Home > Research > Researchers > Linda Woodhead

Current Postgraduate Research Students

Linda Woodhead supervises 1 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

View graph of relations

Professor Linda Woodhead


Linda Woodhead

Lancaster University

County South



Tel: +44 1524 510819

PhD supervision

Happy to consider proposals in the areas of: religion and no religion; contemporary Christianity; cultural and religious change; new forms of ritual practice.


I am an academic (trained in theology and religious studies, then specializing in the empirical study of culture, religion and values) who explores the changing and various ways in which people make their lives and deaths meaningful – both individually and collectively, and by religious and non-religious means. I employ a wide range of methods, ranging from population surveys to immersive fieldwork. The bulk of my work has been on the decline of the churches in the West, and the rise of alternative forms of spirituality and ‘no religion’.


Current research 

  1. The Rise of No Religion. Research in China, Estonia, Ireland, UK, USA
  2. What do we do with ‘redundant’ medieval rural churches? Experiments in new uses. UK, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, 


Research Interests

I was originally educated (at Emmanuel College, Cambridge) in theology and religious studies, but quickly became more interested in the sociological study of religion and culture. I have taught and researched in that area at Lancaster University for over 20 years. 

I have carried out empirical research in Britain, the USA, India, the Philippines and various parts of Europe.

My work is focused on two sides of the same coin: 

  1. The decline (and changing nature) of Christianity and the churches in late-modern societies, particularly in the West. My latest book on this is That was the Church that Was: How the Church of England lost the English People (2016). 
  2. The growth of alternatives - post-Christian and non-religious ways of making sense of life and giving it value and meaning.  My first work on this topic looked at the rapid growth of alternative forms of 'spirituality' (e.g. The Spiritual Revolution, 2005). Today I am more interested in the growth of 'no religion' and the 'nones', and what that means in different parts of the world. 

This has led to an interest in the future of society, culture and religion, and I am Director of the Institute of Social Futures at Lancaster University.

I enjoy communicating research findings through teaching, media work and public debate. 

I am co-founder of the Westminster Faith Debates with Charles Clarke, and I regularly take part on radio and TV discussions of religion and culture. 


Additional Information


2016    That Was The Church, That Was: how the Church of England lost the People of England. With Andrew Brown. London: Bloomsbury.

2016    Religions in the Modern World. (3rd updated and revised edition). Linda Woodhead,Christopher Partridge and Hiroko Kawanami (eds). New York and London: Routledge.

2012    A Sociology of Religious Emotion. With Ole Ris. Oxford: Oxford UniversitY Press.

2014    A Sociology of Prayer. Giuseppe Giordan and Linda Woodhead (eds). Aldershot: Ashgate.

2014    A Very Short Introduction to Christianity. Second edition, fully revised. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 40,000 copies sold;translated into 15 languages.

2013    Prayer in Religion and Spirituality. Giuseppe Giordan and Linda Woodhead (eds). Leiden, Boston: Brill.

2013    The Westminster Faith Debates: Religion in Personal Life (ed.). London: Darton, Longman and Todd.

2013    Everyday Lived Islam in Europe. Nathal Dessing, Nadia Jeldtoft, Jørgen Nielsen and Linda Woodhead (eds). Aldershot: Ashgate. 

2012   Religion and Change in Modern Britain. Linda Woodhead and Rebecca Catto (eds). London: Routledge (2012)

2010   A Sociology of Religious Emotion. With Ole Riis. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2010).

2005   The Spiritual Revolution. Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality. With Paul Heelas. Oxford, UK and Malden, USA: Blackwell, 2005.

2004   An Introduction to Christianity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

2004   Congregational Studies in the UK. Mathew Guest, Karin Tusting and Linda Woodhead (eds). Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004.

2003   Predicting Religion: Christian, Secular and Alternative Futures. Grace Davie, Paul Heelas and Linda Wooodhead (eds). Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003.

2002   Peter Berger and the Study of Religion (ed.) London: Routledge, 2002.

2001   Reinventing Christianity: Nineteenth Century Contexts (ed.) Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001.

1999   Religion in Modern Times. With Paul Heelas. Oxford, UK and Malden, USA:Blackwell, 1999.


Nationally-representative surveys of beliefs and values in GB (with YouGov), 2012-. Results and research reports at http://faithdebates.org.uk/research/


1989    MA Theology and Religious Studies, University of Cambridge, UK

1985    BA Theology and Religious Studies, University of Cambridge, UK (Double First Class Honours)


2014-   Director, Institute of Social Futures, Lancaster University, UK

2006-   Professor of Sociology of Religion, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University, UK 


2016    Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, UK

2014    Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, University of Zurich

2013    MBE (Member of the British Empire), New Year’s Honours 

2009    Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, University of Uppsala


Member of Council (the governing body) of the Economic and Social Research UK (ESRC), (2013-16)

Chair of the Theology and Religious Studies panel for REF 2014 (the national research assessment exercise).

Director of the Religion and Society Research Programme (2007-12). A £12M AHRC/ESRC international research initiative. 


2016    Visiting Professor, Stanford University, USA

2013    Visiting Professor, University of Bern, Switzerland

2016    Visiting Professor, Ateneo de Manila, Philippines

2013    British Council Fellow, University of Indiana, USA

2012    Visiting Professor, University of Hannover, Germany

2010    Visiting Professor, University of Aarhus, Denmark

2009    Visiting ESRC-SSRC Fellow, University of Ottawa, Canada 


£12m – Religion and Society Programme, 2007-12 (Director)

€1.2m ‘VEIL Project: Values, Equality and Differences in Liberal Democracies’, EU FP6(Co-I)


Linda Woodhead and Charles Clarke, A New Settlement: Religion in Schools 2015(18 recommendations for legislative change) http://faithdebates.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/A-New-Settlement-for-Religion-and-Belief-in-schools.pdf

Co-founder of the Westminster Faith Debates www.faithdebates.org.uk  six series of national debates engaging new research on religion and values. 


View all (63) »