CertHE, DipHE and BA (Hons)
About the course
It’s good to remember that the goal of theological study is wisdom, not the mere heaping of knowledge, not impressing your friends with erudition, and certainly not the cleverness that wins quiz shows. Wisdom, rather, is sharp-eyed for the ways of God in the world, discerns our hidden longings and needs, judges justly, speaks words of help and hope, and is more at home on the street than in the classroom, given that the latter is the way to, not from, the world. Wisdom, too, is joyful, not sombre and overborn by all the difficulties of life, but able to spot the way of Jesus, even in deep shadow.
Independent students at St Augustine’s are a stimulating and diverse crowd. Some pursue the programme in order to enrich their understanding of Christian faith, some understand their studies as informing their service of Christ in their daily lives, still others undertake study as part of their vocational discernment. Whatever the reason, independent students form a distinct and valued community, sharing their classes with students training for licensed and ordained ministry, but also enjoying their own programme with its particular objectives and special activities.
As well as covering all the traditional theological disciplines, the programme provides opportunities to develop skills in theological reflection able to ground a faith based perspective on every aspect of daily life. There is also a significant practical component, which connects your ongoing classroom learning with practical activities in church, in your workplace, in the public arena, and elsewhere.
Who can apply?
The Independent Students pathway is for those wishing to increase their knowledge of Christian faith and practice but who aren’t seeking ordination or licensed lay ministry. Sometimes students undergoing discernment are recommended to start theological study, sometimes taking just a module or two in the first instance, to explore their motivation and aptitude for degree-level study.
To enter the Independent Students pathway, you’ll need to be a regular member of a church, but need not have any particular role or experience within that church. We welcome students from any denomination.
- Certificate in Higher Education (CertHE) in Theology, Ministry and Mission (Level 4)
- Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE) in Theology, Ministry and Mission (Level 5)
- BA (Hons) in Theology, Ministry and Mission (Level 6)
Successful completion of a stage qualification (e.g. CertHE) allows you to move on to the next stage.
Certificate in HE
The Certificate introduces you to the study of theology, with introductory modules on Biblical Studies, Christian Doctrine, Church History and Christian Worship. These modules will offer new perspectives on familiar features of Christian faith and practice.
The Certificate programme places a particular emphasis on the core beliefs and practices of Christian faith and discipleship. A module on spirituality and discipleship helps you to evaluate your existing practices of devotion and to explore new ones. The ‘Reflective Practice’ module engages with your existing church involvement, developing skills in analysing and reflecting upon specific situations from a theologically informed point of view.
Diploma in HE
The Diploma involves study at a more advanced level. Biblical Studies modules sweep through the whole of Scripture, examining key issues for biblical interpretation and demonstrating how the whole Bible hangs together. In various modules, including doctrine and ethics, contemporary church life is brought into focus through the lens of history. The module on Sacramental Theology studies the practices of Baptism and Eucharist (Holy Communion), how they developed over the centuries, and their significance within contemporary Christian life.
A special emphasis of the Diploma programme concerns theology in the contemporary public arena. A placement based module offers you the opportunity to experience, and reflect upon, the various ways in which theology is understood and Christian responsibility exercised in the realms of business, civic organisation, or politics. This is supported by the module Christian Faith and Ethical Living, which explores the nature of Christian ethics and applies its principles to topical debates in the world and in the church. Christian discipleship and contemporary public theology are also brought together in the final module: Texts & Traditions in Christian Spirituality. In these classes, classic Christian writings of the past provide a starting-point for understanding how Christian faith is nurtured and sustained within the Body of Christ and how it may inspire the renewal of cultural, political, and economic life.
BA (Hons) Degree
These are our most demanding undergraduate programmes, allowing for more individual specialisation, which takes advantage of your particular interests. It also provides a sound basis for future study at masters and doctoral level.
Typical modules taken by BA students are Further Biblical Studies, Issues in Biblical Theology and Christian Doctrine. These build on the foundations of the Certificate and Diploma, providing a broad historical perspective on Biblical Interpretation and a focus on contemporary developments in theology and doctrine.
In addition, you will do an Independent Learning project, a Dissertation (a substantial piece of supervised, self-guided study and writing) or an Extended Project (a practical undertaking with associated learning, reflection and reporting). Whichever option is chosen, this brings the programme to its most sustained integration of personal faith, theological learning, and Christian discipleship.
Where can I study?
You have a choice of locations and study modes to suit you.
Independent students study either part or full-time at our Malling Abbey and/or Trinity House, Borough High Street teaching centres. They attend one further Study Day per year (coinciding with the residential school for ordinands in Canterbury).
Modules are taken each term either through weekly evening classes (Mondays at Trinity House, Borough High Street, Wednesdays at Malling Abbey) plus a Saturday School; and/or weekly or fortnightly teaching days (Fridays at Malling Abbey).
How long will it take?
Certificate in Higher Education (Level 4):
- One year of full-time study
- Two years of part-time study
Diploma in Higher Education (Level 4-5):
- Two years of full-time study
- Four years of part-time study
Full BA (Level 4-6):
- Three years of full-time study
- Six years of part-time study
How much study time is involved?
Full-time students attend both evening classes and teaching days, typically taking two modules each term in Biblical Studies, Christian Doctrine, Church History, Ethics, Worship and Liturgy.
Part-time students attend either evening classes or teaching days, taking only one module per term in the above subject areas.
You will also undertake two placements, one at Level 4 stage (CertHE) and one at Level 5 stage (DipHE).
A module typically involves two written assignments. Full-time study requires at least twenty hours of study per week, outside class time. Part-time study requires at least ten hours of study per week, outside class time.
What will I study?
What follows is an overview of the modules you will study at each level, together with students on other pathways. First, the modules that are part of the Certificate in Higher Education (Level 4):
Introduction to Biblical Studies
This module introduces you to the contemporary study of Scripture. You learn how to use the major critical tools that scholars employ to interpret the Bible. You shall study how these critical techniques have developed and so understand the story of modern biblical criticism. In this way, this module introduces you to the most important issues raised for Christian life and worship by the study of Scripture.
Introduction to Church History
This module provides a broad overview of church history focusing on the historical development of the doctrine of the Trinity. Key stages in the development of Trinitarian thinking are related to the church’s social, cultural and political context and to the historical roots of specific denominational identities.
Spirituality and Discipleship
This module puts spirituality at the heart of your study of theology, integrating that study with the life of discipleship. You shall examine the place of prayer and repentance, of contemplation and ‘bearing the cross’, of ‘detachment’ and pilgrimage, both literal and metaphorical. The module also looks in detail at some of the most important scriptural and doctrinal sources for Christian prayer and spirituality. Along with all this, you shall choose and undertake a set of spiritual practices that will help stretch your soul.
Introduction to Christian Doctrine
This module examines central Christian theological affirmations about the person and work of Jesus Christ (Christology and soteriology) and considers what follows for Christian life and practice. It introduces you to theological debates about the person and work of Jesus Christ down the centuries and explores some of the implications of these for Christian life and practice.
Foundations in Christian Worship
In this module, you shall consider daily, weekly and yearly patterns of worship in the Christian churches today. By way of a local history project, historical study will complement your exploration of the contemporary diversity of these patterns. You shall also visit a variety of churches to grasp something of this variety at first hand. Examining the way Christians shape and mark time through their worship, this module concentrates on the vital relationship between past traditions and present realities.
The following modules are part of the Diploma in Higher Education (Level 5):
Old Testament Studies
This module gives you a broad overview of salvation history, that is, the history of the covenant people in its relationship with God, as portrayed in the narrative of the Old Testament. It will also extend and develop the range of critical skills you use to interpret Scripture and link these skills to the roles of scripture within the Christian community. As the vehicle for achieving this, you shall analyse specific biblical texts related to the themes of creation and covenant.
New Testament Studies
In this module you shall study the mission and ministry of Jesus in the Gospels, as well as and the early Christians’ experience of the risen Christ and of the Holy Spirit. You shall pay particular attention to Luke-Acts and to Paul’s epistles, especially Romans. You shall examine how Jesus drew on the theology of contemporary Judaism and reshaped it. The module explores the experiences and concerns of the earliest Christian communities and discusses to how the beginnings of Christian faith and practice continue to shape the ministry and mission of the church today.
Christian Faith and Ethical Living
This module addresses the foundations of Christian ethical reasoning, offering a theological account of core Christian moral concepts. You shall discuss their application to issues currently subject to sharp controversy within and outside the Church: sexual ethics, family, distributive justice and poverty, and Christian participation in public life.
Texts and Traditions in Christian Spirituality
This module aims to engage with a range of voices from the Christian spiritual tradition in relation to disciplines of academic study, including disciplines shared by non-theological subject areas. It introduces students to the study of spirituality as well as to a range of texts from the writings of great figures within the tradition of Christian spirituality.
Sacramental Theology and Ministry
This module reflects on the way that the sacraments of baptism and eucharist or communion are celebrated in our Churches and on historical, cultural and theological factors shaping this. Students draw on what they are learning from academic sources to help Christians in their local context grow in understanding of these pivotal practices for church life.
During the final stage of the programme leading to the BA (Level 6), you will take modules such as the following. The selection of modules depends on your interest and/or availability (not all modules are offered each year).
Christian Doctrine in Focus
This module focuses on the Christian doctrines of Trinity, creation and the person and work of Jesus Christ. It studies how these areas of Christian doctrine have been subject to critique within and outside the Church in modernity and post-modernity, and examines various constructive theological responses to such critique, for example, Radical Orthodoxy and post-liberal theology.
Issues in Biblical Theology
This module explores some of the main issues involved in studying Biblical theology and engages with some major biblical themes such as the nature of God, God’s presence/absence and the people of God. Students will be introduced to the work of some significant scholars in the field. Particular attention is given to the unity and diversity of the testaments, and the effects of this on a canonical approach to particular themes.
The Bible and Christian Faith
This module will explore specific biblical texts and themes from a range of hermeneutical perspectives and bring these to bear on contemporary contexts.
Church History in Focus
This module will explore one or more important areas of church history and will typically include a focus on the Protestant Reformations. It will include study of relevant primary sources; consideration of the chosen area’s connections to the wider history of Christian life and thought; and attention to the relationships between this historical area and contemporary Christian practice and experience.
As an independent student you’ll also undertake one or more of the following pathway-specific modules (the number depending on how far you progress into the programme):
Foundations for Reflective Practice in Context
The focus of this module (and corresponding placement) is your existing church involvement. It is mainly a practical module and allows you to engage in a structured way – based on your other learning – with your church activities.
Reflective Practice in Context
The focus of this module (and corresponding placement) is theology in the contemporary public arena. It offers the opportunity to experience, and reflect upon, the ways in which theology might be expressed and exercised in the realms of business, civic organisation or politics.
Project or Dissertation
At degree level (Level 6) you will do an Independent Learning Project, Extended Project or Dissertation (see also above). In either case, the opportunity is for you to explore a particular topic or context that is of interest to you and which has not appeared elsewhere in the pathway.