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MA Canon Law

Course length
  • 1 year full-time
  • Not available to study part-time
  • An honours degree (normally 2.1 or above) or equivalent in theology or in another appropriate subject
  • PGCert Canon Law
  • PGDip Canon Law

NB: This programme is only available for full-time study in 2016/17.

Please see further details on the maximum period of study

This study of Roman Catholic Canon Law grew from an interest in canon law outside of ecclesiastical circles and within the church since the Second Vatican Council and subsequent revision of canon law.

The programme attracts civil lawyers, theologians, priests, people engaged in parish work and religious education and people working on marriage tribunals.

The timetable for 2016-17 can be found in the Postgraduate Options Handbook at the bottom of the page.

Teaching & Assessment

The programme consists of four taught modules and a dissertation. Students are assessed in each module through a combination of coursework and an end of year essay. The final dissertation of 12,000 – 15,000 words is on a research topic agreed by your supervisor.


General Introduction to Canon Law

Look at the origin and growth of canon law.

Study the ecclesiology that is embodied in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, as contrasted with the 1917 Code.  You will cover the functions canon law performs in the Church, as well as guidelines for interpretation.  Selected canons on general norms will be analysed.

Marriage in Canon Law

Explore the meaning of marriage as a partnership of the whole life, and investigate consent, nullity and the effects of prenuptial agreements on these concepts. You will look at the difference between dissolution of marriage in the Roman Catholic Church and a civil divorce.

Central to this lecture and seminar module will be a consideration of the success or otherwise of attempting to translate the doctrine of Vatican II regarding marriage, into canonical categories. The substantive issue of matrimonial consent will be dealt with in detail, as well as the present law of canonical form. The module will end by examining the procedural law on marriage, particularly with regard to nullity, or invalidity

The People of God

Concentrate on: the development of rights in Western thought; a historical overview of rights in canon law; collections of law and Gratian; human rights and the Church; the1983 Code and the obligations and rights of all Christ's faithful, lay faithful, and clergy; the formation, incardination and excardination of clergy; the canon law of parishes and their reorganization; child protection, safeguarding and dismissal of clergy; the removal and transfer of parish priests; hierarchical and administrative recourse; and rights of defence.


Sacramental Law

Discuss the canons relating to the sacraments and their celebration.

This module introduces students to issues arising in Book IV of the 1983 Code of Canon Law relating to the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, reconciliation, anointing and orders.