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St Mary's University

Professional Doctorate in Ministry DMin

Distance learning available


Student visa accepted?



4-7 years (part-time)

The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023: Top 10 for Student ExperienceThe Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023: Top 5 for Teaching Quality

The Professional Doctorate in Ministry (DMin) is a unique opportunity to combine theological reflection and ministerial practice leading to a doctoral level qualification.

  • Bespoke tutoring from St Mary’s world-leading theological faculty
  • An opportunity to combine study and practice at a higher educational level

We live in rapidly changing times. Accordingly, the Theology Faculty at St Mary’s has decided to initiate a new Doctorate in Ministry in order to help ministers to respond to the challenges of modern ministry whilst also contributing to the growing academic resources available.

In this respect the course has two main elements: first, the opportunity for theological, philosophical and ethical reflection on the nature of ministry and, secondly, the provision of a skill-set for practitioners to contribute to academic knowledge of ministry by developing their own original doctoral-level research thesis.

Thus, the programme may appeal to a range of ministerial needs such as:

  • A refresher course, sabbatical or part of continuing ministerial development
  • An opportunity to engage with the latest theological perspectives on ministry
  • Personal growth and development
  • An opportunity to take stock of current ministry
  • An ability to acquire deeper ministerial skills
  • A chance to meet other ministers facing similar challenges
  • An opportunity to make a significant contribution to academic reflection on ministry

Why St Mary's

We're widely recognised as an international leader in theological education. As a Catholic foundation begun in 1850 we take our theological roots seriously and strive to represent the best of the Catholic tradition in our approaches. However, with roots deep in that tradition we also have wider ecumenical branches and currently welcome students from all denominations and none.

From 2019 we have also welcomed the Pontifical College of Mater Ecclesia to the campus enabling us to further fulfil our original mission to bring theological education to those in ministry and training for the ministry.

As well as a beautiful campus in West London we also have up-to-date online facilities to enable online learning for those who need it. Our strongest asset remains are dedicated and skilled teaching staff, however the extensive library also boasts considerable resources for students including the recently acquired Franciscan Study Collection and the Centre for Marian Studies Collection.

The DMin is also offered at our Edinburgh Campus at the Gillis Centre. Supervision and teaching on the DMin through St Mary’s Edinburgh Campus will principally be online. Select in-person supervision may be arranged in Edinburgh as well as opportunities to visit the Twickenham campus.

For more information please submit an enquiry to the course lead.

Aims of the course

The primary aims of the course are twofold: fostering the integration of academic and ministerial knowledge and values; and supporting student development as autonomous, ethical and self-reflective researchers with the foundations successfully to conceptualize, design and implement a rigorous and original schema of research leading to the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding in a ministerial field.

Accordingly, the aims of the course can be summarised as follows to:

  • attract students of a variety of ages and academic backgrounds to develop and expand their range of theological skills and knowledge.
  • provide students with a range of learning experiences that are supported by a variety of teaching approaches and delivered in a supportive learning environment.
  • offer to students the opportunity to explore and reflect critically upon theological studies with a particular regard to the richness of Christian ministry.
  • develop an informed awareness of the dynamic nature of the Christian ministerial tradition and a developed facility in the theological task of subjecting this tradition to a process of testing and renewal.
  • draw on a variety of academic disciplines and discourses to enable students to reflect critically on Christian ministry.
  • foster in students an ability to relate areas of ministry to broader areas of human understanding and life.
  • use the research interests of staff to inform and enhance the students’ learning experience.
  • promote the development of key transferable skills that will assist students in their career options.
  • equip students to undertake original research at doctoral level.

Prof Peter Tyler

Professor - Pastoral Theology and Spirituality

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Course content


Optional modules may be substituted from the following modules in the other St Mary’s Level 7 pathways:

  • Spiritual Direction, Psychology and Spiritual Formation 
  • Systematic Theology and Contemporary Themes 
  • Theologies of Liberation and Political Theology 

Students may attend these modules with prior approval of the Programme Directors concerned.

Please note: it is possible that a module listed on the website will not be able to run due to reasons beyond our control. For more information please refer to our course information disclaimer.

Ethical and Social Issues of Ministry

Research Skills and Methods

Engaging with Research: Research, Practice and the Political

Yourself as Researcher: Personal Identities and Values

Engaging in Theological Reflection

Research Proposal


Entry requirements

Students will be accepted on the programme if they have an Upper Second Class Honours Degree or equivalent.

In some circumstances, other qualifications will be accepted after interview, or (exceptionally) other relevant experience and study with evidence of the ability to engage with such a programme (subject to approval by the Academic Registrar on the advice of the Programme Director).

Additional requirement information

Candidates may have prior learning accredited on the basis that they can provide the Programme Director with appropriate evidence of their prior learning, such as: written independent work; formal or informal testimony from others concerning their previous learning; publications to which they have contributed; teaching materials or reports they have created; written or oral evidence of relevant knowledge and reading.

The relevance, status and currency of the prior learning will be considered by the Academic Registrar on the advice of the Programme Director. The maximum number of credits for which exemption may be given are:

  • PGCert: up to 30 credits
  • PGDip: up to 60 credits
  • Master’s: up to 90 credits
  • DMin: up to 120 credits

Ideally, potential students for the course should have engaged in, be engaged in, or about to engage in, ministerial practice. If this is not the case the Programme Director will advise on their suitability for the course.

Further Information

For more information about entry requirements please email

Fees & funding

September 2024





Additional costs

Your tuition fees will cover the cost of all mandatory elements of your programme. Additional costs could be incurred depending on optional modules chosen and other projects undertaken.

For further information about additional costs please see our additional costs webpage


Some research degree students may be eligible for a government loan of up to £25,000 to help cover tuition fees and living costs.

How the degree is taught

Teaching methods

The programme comprises 540 credits in two distinct parts. In the first part of the programme students study 7 modules totalling 180 credits. These modules are taught and assessed at level 7 and are normally undertaken over a period of two years. This is designed to enable students to develop their skills in research, writing and academic scholarship at Masters Level/Level 7 progressing to the Part 2 Level 8 Thesis. The Higher Education Credit Framework (2008) notes that learning at Level 8 will reflect the ability to: “make a significant and original contribution to a specialised field of inquiry, demonstrating a command of methodological issues and engaging in critical dialogue with peers and accepting full accountability for outcomes.”

Progression to the Part Two Level 8 programme is contingent upon satisfactory completion of Part One. A key bridging component between these two parts is the Research Proposal. Emerging significantly in the second year of taught study, it culminates in a substantial proposal which will identify the significant and original contribution it is proposed to make and delineate methodologically how this will be achieved.

Career opportunities

It is anticipated that many students will study part-time as continuing professional development, alongside various forms of Christian ministry and leadership, or for personal interest; for such people, the programme will enhance their future employability, including in more senior roles.

Some will acquire an enhanced education in ministry which would open specific opportunities in teaching and HE lecturing and work with Christian or other charities and agencies. The programme will also provide an education which sensitises students to engaging with religious and ethical ideas from other times, cultures and places, and thus will equip them for work engaging with cross-cultural situations, such as non-governmental organisations in the UK and overseas, international relations, the media and the Civil Service.

The course is primarily, though not exclusively, intended for Christians of any tradition. Potential students include clergy, ordinands, people in lay ministries, teachers of religious studies and those with an interest in spiritual matters. The study of ministry at the University will take place within the context of a believing Christian community.

Christian ministers taking the course part-time are likely to be engaged already in service in particular contexts, and will be encouraged and supported to make explicit connections between their studies and their ministries — the programme team do not anticipate that a specific ‘placement’ would be helpful or desirable (or, for that matter, practical) for such students. Since it is anticipated that the majority of students taking the course will be more mature and already be engaged in ministry, they will have the necessary experience of life and the world to draw upon in making these connections.

To engage in reflection on ministry in relation to today’s world will necessarily involve students being critically self-reflective about their world-view, mind-set, and approach to life and society, and features of modules, both core and optional, will encourage such critical self-reflection.

The increasing occurrence of reflection on ministry in areas such as healthcare, psychology and education will help students to find a means to employment in these other diverse work-places. Some of the teaching will take place with students engaging in other St Mary’s professional doctorates and postgraduate courses, which will again encourage exchange of ideas and viewpoints.

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