University of Chester

Programme Specification
Theology for Ministry FDA
2017 - 2018

Foundation Arts Degree

Theology for Ministry

Theology for Ministry (St John's) Foundation Arts Degree

University of Chester

St John's College, Nottingham

St John's College, Nottingham

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

2 years full time

5 Years

Variable - March - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities Theology & Religious Studies

Subject Benchmark statements for 'Theology and Religious Studies'

The college pathway is accredited by the Ministry Division of the Archbishops' Council of the Church of England as an ordination training pathway.


Tuesday 1st June 2010

This programme and the two pathways through it are designed to provide broadly-based study of academic and practical theology appropriate to people preparing for a range of lay and ordained ministries in both the Church and in the world that is critically aware, mission focussed, and collaborative. The FdA aims to: 

  1. Strengthen and increase students’ understanding of the Christian faith, specifically by theological study in the areas of Biblical Studies, Christian Thought and Worship, and Practical Theology.
  2. Stretch to the full students’ intellectual capacities, by pressing questions which come from traditional theological disciplines as well as integrative and practical theological questions.
  3. Encourage students in the formation of habits of reflection.
  4. Encourage the development of ministerial skills, including integration and collaboration, preaching, pastoral care and teaching.
  5. Increase students’ understanding of the institution of the Church including its various spiritual traditions, and their place within it.
  6. 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:

Level 4

Demonstrate knowledge of key concepts of the disciplines of the programme and an ability to evaluate and interpret them (e.g. TH4709, TH4722)


Level 5

Demonstrate an ability to recognise and relate to one another concepts and cultural influences; and evaluate and interpret these with a recognition of their complexity (e.g. TH5707, TH5710, TH5721, TH5736)

Level 4:

Demonstrate the use of appropriate methods for their studies such as philosophical, historical, phenomenological and empirical; and demonstrate the exercise of an open and questioning approach to familiar and new material (e.g. TH4701, TH4702, TH4716, TH4720, TH4721)


Level 5:

Develop their competence in methods for their studies such as philosophical, historical, systematic, dogmatic, phenomenological. empirical and social-scientific; and evaluate the appropriateness of differnet methods (e.g. TH5706, TH5709, TH5711, TH5720, TH5736)

Level 4:

Evaluate different approaches to solving problems related to the area of study (e.g. TH4708, TH4709, TH4714, TH4722, TH4728)

Level 5:

Demonstrate qualities and generic skills, such as those requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decisions making, necessary for employment (e.g. TH5709,TH5710, TH5712, TH5722, TH5728)

Level 4:

Communicate accurately and demonstrate appropriate use of primary and secondary sources, with full accurate references, within a structured and coherent argument (e.g. TH4701, TH4702, TH4716, TH4720, TH4721)


Formulate a coherent argument with appropriate use of data and evidence, and with awareness of the implications of divergent views (e.g. TH5703, TH5704, TH5718, TH5724)

The Foundation Degree incorporates two main but interrelated pathways based on the primary mode by which students access the programme. The ‘On Site’ pathway is for students who principally access modules through weekly lectures, whereas Distance Learning is for students who principally study through the Extension Studies department. Nevertheless, students may take some modules on the other pathway, and for this reason we have barred equivalent college and distance learning modules. This approach enables maximum flexibility for students in combining their learning with employer engagement. On all pathways the programme works on the basis of 10 hours learning for one credit or 1200 hours learning for each level of study. Modules are organised within three broad streams of Biblical Studies, Christian Thought and Worship (which includes doctrine, liturgy and history), and Practical Theology. Within these streams there are specific opportunities for in-depth focus on specific issues, but also moments of cross-stream integration. Progression within streams and within the programme as a whole is designed to start with areas closest to students' previous experience, and then extend that by introducing additional knowledge and understanding and models of theological and critical reflection, whilst identifying points of connection and application in the elements of employer engagement.

1. On Site-based route

This would normally be taken over two years full time, or up to five years part time, though those using this as a part-time ordination training pathway would normally be expected to complete over four years. Although the particular training needs of students may lead to the substitution of alternative modules, a typical programme for a full-time student in stage 1 would be:

  • TH4701 New Testament Letters and Revelation
  • TH4702 Old Testament Histories and Law
  • TH4703 Synoptic Gospels and Acts
  • TH4707 Church and Ministry
  • TH4708 Mission and Theology in the Early Church
  • TH4709 Faith Seeking Understanding (From Augustine to Calvin)
  • TH4710 Theology at the bar of reason: Progress or Decline?
  • TH4711 Introduction to Pastoral Care
  • TH4712 Personal and Social Ethics
  • TH4713 Leading Worship
  • TH4714 Methods in Mission and Evangelism
  • TH4716 Beginning to Study Theology

Full-time students would normally complete a short placement in a non-church context. This provides a significant point of integration and application, and connects issues of critical and theological reflection. Allowing again for the need to substitute alternative modules based on particular training needs, in stage 2 such students typically take the following modules:

  • TH5702 Writings of the Hebrew Bible
  • TH5703 Romans and James in Greek or English
  • TH5704 Biblical Narrative
  • TH5706 Beyond enlightenment: modern theology and modern mission
  • TH5707 Theology after modernity: Shaking the foundations
  • TH5708 Understanding Anglicanism
  • TH5709 Living Sacraments
  • TH5710 Mission and Pastoral Studies
  • TH5711 Faith, Formation and Discipleship
  • TH5712 Preparation and Practice of Preaching
  • TH5701 Mark and John

Students who have attained a requisite level of Greek or Hebrew may, in their second year take TH5705 Continuing Greek in place of TH5719 'Mark' or TH5716 'Continuing Hebrew' in place of TH5702 'Writings of the Hebrew Bible' respectively. 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 TH4707
  • Participation in hospital chaplaincy, including training and reflection, as part of TH4711
  • Structured reflection on ethical issues in students’ former occupation as part of TH4712
  • Observational placement in a ‘Fresh Expression’ of church (either independent of or as part of the major church placement) as part of TH4714
  • Major church placement during both stages of the programme, providing the context for exploration of issues arising from TH5710, and providing the context for practice and assessment related to TH5712.

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, most of the taught modules require specific employer-engaged activities:

  • Assessment for TH5701 Mark and John requires reflection on the elements of critical study needed in the development of teaching material, which can then subsequently be used in the ministry context.
  • Assessment for other 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 TH5711 Faith, Formation and Discipleship requires the preparation of actual teaching sessions and a sample of them, which can then subsequently be used in the ministry context.
  • Assessment for TH4713 Leading Worship requires the preparation and delivery of and reflection on an act (or series of acts) of public worship.
  • Assessment for TH5712 Preparation and Practice of Preaching requires the preparation and delivery of and reflection on two sermons delivered in the placement context.
  • Assessment for TH5709 Living Sacraments requires reflection on the practice of sacramental theology within a ministry context.
  • Assessment for TH5710 Mission and Pastoral Studies requires theological reflection on a specific aspect of the student’s placement experience.

2. Distance learning route

This would normally be taken over three years in stage 1 and 2 years in stage 2. Most students will already have significant lay ministry commitments either in their local church or within the workplace, and might also be in other employment, and so have considerable demands on their time alongside their study. The programme consists of core elements across the areas of Biblical Studies, Christian Thought and Worship, and Practical Theology, and optional modules designed to give flexibility corresponding to the different areas of ministry that students might be involved in. This programme is taken on this pathway both as equipping for current ministry but also as exploration of vocation for future ministries, and so this pathway has specific elements on vocational discernment, spirituality and journaling which are not included in the college-based route. The core elements at stage 1 and 2 are:

  • TH4720 New Testament Introduction
  • TH4721 Old Testament Introduction
  • TH4722 The Early Church and the Creeds
  • TH4723 Theological Reflection
  • TH5720 Using the Bible Today
  • TH5721 Exploring the Matrix of Christian Theology
  • TH5722 Human Care
  • TH5723 Journal and Reflection

The elective modules are as follows, and are chosen in order to add up to 120 credits at each level:

  • TH4724 Anglicanism
  • TH4725 Ecumenical Studies
  • TH4726 Vocation
  • TH4727 Introduction to Spirituality
  • TH4728 Church and Ministry
  • TH4729 Personal and Social Ethics
  • TH5718 Amos and Micah
  • TH5724 Romans
  • TH5725 The Holy Spirit and the People of God
  • TH5726 Common Worship
  • TH5727 Christians in the Workplace
  • TH5728 Adult Education
  • TH5729 Preparation and Practice of Preaching
  • TH5730 Leadership and Teamwork
  • TH5731 Transforming Conflict in Church and Society
  • TH5733 Leading Worship
  • TH5736 Personal and Social Ethics
  • TH5740 Psalms

Stage 1 (level 4) modules would normally be completed up to 120 credits before students commence stage 2 (level 5) modules. For each module, students are allocated a distance learning tutor for support, to provide feedback on formative assessment tasks, to mark summative assignments, and to facilitate reflection on the application of the module content within the student’s ministry context. Students are also allocated a pastoral tutor, with whom they can discuss pastoral and vocational issues, by telephone, email or through tutorials at St John’s. Employer engagement is embedded within the content of the module teaching material, including ministry activities, reflective tasks, and formative assessment. In order to allow for further reflection, application to ministry contexts, and to enable peer-to-peer learning and reflection, students are also encouraged to attend short residential periods at the college.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
TH4701 4 New Testament Letters and Revelation 10 Optional
TH4702 4 Old Testament Histories and Law 10 Optional
TH4703 4 Synoptic Gospels and Acts 10 Optional
TH4704 4 Old Testament Prophets 10 N/A
TH4705 4 New Testament Greek 10 N/A
TH4706 4 Old Testament Hebrew 10 N/A
TH4707 4 Church and Ministry 10 Optional
TH4708 4 Mission and Theology in the Early Church 10 Optional
TH4709 4 Faith Seeking Understanding (From Augustine to Calvin) 10 Optional
TH4710 4 Theology at the bar of reason: Progress or Decline? 10 Optional
TH4711 4 Introduction to Pastoral Care 10 Optional
TH4712 4 Personal and Social Ethics 10 Optional
TH4713 4 Leading Worship 10 Optional
TH4714 4 Methods in Mission and Evangelism 10 Optional
TH4716 4 Beginning to Study Theology 10 Optional
TH4720 4 New Testament Introduction 20 Optional
TH4721 4 Old Testament Introduction 20 Optional
TH4722 4 The Early Church and The Creeds 20 Optional
TH4723 4 Theological Reflection 10 Optional
TH4724 4 Anglicanism 10 Optional
TH4725 4 Ecumenical Studies 10 Optional
TH4726 4 Vocation 10 Optional
TH4727 4 Introduction to Spirituality 10 Optional
TH4728 4 Church and Ministry 20 Optional
TH4729 4 Personal and Social Ethics 20 Optional
TH5701 5 Mark and John 10 N/A
TH5702 5 Writings of the Hebrew Bible 10 Optional
TH5703 5 Romans and James in Greek or English 10 Optional
TH5704 5 Biblical Narrative 10 Optional
TH5705 5 Continuing Greek 10 Optional
TH5706 5 Beyond enlightenment: modern theology and modern mission 10 Optional
TH5707 5 Theology after modernity: Shaking the foundations 10 Optional
TH5708 5 Understanding Anglicanism 10 Optional
TH5709 5 Living Sacraments 10 Optional
TH5710 5 Mission and Pastoral Studies 20 Optional
TH5711 5 Faith, Formation and Discipleship 10 Optional
TH5712 5 Preparation and Practice of Preaching 10 Optional
TH5713 5 Church and Ministry 10 N/A
TH5714 5 Faith seeking understanding (from Augustine to Calvin) 10 N/A
TH5716 5 Continuing Hebrew 10 N/A
TH5718 5 Amos and Micah 20 Optional
TH5719 5 Mark 10 Optional
TH5720 5 Using The Bible Today 20 Optional
TH5721 5 Exploring the Matrix of Christian Theology 20 Optional
TH5722 5 Human Care 20 Optional
TH5723 5 Journal and Reflection 10 Optional
TH5724 5 Romans 20 Optional
TH5725 5 The Holy Spirit and the People of God 20 Optional
TH5726 5 Common Worship 20 Optional
TH5727 5 Christians in the Workplace 20 Optional
TH5728 5 Adult Education 10 Optional
TH5729 5 Preparation and Practice of Preaching 10 Optional
TH5730 5 Leadership and Teamwork 10 Optional
TH5731 5 Transforming Conflict in Church and Society 10 Optional
TH5733 5 Leading Worship 10 Optional
TH5735 5 Pastoral Care and Christian Ministry 10 N/A
TH5736 5 Personal and Social Ethics 10 Optional
TH5740 5 Psalms 10 Optional
TH5741 5 Issues in Studying Theology for Ministry 10 N/A

120 credits at Level 4 leads to the award of a Certificate of Higher Education
240 credits including 120 credits at Level 5 leads to the award of the Foundation Degree


Ordinands or other sponsored students follow all programme regulations as described in section 24.a above.

Students admitted to the programmes are normally over 21, though the distance learning pathway may be entered at 18. Students must either be sponsored ordinands of the Church of England or satisfy standard university matriculation requirements (for example, two passes at A level) or satisfy the College’s Admissions Committee of their ability to work at the required academic level, in the last case subject to report to the appropriate Faculty Board. All applicants are required to complete the relevant application form, attend an interview (for distance learning applicants this may take place by telephone or other means), 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 (APL) and prior experiential learning (APEL) in the recruitment and selection of students.

The programme matches the FHEQ benchmark for Foundation Degrees in the characteristics of:

Employer Involvement

The modules in each of the pathways are highly employer-engaged in their content and assessment, as outlined in the explanation of structure above. Supervision of students in placement contexts in each pathway forms a significant partnership between St John's and the various ministry contexts students are in, and training in placement skills for supervisors often happens both as a contribution of St John's to the ministry context and as a partnership, for instance dovetailing with diocesan supervision training strategies.


The desire to integrate full-time, part-time and distance learning routes has been driven by the concern to make training as flexible and accessible as possible. The programme can also be accessed by students who have studied on the college's open-access distance learning programme, from which there is a commitment to granting APCL and APEL. Many participants in the programme on routes other than full-time college based will be in significant lay ministry, and their participation has benefits both for St John's and for their ministry contexts.

Articulation and progression

Admissions to the FdA are guided by the commitment to recognising APL and APEL. Graduates of the programme are encouraged to progress to the BA top-up or MA in Mission and Ministry as appropriate, and for those on the Extended Mixed Mode route, this is seen as an integral part of their training.


The interchange of flexible pathways, with students offered the possibility of transferring from taught routes to distance learning routes and vice versa, is a particular goal of bringing together these pathways into a single flexible award, which we believe to be unique in this country.


Although the major partner in ordination training has been the Church of England, different elements of the FdA have been used as agreed training in partnership with a range of local churches (including the Black-led churches in the area), as Reader training in a number of dioceses, and in Anglican churches abroad as well as with other denominations.

Knowledge, understanding and skills

The Theology and Religious Studies Benchmark Statement published by the QAA in 2000 and revised for 2007 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 some of the 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. TH4701, TH4702, TH4703, TH4704, TH4707, TH4708, TH4709, TH4710.

(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. TH4701, TH4702, TH4703, TH4704, TH4705, TH4706

(iv) Engagement with some of the major religious thinkers, prophets, teachers, ascetics, mystics, healers or leaders through their extant work or subsequent influence. TH4701, TH4702, TH4703, TH4704, TH4708, TH4709, TH4710, TH5718.

(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. TH4707, TH4708, TH4709.

(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. TH4711, TH4712, TH4714.

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. TH4708, TH4709, TH4710, TH4711, TH4714.

(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. TH4701, TH4702, TH4703, TH4704, TH4705, TH4706, TH5702, TH5703 TH5701.

(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. TH4708, TH4709, TH4710, TH4711, TH4713, TH4714.

(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. TH4707, TH4708, TH4709, TH4711, TH4712, TH4713.

(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.

For taught modules, 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, guided reading, 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.

Students following the distance learning option work with programmed learning materials, including workbooks and interactive DVDs. Tutor support is primarily through telephone and email, and students have local mentors or supervisors for certain aspects of the programme, including practical projects, theological reflection and skills development. Further support is also available from St John's and all students are allocated a pastoral tutor based at college.  Short residential events provide opportunities to experience face-to-face learning as above.

Use of the virtual learning environment in taught modules and distance learning 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, assessment of performance and reflection on it, and integrative placement report.

The Foundation Degree 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 an award in its own right, or as preparation for completing the BA in Theology for Ministry or (in the case of graduates in another discipline), the MA in Mission and Ministry. Different routes through the college programme form accredited pathways 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 with 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 in 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, as well as distance learning pathways. For college-based routes, admission is in September. For distance learning routes, admission is in September and March.


Back - to previous page  Print - launches the print options panel