Placements and practical experience

Depending on your specific pathway, you’ll undertake placements and projects designed to enrich your experience of the Church’s mission.

You’ll have the chance to develop your skills in pastoral care and communication, putting your theoretical knowledge into practice.

These placements can range from taking part in and supporting worship in a new church, to offering spiritual support to people in hospital.

Students share some learnings from thier placements

Types of placement

There are a wide range of placement opportunities available, typically across South East England. As students, you may have the chance to choose specific placements according to your interest or location.

To give you a flavour of what placements are available during your studies, we spoke to a number of students who’d recently completed a placement.

A placement in a busy, urban church

“For your placements, you’re expected to work in a church where the worship style, culture and outreach are different to your own.

“My local church in Guernsey is in a rural, agricultural community, so I joined the pastoral ministry team in a busy urban church. In my professional life, I’m an interpreter and ESOL teacher, so naturally I love language, communication and people, and being able to participate in what was called ‘cruise ship ministry’ was an immense privilege.

“We have many hundreds of people from all over the world coming through our church doors, and they come for many different reasons. I met young people from the USA who were seeking the atmosphere of ancient church buildings created by generations of worshippers. I’ve also met people from all over Europe, Asia and Africa of many different faiths.

“But some people on cruises are there because they are lonely or bereaved, and are just looking for someone to talk to. We gave them a safe space to talk, and were there to listen. Being part of this ‘living witness’ was a profound experience for me.

“I don’t yet know where this will take me, since the more I learn, the wider the horizons become, and I don’t want to close any doors yet. Partly because of my placement experience, I am considering pastoral ministry or chaplaincy later, but for now, I am going to trust and see where I am led.”

Sara Jane Allen

St Augustine’s student

A placement in a prison

“I completed my second year placement in Her Majesty’s Prison Thameside, in South East London. The placement involved eight full-day or half-day sessions in the prison’s Faith Centre (Chaplaincy), where I was supervised by the Anglican chaplain.

“It was a fascinating experience…

  • I shadowed three of the chaplains as they walked around the prison, talking to prisoners and staff.
  • I attended meetings, such as new prisoner inductions.
  • I attended services in the Faith Centre, culminating in a joyous service on Easter Sunday where four prisoners were confirmed by the Bishop of Woolwich.
  • I also had the deep privilege of preaching and leading intercessions one Sunday.

“I was so impressed by the love, care and humour demonstrated by the chaplains as they helped prisoners and staff with emotional, spiritual and practical needs. It was a joy to talk to the prisoners and share worship with them, and I was moved by the welcome given me by the prisoners who really appreciated seeing a new face from ‘outside’.

“The experience was challenging but I was in good hands, with excellent support from the Chaplains. The experience was also extremely rewarding. My reflections during and after the placement helped me understand how God works in prison through the work of the chaplains. I was motivated to maintain my links with the prison and am now visiting a prisoner regularly.”

David McEvoy

St Augustine’s student

A placement in a hospital

“I did a placement at Croydon University Hospital, which was my first experience of chaplaincy in a healthcare setting.

“Taking a religious role as part of a secular organisation was really interesting. It confirmed that what I’m doing on a daily basis in my own secular job is really integrated with my faith – and that how I am at work is informed by my training.

“One thing I have reflected on recently is the potential for clashes – not so much with people from other Church of England traditions, but within my own. It does happen! Undertaking formation means that you can’t take a backseat when it comes to making decisions.

“You have to step up. It doesn’t make life easy, but it does provide insight, which in turn helps to give you the insight and strength to act in different ways”

Judith Brooks

St Augustine’s student

A placement in a new church with an Anglo-Catholic tradition

“My usual church is Evangelical, and as part of my placement, my family and I moved to a church with a high Anglo-Catholic tradition.

“My eight-week placement was in an affluent area – very different from where I have always lived and worked. They were welcoming, but it was totally unlike anything I was used to. I found that the clergy were more like managers, and were very good at allocating tasks to people in church.

“I learned how institutionalised the church can be, and how much it can become about pleasing the people in a particular parish, rather than listening to what God wants. For example, if some people are very keen on running concerts in the church, are very vocal about it and have the money and skills, they can drive what happens.

“I suggested we try to get more people across the community involved. This experience strengthened my conviction that, as a church, we should all work collaboratively to engage people. Wherever we work, we need to understand context and avoid hanging on to fixed ideas. We need to keep thinking about why we do what we do, and what God wants us to do.

“It’s easy, and natural for us to want to be successful. Harder, but vital, is to prayerfully ask God what is needed here, and have the courage to follow, however the Spirit leads.”

Carol Bates

St Augustine’s student

Discover what it’s like to study at St Augustine’s

Come along to one of our open-day style taster events. Meet the staff, chat with fellow students, sit in on classes, and join us in worshipping together.