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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. 

  • 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.

The Foundation degree in Pastoral Ministry is taught as part of a collaborative relationship between St Marys and seven Roman Catholic dioceses in southern England Wales, for those in formation to become permanent deacons. You can only study for the degree if you have been accepted for formation by your Bishop. If you’re interested in becoming a deacon you should first contact your parish priest.

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 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.

Course lead

Revd Dr Ashley Beck headshotRevd Dr Ashley Beck
Senior Lecturer - Pastoral Ministry

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Entry requirements

The Foundation degree in Pastoral Ministry is taught as part of a collaborative relationship between St Marys and seven Roman Catholic dioceses in southern England Wales, for those in formation to become permanent deacons. You can only study for the degree if you have been accepted for formation by your Bishop. If you’re interested in becoming a deacon you should first contact your parish priest.

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,


Applicants should have at least a GCSE grade 4/C (or equivalent) in English Language. We offer GCSE equivalency tests for those who need to improve their GCSE grades.

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).

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Course content

Year one

  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Optional
  •  Optional
  •  Optional

Year two

  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Optional
  •  Optional
  •  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 and residential weekends, 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

2023/24 fees

  • Home: £9,250
  • International: £14,850

*Please note: tuition fees are subject to an inflationary increase each year, meaning if your course runs over more than one academic year you may pay an increased fee for each subsequent year of study. Tuition fee increases for returning students will be capped at the higher of 5% per annum or the rate of Consumer Price Index inflation in the United Kingdom.

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

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 undergraduate 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

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Visit the campus

Upcoming open days

Meet current students, explore our green campus, and find out why St Mary’s could be the place for you.

You'll also get a chance to:

Staff from various teams, including the Student’s Union, Student Funding, and Admissions, will also be around to discuss any questions you may have about studying at St Mary’s.

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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