The programme consists of three phases:
Level 7 - Research preparation & Reflection on the practice of ministry
Level 8 - Researching the practice of ministry
Level 8 - Thesis
A part-time student with a relevant master’s degree and appropriate professional experience who makes a successful credit claim for the Level 7 modules would be eligible for exemption from these modules. Such students would then be expected to complete the Level 8 modules in 18 months and to complete the Level 8 DMin thesis within the following four years.
Part-time students commencing the course without exemptions at Level 7 will normally require six years (maximum seven years) to complete the Doctor of Ministry programme.
Research Preparation & Reflection on the Practice of Ministry
Where students do not have a relevant master’s degree or postgraduate diploma and sufficient professional experience for exemptions at level 7, they undertake three compulsory 20 credit modules plus a further three optional 20 credit modules. All of the modules taken require students to engage in critical theological reflection upon their own professional practice. These modules offer students resources for enhancing their reflection on practice through a critical engagement with a range of theological subjects and other disciplines relevant to Christian ministry.
Each module is introduced by a short residential study programme at Spurgeon's College, and specially designed open learning materials help support students’ independent study during each module. Work for each assignment, and reflection on the detailed feedback provided on each assignment, contribute to students’ research training, helping them develop the range of research skills required in the DMin Thesis.
Students are required to complete a Researcher Development Framework upon commencement of study and review it at regular intervals thereafter.
Level 7 Compulsory modules (3 x 20 credits)
TH7124 Theological Reflection
Conscious of the diversity of approaches to theological reflection, the module examines biblical and theological foundations for the practice of theological reflection. It considers both the nature of theological reflection, and resources needed for effective reflection. The module examines a number of reflection models, evaluating their relevance within the context of Christian ministry, and encourages students to become ‘reflective practitioners’.
TH7125 Ministry & Mission in Contemporary Society
The module explores some biblical and theological foundations for a holistic understanding of mission. It examines ways in which the Church’s understanding of mission has developed, and considers some contemporary approaches. It explores the dynamic interaction between the Christian Gospel and culture, and considers the implication of this for mission in various contexts.
TH7126 Research Methods
The module considers a variety of research skills required by postgraduate study in theology. It examines and critically evaluates a range of research methods currently being employed in different theological disciplines. Students will consider a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods, paying particular attention to issues relating to data gathering, recording and analysis.
Level 7 Optional modules (3 x 20 credits)
Three modules are chosen from the following list, which provides a sample of the Level 7 modules currently available.
This module provides an opportunity for experiential learning, whereby students reflect upon the experience of working in a supervised placement alongside an experienced chaplain. Students will normally spend the equivalent of a day a week, during one semester, working under supervision within an established chaplaincy team.
TH7128 Christian Leadership
This module is concerned with Christian Leadership in general, with emphasis on leadership in a local church setting. Eight themes are explored in the module: Leadership and Theology; Spirituality; Vision; Team; Culture; Motivation; Change and Mentoring.
TH7129 Christian Spirituality
The module explores different areas of spiritual practice. Each area will be considered from the stand-point of current thought and practice and where appropriate from traditional teachings of the various streams of the church. Participants will consider the process of spiritual growth including the understanding of this in the evangelical, catholic and orthodox traditions. The characteristics of ‘desert experiences’ and their place in the spiritual life will be explored. Participants examine the practice of spiritual direction and its role in the local church, including the place of discernment. Social and emotional influences on spirituality will be considered, including the role of personality and its influence on styles of spirituality.
TH7130 Contemporary Theologies of Mission
The module critically examines biblical foundations for a theology of mission, and assesses the development of mission paradigms during the history of the Christian church. It considers various trends in mission thinking in the post-war period and explores the rapid growth of the church in the Global South, engaging critically with the insights of selected theologians from the Two Thirds World. These developments are evaluated in the context of mission history. The module explores missiological issues relating to Christianity’s relationship with people of other faiths.
TH7131 Ethics and the Christian Community
The module explores the distinctive nature of Christian ethics and some of the issues confronting and challenging the contemporary church, placing this discussion in an explicitly theological context. The module offers resources which encourage reflection upon the theological appropriateness of various ethical responses to specific issues arising within the specific Christian community where they are engaged in ministry.
TH7132 Preaching – Theology and Practice
The module explores different approaches to the preaching task and considers some of the theological foundations for the practice of preaching. Reflection upon the nature of preaching identifies resources for responding to some of the current criticisms of the practice of preaching. The module introduces students to recent developments in the theory and practice of preaching, especially the inductive, narrative and form-sensitive approaches which are often described as the ‘new homiletic’. It also considers some key issues in contemporary hermeneutics which affect the ways in which Scripture is used within preaching.
TH7133 The Gospel and Film
The module provides a critical introduction to contemporary film studies. It examines and evaluates different ways in which theologians are seeking to understand films both as revelatory and as objects for Christian critique and engagement. It thus provides an opportunity to examine selected films in depth, with a view to exploring their potential in the engagement with theology and the gospel. The module encourages a critical discussion of the way in which film may inform the art of Christian communication. It also explores practical ways in which films, or extracts from them, may be incorporated in Christian communication.
TH7134 Historical roots of contemporary preaching
The module examines approaches used by some influential preachers from at various stages of church history. It discusses ways of preaching and theoretical conceptions of the task from significant periods of church history. The module also seeks to compare the role of preaching within different contemporary denominational traditions. Having provided this historical framework, the module offers students an opportunity to investigate in depth how a preacher or movement from the past, or knowledge of a particular denomination’s tradition (one’s own or another) in the present, may helpfully enrich one’s own practice of preaching today.
TH7135 Interpreting biblical narrative for preaching.
The module provides an introduction to the field of narrative studies and the tools of narrative criticism, demonstrating their applicability to the work of interpreting the Bible. In addition an exploration of narrative theology offers a foundation for critically evaluating its relevance to preaching. The module discusses some representative biblical texts in the light of narrative criticism and narrative theology. It provides an opportunity to study a short narrative book (e.g. Ruth, Jonah) or series of texts (e.g. the parables of Jesus) in depth, with a view to developing creative and appropriate approaches to preaching on them.
TH7136 Narrative Structures for Preaching
The module offers a critical examination of the rationales offered for narrative preaching and the critiques that have been made of it. It discusses the variety of narrative patterns that have been advocated and adopted for preaching by a range of preachers and writers in recent years. The module encourages critical reflection on a range of narrative sermons which illustrate different approaches to narrative preaching. It provides students with an opportunity for a creative exploration of the potential for the use of narrative approaches to preaching within the student’s professional context.
TH7137 Preaching in Contemporary Worship and Mission
This module provides a theological overview of the place of preaching within corporate worship. It offers a critical examination of contemporary trends in thinking about mission, including but not limited to those associated with the ‘emerging Church’ movement. This provides a basis for a discussion of how these trends affect the conception and practice of corporate worship and therefore the traditional conception and practice of preaching. The module engages in a critical evaluation of the way in which cross-cultural mission and worship affects the role and task of the preacher. It explores specific ways in which the practice of preaching in the student’s own church may be enriched and adjusted in the light of a renewed understanding of both worship and mission.
TH7138 Preaching – Personal & Corporate Aspects
The module provides an overview of theological reasons for the importance of considering the personal and corporate dimensions of preaching. This provides a basis for an exploration of the relevance of tools, such as the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, as aids to understanding the personal dimensions of preaching and listening. It includes an examination of the significance of gender in preaching and listening to sermons. The module encourages a critical survey of different forms of co-operation between preacher and listeners. It provides students with an opportunity to explore creative possibilities for developing their relationship, as preachers, with the congregation.
TH7139 The Gospel and Contemporary Thought and Culture
The module examines the concept of a shift from ‘modern’ to ‘postmodern’ ways of thinking, the critique that the latter offer to the former, and what they do (and do not) put in its place. It engages in an analysis of key trends in contemporary Western cultures, and provides students with an opportunity to consider the work of a recent or contemporary secular thinker in depth. The module also offers the opportunity to consider a representative figure or product of a specific contemporary cultural form in depth, e.g. in the field of film, literature, music or visual art. It considers principles upon which the gospel may be related to secular thought and examines some specific theological responses to current trends. The module engages in critical reflection upon the relationship of Christ/the church and culture and of some specific Christian responses to current cultural trends. The module explores the implications of these issues both for homiletics and for other forms of Christian communication.
TH7141 Contemporary Issues in Theology
The module focuses on three contemporary challenges to orthodox Christian belief – atheism, pluralism and changing notions of truth - seeking to deepen an understanding of their origins within a wider historical and cultural context. Particular attention is given to the rise of the so-called ‘new atheism’, contrasting this with older forms of atheism. The social reality and theological challenge presented by religious pluralism is also critically examined. Differing theological responses to these issues are considered and their practical relevance for the life of local churches is explored.
TH7140 Master of Ministry Dissertation
The MMin dissertation provides an opportunity for students to explore a topic of their choice within the field of practical theology. The dissertation will be the result of the student's own research, and will provide evidence of a person's independent, analytical, evaluative and creative abilities. Before commencing work on the MMin Dissertation students will normally complete Module TH7126 Research Methods. The dissertation will demonstrate the student’s ability to engage in critical, theological reflection upon the practice of Christian ministry.
The interim award of MMin and MProf
The MMin. is not a target award but is available for students achieving at least 180 credits at level 7 & 8 or at level 8 on the programme but not continuing for the D.Min award. For example: students who successfully complete 6 x 20 credit modules at Stage 1a) can be awarded the MMin if they also complete a 15,000 word (60 credits) MMin Dissertation (Module TH7140).
The MProf is not a target award but will be awarded to students who exit having achieved 180 credits at levels 7 and/or 8.
Level 8 - Research & research training / Researching the practice of ministry
Students granted exemptions from Level 7 modules on the basis of a relevant master’s degree or postgraduate diploma and updated professional experience can begin at this point. Additional research training is provided through the DMin Research Workshops and the Online Forums.
TH8007 Developing Ministerial Practice
This module explores an area of ministerial practice chosen by the student. Students wishing to develop a specialism in the area of preaching, for example, may choose to use materials from module TH7132 as an introduction to the subject. Students would be expected to engage in independent, critical and theological reflection upon current debates within homiletics and then explore the relevance of current trends in homiletics for the practice of preaching within their own context.
Where students are aware that their previous studies have not addressed certain areas of theologically study which are likely to prove fundamental to their proposed research project, they may be permitted to substitute Module TH8012 Independent Theological Study for Module TH8007.
TH8008 Literature Review DMin
In this module students demonstrate their competence in gathering evidence related to their chosen areas of study by conducting literature searches, and drawing upon online resources such as academic databases. Students are required to engage critically with key texts within their chosen area of study. They engage in reflection on the ways in which a literature review functions within advanced research practice.
TH8009 Publishable Article DMin
This module focuses upon the elements involved in producing a ‘publishable’ piece of work, which provides an original contribution to thinking about the practice of ministry. Students engage in a process of independent research in order to produce a publishable article or research report. The article will demonstrate the student’s ability to engage in self-directed research, to reflect critically and theologically upon their findings, and to write in a clear and convincing way in accordance with standard scholarly conventions.
TH8010 Reflective Practitioner Portfolio
This module involves producing a portfolio which collects evidence of the student’s professional development activities. This collection of evidence serves as a resource for ongoing personal and professional development.
TH8011 Research Proposal DMin
This module considers various methods of study and research available to students working in the field of practical theology; and enables students to produce coherent and viable research proposals for Doctoral dissertations.
TH8012 Independent Theological Study
This independent study module contributes to the student’s research training by providing an opportunity for detailed study of a particular theological or biblical topic. Having agreed the general scope of the topic with a subject specialist, students engage in independent, critical research into their chosen topic, which explores its relevance to their proposed research topic.
Stage 2 After an Advisory and Review Board confirming the supervision arrangements, students undertake the final component of the course.
TH8013 Doctorate of Ministry Dissertation
This 50,000 – 60,000 word thesis presents the candidates’ research as a contribution to the discipline of Practical Theology, as a critical evaluation of the contribution which this research makes to their context of professional practice, and as a critical account and analysis of the intellectual and professional development of the candidate during the research. It is defended at a viva voce.