Dr Sarah Dunlop

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Dr Sarah Dunlop

Tutor in Practical Theology

01223 746592

Sarah Dunlop teaches Theological Reflection and Pastoral Care modules and is passionate about supporting students to make connections between classroom learning, worship and experiences of ministry.

She enjoys exploring with students the connections between culture, theology, missiology, ecclesiology and ministry practice. Her hope is that all students will leave Ridley with a flourishing spirituality and bank of learning that integrates and flows into creative, innovative and faith-filled ministry.

Sarah is passionate about Practical Theology and is an active contributor to the global expansion of this exciting new field of study. Her work sits at the nexus of sociology of religion and empirical theology.

Visual Knowledge

Visual Knowledge

Sarah observes that so much of what we know about our world comes through seeing. So why does the academy focus on texts?

Sarah has pioneered visual ethnography as a research method for the study of religion and spirituality. She has published and taught widely in this field and other qualitative research methods.

She is keen to bring photographs and visual reflection into the classroom and explore ways that visual material expands our capacity for doing theology.



Co-author of Megachurches and Social Engagement: Public Theology in Practice (2019) and Visualising Hope: Exploring the Spiritualities of Young People in Eastern and Central Europe (2008), Sarah’s research includes topics such as young people and social change, chaplaincy as public theology, contemporary discipleship and London’s megachurches.

Sarah is an active member of the Ecclesiology and Ethnography network and the British and Irish Association for Practical Theology. She is currently researching large Christian gatherings as sites of affective affinity.



Peer-reviewed articles:

  • 'Answers on a Postcard: Photo Elicitation in the Service of Local Ecclesial Strategy' (with Jon Marlow), Ecclesial Practices, vol. 8(2) (2021), pp. 165-84.
  • 'Exploring the reflective practice of Anglican laity: finding manna in the desert (with Catherine Nancekievill and Pippa Ross-McCabe), Practical Theology, vol. 14 (2021), Issue 4, pp. 309–322.
  • 'De-centring Social Capital: Exploring the implications of empirical research for conceptualising Christian faith-based social engagement' (with Heather Buckingham) Journal of Contemporary Religion, vol. 34 (2019), pp. 135–152.
  • ‘Is “Being There” Enough? Explorations of incarnational missiology with chaplains’ Practical Theology, (2017), vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 174–86.
  • ‘Narrated Photography: visual representations of the sacred among young Polish migrants in England’ (with Pete Ward) Fieldwork in Religion, vol. 9, no. 1. (2014) pp. 30–52.
  • ‘From Obligation to Consumption in Two and a Half Hours: a visual exploration of the sacred with young Polish migrants’, (with Pete Ward) Journal of Contemporary Religion, vol. 27, no. 3 (Oct 2012).
  • ‘Practical Theology and the Ordinary: Research among migrant Polish Catholic young people’, (with Pete Ward) Practical Theology, vol. 4, no. 3. (2011) pp. 295–313.
  • ‘Values and Significance: A case study uncovering the search for meaning among young people in Central and Eastern Europe’, Journal of Youth and Theology, vol. 7, no. 1. (April 2008).

Book Chapters:

  • ‘Visual Ethnography’ in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Theology and Qualitative Research, eds Pete Ward and Knut Tveitereid (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2022), pp. 415-424.
  • 'Photo Elicitation' in The Routledge Handbook of Research Methods in the Study of Religion, eds S. Engler and M. Stausberg, 2nd edition, London, Routledge, 2022, pp. 565-77.
  • ‘Young People and Religion and Spirituality in Europe: a complex picture’ (with Giselle Vincett, Kornelia Sammet and Alexander Yendell) in Handbook of Children and Youth Studies, eds. Helen Cahill and Johanna Wyn, SpringerReference, (2015), pp. 889–902.
  • ‘Visual Methods’ (with Philip Richter) in Religion and Youth, eds. Sylvia Collins-Mayo and Pink Dandelion, Ashgate, 2010, pp. 209–216.


  • Chaplaincy and Practical Theology: Researching a Pioneering Ministry, co-edited with Stephen Roberts, Routledge, 2022.
  • Megachurches and Social Engagement: Public Theology in Practice, co-authored with Mark Cartledge and Heather Buckingham, Brill, 2019.
  • Visualising Hope: Exploring the spirituality of young people in Central and Eastern Europe, YTC Press, 2008.

Other publications:

  • ‘Visualising transcendence: A case study of the spirituality of young people in Kyiv, Ukraine’ Frontier, (Keston Institute) Summer 2005, no. 9.