University of Chester

Programme Specification
Theology for Ministry GradDip
2017 - 2018

Graduate Diploma

Theology for Ministry

Theology for Ministry (St John's)

University of Chester

St John's College Nottingham

St John's College Nottingham

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year full time, 2-4 years part time

4 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities Theology & Religious Studies

Theology and Religious Studies

The programme has been accredited by the Ministry Division of the Archbishops' Council of the Church of England as the first stage of an ordination training pathway.


Tuesday 1st June 2010

The Graduate Diploma is designed to provide academic and practical theology appropriate for people preparing for ministry in the Church or for lay people involved in the Church who wish to study applied theology in a confessional context. The Graduate Diploma is distinctive in that it enables graduates in another discipline and with significant experience of Christian ministry to study theology to achieve a level of understanding appropriate to an undergraduate honours degree. Successful completion of the Graduate Diploma allows students to study for the Master of Theology.

Aims of the Programme:

  • to strengthen and increase students’ understanding of the Christian faith, specifically by theological study in the areas of Biblical Studies, Christian Thought & Worship, and Practical Theology;
  • to stretch to the full students’ intellectual capacities, by pressing questions which come from traditional theological disciplines as well as integrative and practical theological questions;
  • to encourage students in the formation of habits of reflection;
  • to encourage the development of ministerial skills, including integration and collaboration, leading worship and pastoral care;
  • to increase students’ understanding of the institution of the Church including its various spiritual traditions and their place within it;
  • to facilitate the integration of the above with the spiritual growth and development of students.

The programme delivers these in the context of the purpose and values of St John's, and within a distinctive educational and formational ethos.

On successful completion of the programme students will have achieved the following outcomes


Knowledge and Understanding

Level 6


Demonstrate detailed knowledge and critical understanding of the subject, with reference to advanced scholarship and with an appreciation of uncertainty and ambiguity (e.g. TH6709, TH6712, TH6749).


Cognitive Skills

Level 6:

Apply a number of complementary methods of study, such as, philosophical, historical, systematic, dogmatic, phenomenological, linguistic, hermeneutical, empirical, speculative, and social scientific; apply these methods to review, consolidate and extend their knowledge and understanding (e.g.TH6709, TH6710, TH6726).

Practical and Professional Skills

Demonstrate an ability to resolve problems and make decisions in contexts involving complexity (e.g. TH6711, TH6712, TH6740).

Communication Skills

Level 6:

Develop projects and assignments which sustain and evaluate an argument largely through independent enquiry, and which draws on a range of scholarly resources including research articles and primary sources (e.g. TH6740, TH6749).

The Graduate Diploma is usually taken over one year full time, or two to four years part time. For students sponsored by Ministry Division, there are two recognised pathways through the Graduate Diploma as detailed below. Specialism and focus are provided in the choice of seminar preparation undertaken by the students, and the particular subjects addressed in the choice of assessment options within each module.

The Ministry Division recognised pathways through the Graduate Diploma are:

1. On -site based route - The following modules are core for full-time Church of England Ordinands:

  • TH6701 New Testament Letters and Revelation
  • TH6702 Old Testament Histories and Law
  • TH6703 Synoptic Gospels and Acts
  • TH6707 Church and Ministry
  • TH6708 Mission and Theology in the Early Church
  • TH6709 Faith Seeking Understanding (From Augustine to Calvin)
  • TH6710 Theology at the bar of reason: Progress or Decline?
  • TH6711 Introduction to Pastoral Care
  • TH6712 Personal and Social Ethics
  • TH6713 Leading Worship
  • TH6714 Methods in Mission and Evangelism
  • TH6740 Critical Approaches in Theology for Ministry

2. Part-time Ordination Pathway

All modules in this route are core.

Year 1 – college-based modules:

  • TH6701 New Testament Letters and Revelation
  • TH6702 Old Testament Histories and Law
  • TH6703 Synoptic Gospels and Acts
  • TH6708 Mission and Theology in the Early Church
  • TH6713 Leading Worship
  • TH6740 Critical Approaches in Theology for Ministry

Year 2 – on-site modules:

  • TH6707 Church and Ministry
  • TH6710 Theology at the bar of reason: Progress or Decline?
  • TH6711 Introduction to Pastoral Care
  • TH6712 Personal and Social Ethics

Year 2 – distance learning module:

  • TH6726 Acts and Mission                                                                                                                                                   or
  • TH6727 A Christian Response to Islam

Employer-engaged activities happen at every stage of the programme, and are integrated into the modules:

  • Programme of visitation, exploration and reflection on different traditions of church and ministry as part of TH6707;
  • Participation in hospital chaplaincy, including training and reflection, as part of TH6711;
  • Structured reflection on ethical issues in students’ former occupation as part of TH6712;
  • Observational placement in a ‘Fresh Expression’ of church (either independent of or as part of the major church placement) as part of TH6714;
  • Major church placement which commences mid-way through the programme, which is explored more fully within the subsequent MTh programme.

Full-time students usually arrange these activities within the local area alongside other students, and in negotiation with the respective module convener. Part-time students located at a distance from the college arrange these activities with the module convener in discussion with the sending diocese (if an ordinand) or supporting church (otherwise). In addition, some of the taught modules require specific employer-engaged activities:

  • Assessment for Biblical Studies modules requires the development of critical thinking and exegetical skills that would be expected to be used in the preparation for preaching and teaching in a ministry context.
  • Assessment for TH6713 Leading Worship requires the preparation and delivery of and reflection on an act (or series of acts) of public worship.

In certain circumstances (eg to satisfy the specific requirements of a sponsoring church) and by prior agreement of the programme lead it may be possible for a student to opt to take module TH6749 Independent Study, instead of two non core 10 credit modules. 

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
TH6701 6 New Testament Letters and Revelation 10 Optional
TH6702 6 Old Testament Histories and Law 10 Optional
TH6703 6 Synoptic Gospels and Acts 10 Optional
TH6704 6 Old Testament Prophets 10 N/A
TH6705 6 New Testament Greek 10 N/A
TH6706 6 Old Testament Hebrew 10 N/A
TH6707 6 Church and Ministry 10 Optional
TH6708 6 Mission and Theology in the Early Church 10 Optional
TH6709 6 Faith Seeking Understanding (From Augustine to Calvin) 10 Optional
TH6710 6 Theology at the bar of reason: Progress or Decline? 10 Optional
TH6711 6 Introduction to Pastoral Care 10 Optional
TH6712 6 Personal and Social Ethics 10 Optional
TH6713 6 Leading Worship 10 Optional
TH6714 6 Methods in Mission and Evangelism 10 Optional
TH6726 6 Acts and Mission 20 Optional
TH6727 6 A Christian Response to Islam 20 Optional
TH6740 6 Critical Approaches in Theology for Ministry 10 Optional
TH6749 6 Independent Study 20 Optional

60 credits at level 6 leads to the award of a Graduate Certificate. 120 credits at Level 6 leads to the award of the Graduate Diploma.

The Graduate Diploma programme has been developed for students who already have a good degree in another subject or equivalent qualification, and some experience of Christian ministry. The normal entry requirement is an Honours degree at class 2.1 or above, or a postgraduate diploma or a professional qualification recognised as being equivalent to an Honours degree. All applicants are required to complete the relevant application form, attend an interview, and provide names of referees. St John's is required to seek references to ensure evidence of personal, professional and educational experiences.

An IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent) is required for students for whom English is not their first language.

In all programmes we take full account of prior learning (APCL) and prior experiential learning (APEL) in the recruitment and selection of students.

The Theology and Religious Studies Benchmark Statement published by the QAA in 2000 and revised Oct 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. These are listed below mapped, illustratively, against modules in the programme.

TRS Benchmark 3.1: subject knowledge

(i) A broadly based core, together with the wider context required for the subject area covered by the programme in question; and specialised study in depth of some aspects of the discipline or field. This implies not just the mastery of data but also the setting of these data within a theoretical framework which includes critical analysis and debate about how to understand and structure the raw data into a coherent whole. All modules.

(ii) One or more religions, ancient or modern, including the origin, history and developed or present character of each. TH6701, TH6702, TH6703, TH6704, TH6707, TH6708, TH6709, TH6710.

(iii) The reading, analysis and interpretation of texts, sometimes in the original languages, particularly texts that have been sacred to one or more practising communities. This study will often focus both on the historical context which generated the text(s) and on hermeneutical questions concerning its meaning and application for the appropriate community of believers in the present, or for other readers today. TH6701, TH6702, TH6703, TH6704, TH6705, TH6706.

(iv) Engagement with some of the major religious thinkers, prophets, teachers, ascetics, mystics, healers or leaders through their extant work or subsequent influence. TH6701, TH6702, TH6703, TH6704, TH6708, TH6709, TH6710, TH6727.

(v) The application of a variety of critical methods of study, often adapted from those of other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, to the study of texts, practices, religious communities as social or cultural entities, or their diverse art forms. All modules.

(vi) The history of the particular discipline(s) covered by the programme, including the major theories, movements and thinkers. TH6707, TH6708, TH6709.

(vii) Ethics, morality and values. All religions have certain expectations in these areas, and the student will include them in the study along with other aspects of the religion. TH6711, TH6712, TH6714, TH6727.


TRS Benchmark 3.2: qualities of mind

  (i) The ability to understand how people have thought and acted in contexts other than the student's own, how beliefs, doctrines and practices have developed within particular social and cultural contexts and how religious traditions have changed over time. TH6708, TH6709, TH6710, TH6711, TH6714.

  (ii) The ability to read and use texts both critically and empathetically, whilst addressing such questions as genre, content, context, perspective, purpose, original and potential meaning, and the effect of translation if the text is not read in the original language. TH6701, TH6702, TH6703, TH6704, TH6705, TH6706.

  (iii) The appreciation of the complexity of different mentalities, social behaviours and aesthetic responses, and of the ways they have been shaped by beliefs and values, and conversely, how beliefs, sacred texts and art forms have been shaped by society and politics. TH6708, TH6709, TH6710, TH6711, TH6713, TH6714.

  (iv) Sensitivity to the problems of religious language and experience, and to issues of multiple and conflicting interpretations of language and symbols, texts and traditions. Simplistic, literalising or doctrinaire explanations are less likely to be advanced by a student of Theology and Religious Studies. All modules

  (v) Appreciation of both the interconnectedness of and internal tensions within a system of beliefs and practices. TH6707, TH6708, TH6709, TH6711, TH6712, TH6713, TH6727.

  (vi) Basic critical and analytical skills; a recognition that statements should be tested, that evidence and arguments are subject to assessment, that the interpreter's role demands critical evaluation. All modules.

  (vii) The ability to employ a variety of methods of study in analysing material, to think independently, set tasks and solve problems. All modules.

  (viii) The capacity to give a clear and accurate account of a subject, marshal arguments in a mature way and engage in debate and dialogue with respect for the opposite case or different viewpoint. All modules.

TRS Benchmark 3.3: generic skills

  The Statement also lists these generic (transferable) skills acquired through the study of Theology and Religious Studies:

  • independence of mind and initiative;
  • capacity for reflexive learning;
  • capacity to modify, suspend or otherwise change position when warranted;
  • ability to gather, evaluate and synthesise different types of information;
  • analytical ability and the capacity to formulate questions and solve problems;
  • presentation skills, both oral and written;
  • IT skills, including word-processing, communicating by email and using the web, accessing information from electronic as well as non-electronic sources;
  • writing skills, including accurate referencing and clarity of expression;
  • ability to attend closely to the meaning of written documents;
  • ability to read texts in a different language.

  The Statement also lists these as skills:

  • empathy and imaginative insight, with a tolerance of diverse positions;
  • self-discipline;
  • ability to attend to others and have respect for others' views;
  • commitment to lifelong learning;
  • teamwork skills;
  • ability to work with others.  

These are developed through the wider philosophy of learning at St John's and specifically through formative learning methods such as class discussion, small group work, class presentations and research. Self-discipline and self direction are developed in the weekly pattern of study involving formative assessment and feedback.

A range of learning and teaching methods is used: lectures, presentations, seminars, group-work activities, language classes, guided reading, placement and reflection on placement experience, workshops, and giving presentations and discussing the presentations of other students. Students have direct access to module tutors and to a personal tutor to guide their learning. As this is a level 6 programme, students are encouraged to take significant level of responsibility for their own learning, both independent and collaborative.

Use of the virtual learning environment in all modules allows: sharing of information; opportunities for discussion groups;  links to videos and other online resources; as well as participation in a wider virtual St John's community.

Our approach to assessment includes the following elements:

  • building on skills and knowledge already acquired from previous (experiential) learning;
  • taking account of the diverse range of learning styles;
  • testing for the relevant learning outcomes;
  • seeing assessment as part of the learning process, not simply a test of learning gained elsewhere;
  • orienting assessment activities towards the context of application of knowledge, understanding and skills gained.

Formative assessment occurs in a range of formal and informal contexts, including feedback in class discussion, group work and presentations, and peer-to-peer learning, as well as in one-to-one conversations with tutors.

Summative assessment over the programme includes essays, text-based studies, exegesis, reflection on prior experience, class tests, participative debate and assessment of performance and reflection on it

The Graduate Diploma is designed to provide academic and practical theology appropriate for people preparing for ministry in the Church or for lay people involved in the Church who want to study applied theology in a confessional context. It can be taken as a programme in its own right, but is also designed as a bridge for graduates from a discipline other than theology into the MTh programme, with which it forms a two-year graduate pathway for ordination training in the Church of England.

Successful graduates of the programme will be reflective practitioners, who deploy the ministry skills gained, aware of the importance of Scripture as foundational for belief and practice, and seeking to make connections in an appropriate way with the realities of the context they are in. They will be committed to discerning the activity of God in this context, and to following God's lead in the direction of their ministry, seeking to deepen their own spiritual lives as they encourage others to do so. They will be confident in their own theological tradition and personal convictions, but be willing to engage with, contribute to and learn from other traditions and other perspectives. They will be committed to the central importance of holistic mission within Christian ministry.

St John's is committed to promoting equal access to all, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and disability. We are particularly concerned to provide support for those with additional learning needs to allow them to attain a level of academic achievement commensurate with their abilities. Issues arising from the diversity of perspectives are explored in a number of modules in the programme. We believe in the richness of community that is created by welcoming the gifts and perspective from as wide a range of Christian experiences as possible.

Since we are a confessional institution, we ask that students respect the values and commitments of the institution, and commit to respecting the values and commitments of our students.

Students who are candidates training for ordained ministry in the Church of England are expected to abide by the moral and ethical commitments of the Church and its expectations of those in public ministry

We are aware that candidates for ordained ministry do not come from as diverse a cross-section of society as we would like. Whilst encouraging the Church to seek greater diversity, we also seek to work in partnership with other groups, for instance the Black-led churches, to create a more representative and diverse learning community.

This programme has classroom-based full-time and part-time pathways

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