Zoe Bennett with students

The Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology was launched in 2006. It is offered by Anglia Ruskin University in cooperation with the Cambridge Theological Federation. We are part of a national consortium offering this award and participants meet together in a Summer School every year with candidates and staff from the Universities of Aberdeen, Birmingham, Chester and Glasgow.

  • The Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology is a practice-based research degree aimed at participants in a variety of professional and/or voluntary contexts.
  • It is particularly designed to be taken on a part-time basis.
  • Participants will be encouraged to use their professional, voluntary or ministerial practice as the foundation of a structured process of research in practical theology.
  • Participants will be supported throughout by a regular series of supervisions, seminars and workshops.
  • The Professional Doctorate is assessed by means of a portfolio of work, comprising three Stage 1 papers of 7,000 words each, exploring context, literature and research methods, and a Stage 2 dissertation of 59,000 words

Professional Doctorates are designed to take explicit account of your work or practice-based setting. This reflects the need for structured forms of professional development in many areas of the public, private and voluntary sector. The programme is therefore designed to 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. Your own professional context becomes a primary research resource

A Professional Doctorate is suitable for you if the research you wish to undertake arises from your practice. The programme is designed for participants across a range of contexts and institutions:

  • Public sector professions, such as health care, education, social services;
  • Those working in the caring professions, such as psychotherapy and counselling, social work and community development;
  • Ministers of religion in parish, congregational or chaplaincy settings;
  • Those working for charities, non-governmental organizations 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.

The programme is designed to appeal to those interested in relating theological, ethical and spiritual insights and methods to their own professional and/or voluntary practice.

Participants are not required to have a personal faith-commitment but they should be interested in the role of religion, theology and ethics in relation to a range of contexts ranging from social policy, management, politics, health care, community work, congregational ministry and institutional chaplaincy.

  • In order to satisfy the entry requirements, candidates will normally need to hold a Bachelor’s degree (1st or 2:1) and a Master’s degree in theology or related subject, plus appropriate professional accreditation or experience.
  • Those for whom English is not their first language will be required to demonstrate a proficiency of IELTS 6.5 and to have achieved a minimum of English Language Competence of at least IELTS 5.5 across all 4 disciplines: writing, reading, speaking and listening.
  • Candidates will need to have ready access to and facility with e-mail and internet communication.
  • Candidates will be required to give evidence of the ability to work well with others in a group context.
  • Please note that it is the responsibility of individual international candidates to check the status and equivalence of the awards in their home country.
Length of Study:

The programme is available over 3-6 years part-time. It is possible under exceptional circumstances to take Stage I on a full time basis. Enquiries should be made to the Course Director for regulations.

Workload and student support:

For part-time students, we will expect you to set aside around 6-8 hours for independent work per week. That will include research and reading, and maintaining a regular research journal.

You will be assigned a personal supervisor, who will want to see you approximately six times per academic year.

In addition to regular supervisions, you will normally attend a 3 day summer school in mid-July and 4 workshops per year, covering all aspects of the discipline of practical theology. Workshops will include research skills and methodology, student papers, presentations by former successful candidates, and external speakers. This material is made available on the Cambridge Theological Federation’s VLE for those who are not able to attend in person in Cambridge.

Anglia Ruskin University offers a range of excellent research training, of which one element is compulsory, and will involve you attending in Cambridge or Chelmsford 4 times throughout your studies. For international students this training is delivered during the July week in Cambridge.

Prospective candidates who would like to attend one of these seminar days to find out more about the Professional Doctorate would be most welcome. Please contact the Course Director, Zoë Bennett (zb200@cam.ac.uk)

The current fee set by Anglia Ruskin University for this programme is £2520 per year for part time UK/EU students. For International part time students, the fee is £5880 per annum (Visa restrictions apply).

It is possible under exceptional circumstances to take Stage I on a full time basis. Enquiries should be made to the Course Director for regulations. The fees for full time study would be £4200 per annum for UK/EU and £9500 per annum for International students.

In addition to course fees, you should budget for attendance at the summer school in July. There are no tuition fees for these events, although you will need to find your own overnight accommodation and pay for some meals.

International students working overseas need every year to spend 2 weeks in July in the UK at specified dates in order to attend the Summer School, and research training in Cambridge. You should budget for travel and accommodation costs, but the International fee covers all Summer School costs.

Supervision and other academic support for the programme will be drawn from staff of the Cambridge Theological Federation and Anglia Ruskin University, with the opportunity to draw on nationally available supervision for Stage 2 of your research.

Online Applications

Please visit our Applications page for further details.

Further information may be obtained from the Course Director Dr Zoë Bennett by e-mail, zb200@cam.ac.uk or telephone (0) 1223 760080.