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Choosing the right course for you

Which course you take depends partly on the level of your previous education, partly on your preferences for modes of teaching and assessment. Some courses are more academically challenging than others; some are exam-based while others combine essays with exams or have no exams. Your choice of course will also depend in part on the length of your training, which is determined by your age at the start of study.

When you come to visit on one of our open days you will have a chance to talk through our courses with us and to ask questions, so there’s no need to make your final decision yet.

But it’s helpful to get a sense before you visit of what your main options are, so since your options will be influenced firstly by your age at the start of your training, choose the relevant section below, and we’ll guide you from there.

1. I will be under 32 years old at the start of my training

Because you are under 32 years old, the Church of England provides you with three years of ordination training, or two years if you already have a degree in theology.

Choose a heading below that fits your situation, and we’ll take you through your main options.

I haven’t studied theology before

I haven’t studied theology before

The typical route for someone in your position who hasn’t studied theology before is to take the BA in Theology, Ministry and Mission (BA Common Awards validated by Durham University). This is a three-year degree in Christian theology assessed through essays and a dissertation (no exams), which offers opportunities for independent study.

Other options

If you achieved at least a good 2:1 in a previous degree in another subject, and would prefer a more vocational degree that combines theological and practical study, you may like to consider applying the Bachelor of Theology (BTh validated by the University of Cambridge). The BTh is Cambridge University’s vocational degree for Christian ministry assessed through essays and exams, combining theological and practical study.

Alternatively, if you achieved a high 2:1 or better in a previous degree in another subject and would like a course that promotes learning through rigorous individual study and small group supervisions, you may apply for the BA in Theological and Religious Studies (known as the BA Tripos, and validated by the University of Cambridge). This is Cambridge University’s traditional theology course assessed primarily through exams.

Both the BTh and the BA Tripos are two-year courses and you would complete your three years of ordination training by picking up one of the following options in your final year:

  1. Postgraduate Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission (Common Awards)
    The PGDip comprises the 6 modules of the MA in Theology, Ministry and Mission. It is sometimes possible to complete the MA (by writing a dissertation) during curacy, although this requires permission from the diocese and the training incumbent.
  2. Postgraduate Certificate in Theology, Ministry and Mission (Common Awards) – for context-based training pathway students only

Outstanding candidates may instead apply for the MPhil in Theology (University of Cambridge)

I’ve studied theology previously for one year (a Certificate or equivalent)

I’ve studied theology previously for one year (a Certificate or equivalent)

The typical route for someone without a full theology degree is to take the BA in Theology, Ministry and Mission (BA Common Awards validated by Durham University). This is a three-year degree in Christian theology assessed through essays and a dissertation (no exams), which offers opportunities for independent study.

However, if you’ve gained 120 credits in theology from previous study, you may be eligible for Accredited Prior Learning, which would enable you to enter the BA Common Awards at a higher level and complete it in two years. In your third year of training you would undertake the Postgraduate Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission (PGDip). This is the first year of the MA in Theology, Ministry and Mission, validated by Durham University and assessed through essays. It is sometimes possible to complete the MA (by writing a dissertation) during curacy, although this requires permission from the diocese and the training incumbent.

Other options

If you achieved at least a good 2:1 in a previous degree in another subject, and would prefer a more vocational degree that combines theological and practical study, you may like to consider applying the Bachelor of Theology (BTh validated by the University of Cambridge). The BTh is Cambridge University’s vocational degree for Christian ministry assessed through essays and exams.

If you achieved a high 2:1 or better in a previous degree in another subject and would like a course that promotes learning through rigorous individual study and small group supervisions, you may apply instead for the BA in Theological and Religious Studies (known as the BA Tripos, and validated by the University of Cambridge). This is Cambridge University’s traditional theology course assessed primarily through exams.

Both the BTh and the BA Tripos are two-year courses and you would complete your three years of ordination training by picking up one of the following options in your final year:

  1. Postgraduate Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission (Common Awards)
    The PGDip comprises the 6 modules of the MA in Theology, Ministry and Mission. It is sometimes possible to complete the MA (by writing a dissertation) during curacy, although this requires permission from the diocese and the training incumbent.
  2. Postgraduate Certificate in Theology, Ministry and Mission (Common Awards) – for context-based training pathway students only

Outstanding candidates may instead apply for the MPhil in Theology (University of Cambridge).

I have already taken an accredited 2 or 3-year course in theology

I have already taken an accredited 2 or 3-year course in theology

If you already have a degree in theology, the Church of England usually provides two years of ordination training.

The typical route for someone in your position is to take the MA in Theology, Ministry and Mission over two years (four modules in the first year, combined with other ordination requirements, and two modules and a dissertation in the second year).

I already have a Masters in Theology

I already have a Masters in Theology

If you have been identified as a Potential Theological Educator or already have a Masters degree in Theology, there are a number of possibilities for research degrees, including a PhD, alongside some in-house modules. We can discuss your options when you attend an open day.

2. I will be aged 32 or over at the start of my training

The Church of England provides you with two years of ordination training if you are 32 years old or over when you start training.

Choose a heading below that fits your situation, and we’ll take you through your main options.

I haven’t studied theology before

I haven’t studied theology before

The standard route for ordinands who train for two years is the Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE, Common Awards validated by Durham University). This is a vocational diploma in Christian theology assessed through essays and offering a blend of theory and practice.

If you have at least a good 2:1 in a previous degree in another subject, and would prefer a more vocational degree that combines theological and practical study, you may like to consider applying for the Bachelor of Theology (BTh validated by the University of Cambridge). The BTh is Cambridge University’s vocational degree for Christian ministry assessed through essays and exams.

I’ve studied theology previously for one year (a Certificate or equivalent)

I’ve studied theology previously for one year (a Certificate or equivalent)

Most ordinands who train for two years take the Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE, Common Awards validated by Durham University). This is a vocational diploma in Christian theology assessed through essays and offering a blend of theory and practice.

If you have at least a good 2:1 in a previous degree in another subject, and would prefer a more vocational degree that combines theological and practical study, you may like to consider applying for the Bachelor of Theology (BTh validated by the University of Cambridge). The BTh is Cambridge University’s vocational degree for Christian ministry assessed through essays and exams.

However, if you’ve gained 120 credits in theology from previous study, you may be eligible for Accredited Prior Learning. We can discuss potential options with you when you come to visit us.

I have already taken an accredited 2 or 3-year course in theology

I have already taken an accredited 2 or 3-year course in theology

The typical route for someone in your position is to take the MA in Theology, Ministry and Mission over two years (four modules in the first year, combined with other ordination requirements, and two modules and a dissertation in the second year).

Other options

Students with outstanding results in their prior theology degree or who have been designated as a Potential Theological Educator but may apply for entry onto the MPhil in Theology (validated by the University of Cambridge). If unsuccessful they would revert to the MA in Theology, Ministry and Mission (Common Awards).