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Christianity and the University Experience

Christianity and the University Experience in Contemporary England was a groundbreaking, 3-year study conducted collaboratively by academics from the universities of Durham, Derby and Chester. It was one of six awarded funding after 56 proposals for large grants were submitted to the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme, Religion and Youth Scheme.

University is an important stage of personal development, where students’ attitudes and values, including religious ones, can be questioned, abandoned, modified or strengthened. Christians are the largest student faith group, and chaplaincies and other Christian activities have always been present on English university campuses. Nonetheless, there is almost no empirical research on Christianity amongst university students in England. This has now changed, with the publication of this project's findings.

The project took place in two phases: (i) a national survey of undergraduates – including those who see themselves as Christians and those who do not - across a selection of universities across England, and (ii) 5 in-depth case studies, involving qualitative interviews and focus groups with a sample of undergraduate students in 5 English universities.

Our overall aim was to paint a picture of Christianity on the university campus, including the beliefs and values of Christians when compared with non-Christians, the convictions they bring with them to university and those they take from the university context, and how religious identities are affected by experiences of teaching, learning and involvement in social networks. 

Christianity and the University Experience is the first in-depth study of Christianity among undergraduates at English universities and examines not just the religious and moral values of students but also their implications for social difference and cohesion among the student body.