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The degree is designed to give students who are in formation for ordained ministry in the Church the basic theological skills for pastoral ministry in parishes and other settings. 

  • The degree is taught in formation days on Saturdays (roughly every three weeks) at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh (near Guildford)
  • Part-time over two years including 11 formation days and two residential weekends each year
  • After completing the Foundation degree students normally enroll for their third year of formation on the MA in Theology degree

Why study Pastoral Ministry?

The Pastoral Ministry FdA is a partnership programme with the Permanent Diaconate Formation Programme for the dioceses of Southwark, Westminster, Cardiff, Arundel and Brighton, Brentwood, East Anglia, Northampton and Plymouth, and the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Why St Mary's?

Students on the Foundation degree in Pastoral Ministry are studying for this as a major part of their formation as permanent deacons in the Roman Catholic Church. Since 2009 St Mary’s has been linked to the Diaconate Formation programme for nine dioceses in England and Wales (Southwark, Westminster, Cardiff, Arundel and Brighton, Brentwood, East Anglia, Northampton, Plymouth and Portsmouth), which currently numbers around 45 students.

The Diaconate Formation programme is administered by diocesan directors appointed by the bishops and by a Dean of Studies. Most of the teaching takes place in monthly formation days at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh (near Guildford) together with sessions that the students have with local mentors, blended online learning and residential weekends. The programme is the largest diaconate training course in the British Isles and one of the largest clerical formation communities.

The overall academic programme is three and a half years long. Students study for the Foundation degree in their first two years; from the academic year 2010-2011 those in the third year of formation who have gained this Foundation degree will be studying for level 3 modules from St Mary’s honours degree in Theology and Religious Studies and will be able to use these to progress to a BA Theology.

Those who feel called to the permanent diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church should contact their local parish priest.

Fr Ashley Beck
Dean of Studies, PDFP, Senior Lecturer at St Mary’s

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Entry requirements

N/A UCAS points required

View alternative requirements

To calculate your expected UCAS points, please use the UCAS Tariff calculator.

Applicants should have at least a GCSE or equivalent in English Language.

Students are enrolled on the programme after they have been accepted for formation for the diaconate by their diocesan bishop or Ordinary. For more details contact the Programme Director, the Revd Dr Ashley Beck,

Requirements for other qualifications (including BTECs, Irish Highers, Scottish Highers, International Baccalaureates and Access Courses) are also available. For more information please email

We will make you an offer if you are within the tariff band range and you meet subject-specific requirements (where applicable).

International requirements

International students should check our country-specific pages for equivalents. If English is not your first language you will need to achieve an IELTS score of 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in any section (or equivalent).

We now accept IELTS Indicator test results as proof of your English language level.

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Course content

Year one

  • Foundations for the Study of Theology Core
  • Foundations for the Study of Scripture Core
  • Foundations of the Sacraments and Liturgy Core
  • Foundations of Christian Ethics Optional
  • The Diaconate in the context of the Threefold Ministry Optional
  • Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations Optional

Year two

  • The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Person of Jesus Christ Core
  • Christian Spirituality Core
  • Church History and Canon Law Core
  • Catechetics Optional
  • Marriage Optional
  • Scripture II Optional

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.

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Career opportunities

The Careers Service has more information on graduate careers and part-time work available during your course.

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How the degree is taught

Teaching methods

You'll be taught on our beautiful and historic campus located in Twickenham, London.

The degree is taught in formation days on Saturdays (roughly every three weeks) at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh (near Guildford) and residential weekends elsewhere, consisting of lectures and seminars, alongside prayer and corporate worship. Local one-to-one tuition also takes place between formation days.

Class sizes usually range from 10 to 20 students.

Teaching breakdown

Learning on the course is made up through a combination of:

  • Contact time: 5%
  • Work-based learning: 50%
  • Guided learning: 5%
  • Independent study: 40%

Independent study is a key feature of your degree and is crucial to furthering your knowledge.

You will receive your timetable a week before teaching is due to start at the latest.

Assessment methods

Year One (Level 4)

In work for all modules in year one students will be introduced to the basic theory and practice of preaching, with practical work on posture, voice production and microphone use. The relationship will be explored between preaching and the various areas of pastoral ministry. There will be preliminary workshops concentrating on the basics of preaching technique.

Year Two (Level 5)

In all the modules of Level 5, work will be done on the continuing development of preaching skills as the student grows in theological confidence. This will focus primarily on preaching at Sunday celebrations, but also on reflections given during the week. Specific work will be done on different preaching techniques at different types of Eucharistic celebration, and on the demands of different church buildings. At the end of the second year, assessment will include some written work under examination conditions


We adhere to the university’s policy of providing feedback on assessments within three weeks.

See how your final degree mark is calculated...

Compensated passes

Please refer to the information on compensated passes throughout your degree as outlined in the academic regulations.

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Fees and funding

2021/22 fees

  • Home: coming soon
  • International: £12,900

Information about tuition fees, student loans and funding your studies can be found within our fees and funding section.

The UK Government has confirmed that EU applicants starting in 2020 remain eligible for 'home fee status' and can access financial support.

Additional costs

Your tuition fees will cover the cost of all mandatory elements of your programme.

There are no additional costs for students. Fees are paid entirely by the dioceses within the collaborative programme, who also cover costs for meals and accommodation at the formation days and weekends.


A range of scholarships and bursaries are available to new foundation students. This includes:

Living costs

A guide to your living costs has been created by our Student Funding Team.

Accommodation costs vary depending on whether you opt for an en suite room and on-site catering. Take a look at our accommodation options and the prices you can expect to pay.

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Further information

Teaching staff

Revd Dr Ashely Beck profile photo Revd Dr Ashely Beck
Senior Lecturer - Pastoral Ministry

Prof Peter Tyler profile photo Prof Peter Tyler
Professor - Pastoral Theology and Spirituality

Karen North Karen North
Senior Lecturer

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Visit the campus

Open days

Attending an open day is a fantastic opportunity to get an insight into what life is like as a St Mary's student. During the day you'll have the chance to:

  • Speak to current students to hear about their experiences so far
  • Meet your future academics to put a name and a face to who you'll be learning from
  • Take a tour of the University and the on-campus accommodation options
  • Get involved with activities going on across campus as you explore new surroundings

Book your place now

Campus tours

There are plenty of opportunities for you to explore the campus, even if you can't make it to an Open Day.

We run campus tours every Wednesday at 12pm. If you'd like to join us for one of these tours please register your place for your preferred day.

Virtual tour

We know that for it's important to you to see where you'll be living and studying before you make your decision. However, we also know that for many people it's not always easy to make it to the campus.

That's why we've developed a virtual tour of campus, allowing you to explore that facilities and the beautiful views that we have to offer.

Launch the virtual tour

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