English language from an organisation acceptable to the University.

Where an applicant does not meet the required English language level but believes they can demonstrate the required level for admission the University may, at its discretion, consider the application.

Please note if an applicant satisfies one of the above conditions yet provides evidence of a test of proficiency in English language, awarded within the past three years, which is below the University’s minimum requirements then they will be required to retake such a test before being offered admission.

Computer Requirements

You must have regular access to a computer (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities, and other resources.

To get the most from your studies, your computer should have at least the following minimum specification: 

  • a web browser (the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). This must accept cookies and have JavaScript enabled
  • screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
  • sufficient bandwidth to download documents of at least 2 MB

and the following applications installed:

  • a word processor that reads Microsoft Word format (.doc)
  • Adobe, or other pdf reader.

Certain courses may have addtional requirements, such as:

  • Microphone and speakers
  • software to manage spreadsheets and run macros
  • software for playing mp3 and mp4 files.

* Full mobile access is not available for all programmes.

Academic leaders

Academic leaders

Dr Elizabeth Burns

Elizabeth Burns is Director of the University of London International Programmes in Theology and teaches Philosophy of Religion. From 2003-2008 she was the Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Elizabeth has a BD (specialising in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics) from King’s College London, a PhD from Queens’ College, Cambridge, a PGCE in Post Compulsory Education from Suffolk College, Ipswich, and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


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