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MA Christian Spirituality

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 Christian Spirituality
  • PGDip Christian Spirituality

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

Please see further details on the maximum period of study.

Examine the spiritual traditions of Christianity in their historical and contemporary forms, and develop the ability to understand and evaluate the language, ideas and forms of Christian spirituality. You will focus on Christianity in its Western development.

The degree attracts people in ministry and teachers of religious education, as well as people whose professional life or vocational work involves religious questions.

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. You will have a choice of three optional modules. 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.

Core module

Foundations for the Study of Christian Spirituality

Examine theoretical issues surrounding religious experience and spirituality as an academic field which studies this experience.

The module will provide a foundation for the interdisciplinary academic study of spirituality.  The theoretical issues surrounding religious experience both as religious and ‘experience’ as such, and spirituality as an academic field which studies these experiences, will be investigated with a critical eye toward effective methodologies.  Students will have practical exposure to such methods by applying them to a spiritual classic.


Optional modules

Patterns of Spiritual Growth and Personal Transformation

Examine how historical and contemporary Christian writers and theologians have contributed to its understanding.

This module will have a historical section, in which students will examine critically and reflect upon the ways in which Christian spiritual writers and theologians in the past have described and conceptualized processes of personal growth and transformation within a context of Christian spirituality. The module will also have a contemporary section in which major recent and present-day contributions to the understanding of spiritual and personal growth and transformation, again within a largely Christian context, will be examined. Attempts will also be made to correlate these theories and patterns with contributions from psychological disciplines.

This module is taught every two in three years.
History of Christian Mysticism to the Reformation

Focus on the writings of the major writers including Augustine, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross to show how Christian mysticism emerged and developed.

This module focuses on the historical tradition of Christian mysticism in Western Christianity up to (not including) the Reformation, the period of its longest sustained development.  Seven major writers are treated in detail: Augustine, Dionysius the Areopagite, Bernard of Clairvaux, Hadewijch of Antwerp, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, and John of the Cross. Some further authors are studied for background, such as Origen.  The writings of these authors, in translation, are the central object of study, with historical and cultural considerations brought to their interpretation.  A nexus of key themes is followed through the texts and the historical period to show how Christian mysticism emerged and developed.  The emphasis is historical, to retrieve the medieval history of Christian mysticism for present discussion and nourishment.

This module is taught every two in three years.
Spiritual Direction in the Tradition of Ignatius of Loyola

Explore texts of Ignatian origin and those that emerge in the Ignatian tradition on spiritual direction.

This module will explore the art of spiritual direction in the tradition of Ignatius of Loyola. We will examine its development from texts of Ignatian origin as well as those that emerge from the tradition. The practice of spiritual direction as it arises from the Spiritual Exercises will be a central part of the module. While the foundational texts will be of historical origin we will also explore some aspects of contemporary interpretation of the tradition.

This module is taught every two in three years.
The Franciscan Spiritual Tradition: Faith, Reason and Spirituality

Explore the spiritual and theological tradition in the writings of Francis and Clare of Assisi, Bonaventure and John Duns Scotus.

This module will explore the spiritual and theological tradition that originated with St Francis of Assisi.  It firstly examines the spiritual writings of Francis and Clare of Assisi and the moves on to see how their experience was reflected upon and developed for a wider audience in the theological and spiritual writings of the early Franciscan writers, Bonaventure and John Duns Scotus.  The module will finally consider how the Franciscan tradition provides insights for issues of contemporary spirituality, including the Spirituality of Beauty and the Integrity of Creation.

This module is taught in alternate years.
Theology of Religious Life

Explore the call to religious life, its mission in the Church and the form its future might take. You will reflect critically on religious life from a broad spectrum of disciplines.

This module explores the theological foundations of life within religious congregations and orders. In an exploration of the Biblical, historical, spiritual and ecclesiological aspects of this life we will examine the concepts of vocation and charism, models of community, prayer and ecclesial life as well as looking at paradigms for the religious life of the future.  Source texts from various traditions and ecclesial documents will be studied together with contemporary writing on the consecrated life from a variety of contexts.  Students will be encouraged to reflect critically on religious life from a broad spectrum of disciplines.

Spirituality, Religion and Ethics in Contemporary Healthcare

Expand your understanding of spiritual, religious and ethical issues which are not normally part of medical formation.

Although broad in its scope, this module offers an academically rigorous and structured reflection on the subject of spirituality and its related themes from the fields of philosophy, theology and ethics. It is designed to enable healthcare professionals and all those interested in the subject to expand their understanding of spiritual, religious and ethical issues which are not normally part of medical formation, and encourages the development of a critical overview of the growing body of literature on this complex field. It explores such concepts as: ‘the human person’, ‘the meaning of life’, ‘care’ and ‘justice’ and examines the bases of (and some difficulties with) of the language of ‘human dignity’, ‘sickness’, ‘health’, ‘stigma’, ‘vulnerability’

Taught as an intensive module. Teaching dates for 2016/17 are yet to be published.

This module is taught as a four-day intensive course.