Dr Aled Thomas


I am a specialist in the study of religions and the sociology of religion, with a particular focus on the contemporary and lived realities of minority and ‘new’ religions. I completed my doctorate at the Open University in 2019 on the topic of ‘auditing’ in Free Zone Scientology, and also hold a Masters degree from the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David. I have previously taught students at the Open University and the University of Wolverhampton.

I joined the University of Leeds as Teaching Fellow in 2022.

Research interests

I have a broad range of interests in the study of religion, with a specific focus on exploring religion as an aspect of everyday life. My PhD explored contemporary forms of Scientology in the ‘Free Zone’, considering the ways in which emergent religions transform and transititon in the 21st century, particularly online. My monograph, Free Zone Scientology: Contesting the Boundaries of a New Religion, was published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2021.

Since completing my doctorate, I have been engaged with research projects concerning ‘cult rhetoric’, exploring the ways in which normative cultic language is deployed in hybridised religious/political discourses. This project aims to not only shine a light on how ‘cultic' concepts are currently understood, but also measure the (in)direct impact they have on religious/political structures and individuals. 

I am additionally interested in digital religion and the ways in which people engage with religion in an increasingly meditatized age.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Religious Studies (The Open University, 2019)
  • MA Study of Religions: Religious Experience (University of Wales: Trinity Saint David, 2013)
  • PGCE Secondary Religious Education (Swansea Metropolitan University, 2011)
  • BA (Hons) Religious Studies (Trinity University College Carmarthen, 2010)

Professional memberships

  • British Association for the Study of Religions
  • European Association for the Study of Religions
  • British Sociological Association

Student education

I have the pleasure of teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate students across a variety of subject areas at the University, including research methods in the study of religion, the sociology of religion, religion and gender, and approaches to the academic study of religion. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Religion and Public Life