Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology (PrD)

Professional doctorates are designed to take explicit account of the work or practice-based setting of participating students as a central component (and knowledge base) of an advanced research project. This reflects the need for structured forms of professional development in many areas of the public, private and voluntary sector.

Who is the Doctorate for?

The qualification is particularly aimed at participants across a range of contexts and institutions:

  • Public sector professions, such as health care, education and social services
  • Those working in the caring professions, such as psychotherapy and counselling, social work and community development
  • Ministers of religion or lay leaders, in parish, congregational or chaplaincy settings
  • Those working for charities, non-governmental organisations, or in cultural industries or the arts
  • Those in industry or business wishing to deepen their understanding of the ethical and theological dimensions of their professional and/or voluntary practice.

Course content

  • Award of the doctoral degree will be via submission of a research portfolio, with structured assignments and deadlines. Participants will be assessed on their ability to generate new perspectives, data and paradigms in the engagement between religious, ethical and spiritual world-views and a range of professional and practical contexts.
  • In addition to regular supervisions with a tutor, participants will undertake four one- day conferences per year with a peer group, covering all aspects of the discipline of practical theology. Sessions will include work on research skills and methodology, practical exercises in enquiry-based learning, and lectures, seminars and student-led discussions.
  • An international summer school is held each July, drawing together students on Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology programmes from other participating universities.
  • The programme is available over three to six years part-time.

Study methods

The programme will introduce you to a range of dynamic and challenging concepts and methods with which to reflect critically and constructively on your current experience and context. Two approaches in particular will be used:

  • Practice-based research and enquiry-based learning methods, in which participants' own professional context becomes a primary research resource.
  • You will be encouraged to keep a research log, or learning journal. This may take the form of a diary, or portfolio or other personal record, and is designed to encourage you to keep a record of your reading and research, cultivate your writing skills and integrate your theoretical work with sustained reflection on your own practical context. Elements of this journal will be submitted for assessment.

Features at a glance

  • A relatively new programme, launched in 2006, the Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology is the first of its kind in theological studies anywhere in the UK. It is offered within a national consortium by Anglia Ruskin University with the Cambridge Theological Federation, the University of Birmingham, the University of Chester and the University of Manchester.
  • It is particularly designed to be taken on a part-time basis, with the possibility of completing Stage 1 full-time, which will be of particular interest to international students.
  • It is assessed by means of a portfolio of work, including a literature review, research proposal, publishable articles and a dissertation.

Find out more about the Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology.