Diploma and BA (Hons)

  1. 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.

    At St Augustine’s, the various students not training for a licensed ministry (lay or ordained) 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, these 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.

  2. Who can apply?

    Anyone can apply who wishes to increase their knowledge of Christian faith and practice but isn’t preparing for ordination or licensed lay ministry. 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. 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.

    If you haven’t studied theology at Higher Education level before, you will enter our undergraduate programme at Certificate level (Theology for Disciples) and join our Licensed Lay Ministry students. For further details, please go to Theology for Disciples.

    Once you have completed the Certificate stage, you can proceed to Levels 5 and 6 in order to complete the Diploma and BA (Hons) respectively.

  3. Qualifications available

    Successful completion of a stage qualification (e.g., CertHE or DipHE) allows you to move on to the next stage.

    Diploma in Higher Education

    The Diploma involves study at a more advanced level. The Biblical Studies module sweeps 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 Texts & Traditions in Christian Spirituality  module. 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

    The final and more demanding level of the programme also allows 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 at Level 6 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 undertake either 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.

  4. Where can I study?

    You have a choice of locations and study modes to suit you.

    If you are a part-time student, you can attend either our weekly Evening Classes (Mondays at Trinity House, Southwark, or Wednesdays at Malling Abbey, West Malling) or our fortnightly Teaching Days (Fridays at Malling Abbey, West Malling). If you are a full-time student, you will take a double amount of modules and will therefore attend a combination of these options: two sets of Evening Classes; one set of Evening Classes plus a set of Teaching Days; or two sets of Teaching Days (i.e., weekly Fridays). Note, however, that the teaching for the reflective practice placement module (DipHE) may involve Saturday teaching instead of the usual Evening Class or Friday Teaching Day pattern.

    In addition, each year you will attend a one-day ‘Saturday School’ in either mid-December or early January – or both if you are are a full-time student. Please Contact Us for next year’s Academic Calendar.

    Furthermore, all students attend our annual Theological Symposium at Canterbury (coinciding with the Residential Week for ordinands).

  5. How long will it take?

    Diploma in Higher Education – starting from Certificate:

    • Two years of full-time study
    • Four years of part-time study

    BA (Hons) – starting from Certificate:

    • Three years of full-time study
    • Six years of part-time study
  6. How much study time is involved?

    Full-time students attend both weekly Evening Classes and fortnightly Teaching Days (or weekly Teaching Days), typically taking two modules each term in Biblical Studies, Christian Doctrine, Church History, Ethics, Worship and Liturgy, and so on.

    Part-time students attend either weekly Evening Classes or fortnightly Teaching Days, taking only one module per term in the above subject areas.

    You will also undertake a placement during the DipHE (Level 5) stage of the programme).

    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.

    Academic Calendar

    Please Contact Us for next year’s Academic Calendar.

  7. What will I study?

    What follows is a sample of the modules you will study at each level, together with students on other pathways. For the modules that are part of the Certificate programme, see the Certificate page.

    The following modules are part of the Diploma in Higher Education (Level 5):

    Biblical Studies

    This module enables focused study of specific books and passages from the Old and New Testaments, including orientation to the genres of material being discussed. It explores different critical approaches to the study of Old and New Testaments, and the responsible use of the Bible in Christian theology, preaching and praxis.

    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.

    You will also undertake one or more of the following pathway-specific modules (the number depending on how far you progress into the programme):

    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.

“Returning to formal education following a 30-year break was a scary prospect. However, here I found a challenging but supportive environment in which I was able to flourish and achieve more than I ever thought possible.”
Sue Shortman Part-time BA student, Southwark
“This experience has already changed me. My vicar has noticed and commented on the many ways it has affected me and strengthened my thinking and ability in practical situations and how the course and study has helped to inform practical ministerial application and personal reflection. It is good to have undertaken such relevant and constructive study and training!”
Sally Nicholas Part-time BA student, Southwark