University of Chester

Programme Specification
Theology PGDip
2017 - 2018

Postgraduate Diploma


Postgraduate Diploma in Theology [IBC]

University of Chester

Irish Baptist College

Administered from Irish Baptist College (and with residentials)

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Residential and Open,

2 years part-time

5 Years

Annual - September


17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities Theology & Religious Studies

Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and FHEQ (England, Wales & Northern Ireland)

Framework for Qualifications for the European Higher Education third cycle awards

MA Practical Theology Programme Assessment Board/Research Degrees Progression Awards Board

Wednesday 17th May 2017

Why is the programme offered?

We aim to:

  • recognize the value of applying scholarship  to the development on ministry in a range of contexts
  • develop good practice in ministry through producing graduates who can engage in high level, independent reflection and leadership in their chosen field
  • as a pathway to a full MA in Theology


What are the key outcomes of the programme?

 We aim to:

  • facilitate personal growth in ministry through in-depth, independent reflection
  • develop new, innovative and ethically defensible theological and disciplinary perspectives on ministry
  • apply new knowledge to a range on ministry contexts

The student will be able to:

  • demonstrate systematic conceptual understanding that enables the student to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in practical theology
  • make use of a variety of sources of knowledge/evidence and exercise critical judgement in its application

The student will be able to:

  • analyse and synthesise information in such a way that it can be of use to them and others within the context of their professional practice
  • critically evaluate concepts, theories, research findings and other sources of knowledge and make informed judgments about their application in the context of professional practice
  • think critically, to undertake critical self-reflection and to act critically within the context of their professional practice and in such a way that it has advanced their self-understanding as a professional and as a person

The student will be able to:

  • systematically analyse complex issues and to apply their knowledge and understanding to work place contexts
  • demonstrate sound judgements based on evidence and be able to communicate ideas effectively to others

Transferable Professional Skills

A key aspect of the rationale for this programme is about continuing professional development and learning achieved in this context will inevitably have potential for transferability.

Successful candidates will be expected to demonstrate the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional/institutional or equivalent environments. 

The student will be able to:

  • communicate using clear expression, (in written work) with clear conclusions  for specialist & non-specialist audiences as appropriate
  • demonstrate numeracy, for example, in specified forms of research methodology and social scientific analysis
  • use information technology and computer skills (ITC) for data capture, to identify and retrieve material and support research and presentations
  • improve own learning and performance: the threshold assessment criteria (where relevant to modular learning outcomes) assess the independent learning ability and self-evaluation required to continue to advance the student's knowledge and understanding, and  to develop new skills appropriate to a professional context.
  • demonstrate the ability to work with others in specified learning and assessment methods and some ministry contexts

Problem solving: the threshold assessment criteria include assessment of the ability to deal with complex issues both systematically & creatively, & make sound judgements; and (where relevant to modular learning outcomes) collaborative or individual problem-solving, & planning & implementing of tasks appropriate to a professional context.

The structure of the course reflects the structure of the BD & BTh courses and marks progression from them. Students are required to complete the Study Skills module (TH7501), one module from each of the three streams- Biblical Studies (TH7516, TH7517,TH7518) Christian Thought (TH7519, TH7520, TH7521) and Ministry Studies(TH7515,TH7522,TH7523) - and then one module from any of the three streams - and then two other modules from any one of the three streams.

A common model of recruitment is a student with relevant bachelor's degree and updated professional experience and where there is a previous qualification at master's level which enables a successful credit claim for the Study Skills module: this may lead to a shorter pathway. Without such accredited learning, a full-time student can achieve the Postgraduate Diploma in Theology in two years with modules totalling 120 credits.

Where students do not have a relevant bachelor's or master's degree or postgraduate diploma and updated professional experience for an APL claim (of up to 100 credits at level 7) they undertake 100 credits chosen from these modules: 

TH7501 Study Skills (Compulsory - 20 credits)

Study Skills is a short course in the Irish Baptist College and is compulsory for all students in this programme, unless exemption has been awarded by the University of Chester, through a credit claim presented at the time of application. The student is required to reach a requisite standard.

TH7515 Women in Ministry (20 credits)

This module seeks to make students aware of various approaches to gender related theological issues, identify and investigate primary biblical texts relating to Christian women, examine the role of women in the Church and society - Western, global and Northern Irish - and prepare students to engage in research in specific and relevant areas of interest.

TH7516 Leadership in the Pastoral Epistles (20 credits)

This module provides a theological and historical examination of the major issues relating to Christian leadership within the Pastoral Epistles, and explores their relevance to the contemporary context.

TH7517 The Theology of Worship (20 credits)

This module is an examination of worship biblically and historically together with reflection on worship in pastoral practice.

TH7518 Biblical Ethics in Contemporary Context (20 credits)

This module provides the student with a biblical framework for engaging in ethical discussion before going on to examine in a critical way a range of contemporary ethical issues.

TH7519 Reformation Studies (20 credits)

This module provides the student with the opportunity to engage more fully with the theology of the Reformation period and to examine its implications for ministry today.

TH7520 Apologetics (20 credits)

This module provides the student with opportunity to examine approaches to Christian apologetics and to relate this to contemporary issues.

TH7521 Christology Yesterday and Today (20 credits)

This module is an examination of the Christology of selected key theologians and historical/contemporary debates.

TH7522 Preaching in the Contemporary World (20 credits)

An examination and study of the practice of preaching as a relevant vehicle of communicating Christian truth in contemporary society.

TH7523 Mission Studies (20 credits)

This module includes an examination of the historical, biblical and theological backgrounds to missions and their implications for contemporary practice.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
TH7501 7 Study Skills 20 Comp
TH7515 7 Women in Ministry 20 Optional
TH7516 7 Leadership in the Pastoral Epistles 20 Optional
TH7517 7 The Theology of Worship 20 Optional
TH7518 7 Biblical Ethics in Contemporary Context 20 Optional
TH7519 7 Reformation Studies 20 Optional
TH7520 7 Apologetics 20 Optional
TH7521 7 Christology Yesterday and Today 20 Optional
TH7522 7 Preaching in the Contemporary World 20 Optional
TH7523 7 Mission Studies 20 Optional

The target award of Postgraduate Diploma in Theology is available for students achieving at least 120 credits  (including TH7501) at level 7 on the programme.

The interim award of Postgraduate Certificate in Theology is available for students achieving at least 60 credits (including TH7501) at level 7 on the programme

Typically, students will hold a Bachelors degree in a discipline appropriate to study of Postgraduate Theology. Substantial prior professional experience may, in some instances, be acceptable in place of an appropriate degree qualification.   

Applicants shall also satisfy the requirements for English Language, where English is not their first language (IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL 570 (230 computer-based) is the minimum requirement). 

Qualifications and preparedness for postgraduate study will be judged from the application form endorsed by the Irish Baptist College. 

Students with additional needs should declare this at the time of application, and an assessment made by Student Support and Guidance of the University's ability to support these needs. 

Where a candidate might be disadvantaged by not meeting the normal qualification entry criteria, the following (for example) can apply:

  • where the first degree is lower than a 2:1 honours degree and more than 10 years old the following may be taken in its place: other more recent qualifications (or a substantial amount of study) at levels 6 or 7 (e.g. PGCE, Masters) or experience of at least 3 years work at a professional level within the last 5 years
  • Students presenting international qualifications which are not judged to be the equivalent of an Honours degree, would normally be required to undertake and attain a good pass on at least one 7 level module as a condition of entry.

The Theology and Religious Studies Benchmark Statement, published by the QAA in 2000 and revised in 2007 and 2014, details the range of subject knowledge (TRS Benchmark 3.1), the qualities of mind (3.2), and generic skills acquired and developed in TRS degree programmes. The Postgraduate Diploma, as well as providing a pathway for suitable entrants to Master's level work will also act as a stand-alone award. Appendix A of the subject Benchmark Statement indicates that entrants for the Master's programme demonstrate that they are capable of working at the appropriate academic level. (A3.1) The Postgraduate Diploma will help to challenge and develop those skills for students who wish to progress to the Master's award. (A4.4)

The Postgraduate Diploma will  build on and extend the benchmarks developed in TRS BD and BTh degree programmes, and allow the graduate student to specialise in subject areas that will 'take his or her undergraduate expertise to a more advanced level. (A1.1)

The Diploma will equip students with the 'skills necessary to make full use of electronic resources, including primary sources and web-based study tools' (A6.1) beginning initially in the core modules TH7501 where students learn how to utilise these tools which will be further developed in a range of optional modules. 

Students will cover a range of themes and topics within the Christian tradition, whilst learning the importance of critical evaluation and reflection. (A4.1) They will be required to demonstrate an advanced ability to use primary and secondary sources. Optional modules enable students to extend these skills allowing for broadness of scope both in terms of disciplines and theories, and understanding issues of context giving rise to their own theological tradition and that of others.

The [programme will be classroom based and will normally be delivered by means of lectures with seminars and workshops used where appropriate.

A member of staff (normally the programme leader or one of the associate programme leaders) who acts as advisor/personal academic tutor to advise on their progress and to provide pastoral support; and for each module there is a module tutor, or a module co-ordinator

The assessment is by coursework totalling 5,000 words per 20 credit module. In many cases the coursework comprises one long essay or equivalent, but where appropriate to the learning outcomes of the module, it may comprise a combination of shorter pieces, such as a regular journal plus a reflective essay.

    1. All written work is double marked internally, and then by the appointed External Examiner.
    2. The pass mark in all modules is 40%.
    3. When a candidate cannot, through disability, be fairly assessed by the methods prescribed for the course concerned, the University of Chester Module Assessment Board in collaboration with IBC may vary those as they deem appropriate, bearing in mind the aims and learning outcomes of the programme of study and course and the need to assess each candidate on equal terms with other candidates.
    4. In determining the nature of any variation in the methods of assessments, full account must be taken of the University's policies in respect of students with disabilities which are set out in University's Code of Practice.
    5. All  modules within the programme will reside within University regulations for modular provision.

Following the acquisition of this award, students will be equipped to follow a number of related vocational or professional pathways.

The characteristics of each graduate will depend on which optional modules are chosen through the programme. Typically, however, graduates will demonstrate a range of core skills: 

  • An ability to take responsibility for and to attend critically and constructively to their own situation and personal, professional development.
  • Both mature (written and oral) communication skills and an understanding of communication theory that equips responsible, professional adults for a variety of workplace situations.
  • IT skills
  • An ability to critically evaluate abstract concepts and complex sets of data, to appropriately frame questions and problems, identify possible solutions, and make critical judgements on their own and with others.
  • The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility,

Students taking this programme should be aware that they need to be highly self-motivated and self-directed to maintain the necessary momentum to complete the programme successfully.  University support will be provided but the distance learning nature of the programme requires determination from the student and pro-activity in maintaining contact with tutors. 

There will be tutor support for students who would not immediately thrive apart from individual supervision and support.

Students who complete the Postgraduate Diploma and do well in their modules may, further to application and interview, be considered for 60 credit dissertation allowing them to complete the MA in Theology.

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