Subject Benchmark Statements for 'Theology and Religious Studies' (drawn up with reference to benchmark but with level-related adjustment)
Theology and Religious Studies
Tuesday 12th January 2016
The programme aims to:
Provide children’s workers and others involved in parish ministry with knowledge and understanding in the areas of biblical interpretation, Christian worship and child development, enabling them to build self-reflective skills and enhanced critical analysis of their own ministerial context.
Develop an appreciation of and a professional attitude towards the church's work with children including up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding practice.
Employ and encourage sound adult educational processes appropriate to the Christian tradition.
Enhance understanding of learning within the Church as a life-long process.
Enable all participants to make an informed contribution to their chosen field of work.
Highlight the role and insights of biblical scholarship and their relevance to children’s work.
Highlight the relevance of recent work in child development and its application to ministerial work with children.
Critically evaluate current approaches to children's ministry for their appropriateness and effectiveness.
Demonstrate knowledge of key concepts of the disciplines of the programme and an ability to understand and evaluate them (e.g. TH4100, TH4101).
Demonstrate the use of theological reflection and other 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. TH4101, TH4102)
Apply learning to personal and/or ministerial practice, evaluating the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems related to their areas of study and ministry (e.g. TH4102).
Participate in facilitated group discussion and exegesis, reflecting on and interacting with the ideas and arguments of others (e.g. TH4101).
Communicate accurately and demonstrate appropriate use of primary and secondary sources, with full and accurate references, within a structured and coherent argument (e.g. TH4101, TH4102).
Use information technology to identify and retrieve material and support presentations effectively in ways appropriate to their intended audience (e.g. TH4100).
This programme provides foundations for children's ministry and seeks to widen access for students to study this discipline. The key methodology is theological reflection on experience.
Students study three compulsory modules at Level 4, each worth 20 credits:
TH4100: Understanding Childhood
TH4101: The Bible and Children
TH4102: Children and Worship
These modules are taught in sequence, with the content and methodology of each building on the previous modules. Knowledge and understanding in childhood development from TH4100 is used in evaluating appropriate ways to use the Bible with children in TH4101. The learning from both modules is then further critically applied to the wider context of engaging with children in worship in TH4102. In their practice, students progress from observing activities with children to planning and then leading activities.
The programme is open access; anyone who would benefit from the study may join the programme. This is assessed at interview. There are no formal entry requirements. An enhanced DBS check is required.
The design, structure and content of this programme have been informed by the QAA Theology and Religious Studies Benchmark Statement published in 2000 and revised in 2007 and 2014. This has been applied as appropriate to a programme leading to a level 4 award only.
In keeping with the benchmark statements on subject knowledge and skills (3.1), the core subject area of Christian children’s ministry is studied in wider contexts e.g. of children’s worlds (TH4100) and Christian worship (TH4102). This includes a historical view of the development of aspects of Christian worship and current practice (TH4102). Data is explored critically within theoretical frameworks e.g. from child development studies (TH4100) and biblical interpretation (TH4100).
The reading, analysis and interpretation of biblical texts is studied, exploring hermeneutical questions in their use in contexts which include children (TH4100). Throughout the programme students apply critical methods to study of current Christian practices, especially through placements and reflection on their own contexts (all modules). Also in keeping with the benchmark statements, consideration of ethics and values underpins this practical programme e.g. in consideration of the place of children in the church communities and in listening to children’s views (TH4102).
Reflecting the benchmark standards on knowledge and understanding (5.4), students are equipped to engage intelligently with varied expressions of Christian tradition reflected in the student group and beyond. Assessments require them to evaluate and critically analyse a diversity of primary and secondary sources (e.g. TH4101).
All modules on this programme cultivate empathy, critical analysis, self-reflectiveness and appreciation of complexity within Christian belief and tradition, in keeping with the benchmark statements on qualities of mind developed through TRS (3.2). Practical tasks require students to think independently and solve problems (e.g.TH4102) and to present ideas clearly in dialogue with different viewpoints (e.g. TH4102).
Generic skills set out in the benchmark statements (3.4) are developed through the programme’s assessments, e.g. self-discipline and direction, teamwork (especially TH4100), writing with clarity and presentation skills (all modules). Media literacy is developed, starting with the first assessment task (TH4100). Learning methods employed, including group activities and placement visits, also develop the capacity for students to develop critical self-awareness of their own views and experiences by engaging with a diversity of others. (See benchmark standards 5.6.)
A range of learning and teaching methods are used: seminars, workshops, group discussion and theological reflection, individual and group-centred projects, placement visits and tutorials. For each module these are primarily delivered through three Saturday sessions, three Monday evenings and two placement visits. The key methodology is developing theological reflection related to experience.
On this level 4 programme, learning is predominantly tutor-designed and guided. Students are supported in developing individual initiative and collaborative enquiry within this framework. Students' learning is supported by the provision of a book box including resources relevant to the programme in addition to access to the University’s online and other learning resources.
Students are inducted into different forms of assessment at level 4 in a range which responds to their different learning preferences, prepares them for the standard forms of graduate assessment, and offers some opportunities for creative and applied forms of assessment.
At level 4, students are given formative experiences within the module or programme for any type of summative assessment they will encounter at that level. Assignment proposal forms are used for all essays and for some other forms of assessment. These are used in initial negotiation of topic and resources, for title agreement, and for supervising the development of the analysis and argument.
Each module is assessed through two assignments. These provide a progression of practical skills and growing independence of study and responsibility in practice through the programme:
TH4100: presentation on children’s cultures (1500 words); observation of children’s activities (2500 words).
TH4101: essay on biblical genre (1500 words); planning a session using the Bible with children (2500 words)
TH4102: research into children’s views on an aspect of worship (1500 words); designing and leading an act of worship (2500 words).
While the majority of students undertake this programme to equip them for voluntary roles, it can also be an ingredient in preparing for employed Christian children’s ministry and for wider Christian ministry roles.
Successful students will be able to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems related to Christian children's ministry; communicate the results of their study/work accurately and reliably and with structured and coherent arguments; undertake further training and develop new skills of children's ministry; and will have qualities and transferable skills necessary for ministry requiring the exercise of some personal responsibility.
The programme can provide an accessible first experience of Higher Education or of theological study, preparing students for further study at this level within TRS or in fields relating to childhood.
This programme flags the department's commitment to widening access in that there are no previous academic qualifications required for entry.
Modules in the programme offer opportunities for addressing questions of gender, sexuality, race and religious identity. Pastoral and ministerial modules and projects may additionally address issues of age and disabilities. There are no confessional requirements for entry to or success in the programme.
The TRS department actively and successfully addresses the University priorities regarding admissions, widening access and participation, equal opportunities and AP(E)L; and it offers individual academic support to all its students.
This programme is delivered by the Diocese of Chester working in association with the Diocese of Manchester.
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