The MA aims to promote reflection on the relationships between faith, humanity, experience, practice, professional and working life, church, culture, social context and theology, taking account of different traditions. Through honing skills of analysis and reflection, it aims to develop your capacity for ongoing systematic theological reflection on experience, pastoral ministry and the specific situations of your life and work.
Several of the academic staff contribute to an introductory foundation module, which includes a guidance session on essay writing. There is a second compulsory module, and you then have an opportunity to choose from a range of options. These cover topics in the Bible, Church, Ministry, Liturgy, Spirituality, Evangelisation, Religious Life, Social Context. You can explore different approaches to practical theology and different disciplines, such as Sociology of Religion and Political and Liberation Theology.
Not all modules may be available every year, but details of what is expected to be available over a two year period are published when you start. From time to time new modules are introduced and changes made to what is on offer.
Part-time students often choose the degree to equip themselves better for the range of issues they already face in pastoral work, or to make the transition from active engagement in parish work to regular pastoral roles, whether through employment or as volunteers.
Each module is taught by a two hour session once a week over an 11-week term. These sessions are interactive with students. The majority of your learning takes place independently through directed reading and other assignments. Additionally, you will have tutorials, normally on a one-to-one basis, to discuss work completed or in progress. The dissertation gives you the opportunity to undertake an extended investigation of a topic of your own choice, which in some cases may also draw on your practical experience.
With some exceptions, classes for this MA are during the day, since experience shows that many students have pastoral commitments in the evening. Most classes take place on one day of the week. You will also need to attend tutorials, and meetings with a dissertation supervisor. You will need to spend about six hours in each week for each module on directed reading in preparation for the classes and more some of it out of term-time on researching for and writing your assignments.
If you are already actively engaged in pastoral work or ministry, you may find that some of your work time provides a source for your learning.
Each module is assessed by coursework during the module or shortly after its end, and by a 4,000 word essay done by the end of the year. Coursework tasks vary to reflect the module content and learning outcomes. Examples may include articles, reviews and essays. You will also complete a 12,000-15,000 word dissertation.
Examples of available module options are:
PAS414 Foundations of Pastoral Theology (compulsory core module)
This core module aims to establish foundations for pastoral studies by bringing together key theological elements with a reflective approach to Christian ministry. It will introduce a range of issues in methodology for pastoral theology; ecclesiology in pastoral ecclesiology; Christian ministry; theological reflection.
PAS415 Religion - Contex and Crisis (compulsory)
This module will address critical issues of the contemporary context from sociological and theological perspectives. It will model the pastoral theological approach and methodology and deepen understanding of themes of political and liberation theology and the sociology of religion.
PAS521 Mission and Ministry
This module will explore the missionary and ministerial dimensions of the Church and Christian life. It will examine the contemporary call to a new evangelisation, and ethical issues arising in relation to ministerial practice.
BIB511 The Bible in the Life of the Church
This module examines the Bible as the central religious, spiritual, intellectual and cultural source of communities of faith: Judaism and Christianity in its various denominations. Exegetical analysis of selected Biblical texts will be reflected against the backdrop of their theological, liturgical, artistic and musical reception. Communities of faith will be seen both as the hermeneutical framework for the interpretation of canonical texts as well as inspired and fostered by them. According to specific interests of students, the module will also give an opportunity to improve practical skills regarding the ministry of the Word.
PAS520 Theology of Religious Life
This module explores the theological foundations of life within religious congregations and orders. In an exploration of the Biblical, historical, spiritual and ecclesiological aspects of this life we will examine the concepts of vocation and charism, models of community, prayer and ecclesial life as well as looking at paradigms for the religious life of the future. Source texts from various traditions and ecclesial documents will be studied together with contemporary writing on the consecrated life from a variety of contexts. Students will be encouraged to reflect critically on religious life from a broad spectrum of disciplines.
PAL503 Symbol and Ritual
This module will introduce major theories of ritual and symbol in the context of liturgical practice and theology and provide an overview of liturgical theology and liturgical prayer in practice.
You can include a choice from another MA programme, by agreement.