Practical Theology Doctorate (DPT)

The Doctor of Practical Theology is a practice-based doctoral level degree.

It provides a unique opportunity for practitioners in a wide variety of settings to work with peers from similar and different professional and voluntary contexts to gain a practice-based and relevant research degree by staged part-time work.

Throughout the DPT programme you will be supported to:

  • Analyse case studies
  • Acquire relevant research methods
  • Identify appropriate research questions
  • Design research strategies
  • Develop communication and dissemination skills
  • Make use of peer/academic support and critique to improve your work

John Barnett

“This programme has enabled me to discover new dimensions in my work as an interfaith officer and as a parish minister. Reflecting on what I am doing and its theological significance is improving both my professional practice and my theological understanding. The supportive engagement from fellow students in study days makes this a different type of doctoral study. ”

The programme is designed particularly for part-time students (though it may be possible to take it full-time) and you will be encouraged to use your professional, voluntary or ministerial practice as the foundation for your structured research in practical theology.

The DPT is suitable for all those actively involved in professional or substantial voluntary work across a range of contexts and institutions, who want to examine the implications of action guiding beliefs, values, and ideologies (‘theologies’) for their practices, and vice versa.  A variety of social science and other methodologies can be used to research practice and contexts.

It consists of three introductory modules and a final dissertation, permitting a staged approach to research. Assessment is by a portfolio of work including a literature review, a publishable article, a research proposal and a final 50,000-word dissertation.

You will be supported throughout by regular supervision, seminars, and workshops with peer and academic engagement. There will also be a summer school drawing together professional doctoral students in practical theology from other universities offering this programme.

Profiles of our current Theology and Religion doctoral researchers

At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.

Why study this course

  • At the heart of professional doctorates like the DPT is a dynamic relationship between theory and practice. All doctoral research represents a contribution to knowledge and understanding within a particular academic discipline. The professional doctorate also generates evidence- or practice-based research that informs and enhances understanding and options for action in a particular professional/institutional context.
  • The staged and part-time nature of this programme make it particularly suitable for people in mid-career who are looking to develop themselves professionally and academically in a sequential way supported by a cohort of fellow learners and day school events
  • Students on the course have the benefit of meeting major national and international scholars at seminars, workshops and a summer school that includes candidates doing similar doctorates at other Universities
  • The modern study of Practical Theology in the UK started in Birmingham in the 1960s and it has spread out to many centres from here, as well as having a long tradition in this institution.
  • The University of Birmingham has built up good relationships and partnerships with Birmingham's many different communities, and such a rich cultural mix means that it provides an ideal setting to study the relations between Religion and Culture. The city is recognised as one of the most multicultural cities in Europe, with representation from most religious traditions, some of whom participate in the DPT programme

Related staff

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17:

  • Home / EU £4,110 full-time; £2,055 part-time*
  • Overseas: £13,680 full-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2016.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuituion fees and funding.

Entry requirements

Normally a 2:1 degree in a relevant discipline is required for entry. Candidates will also require a suitable base in practice to be accepted on this course

We welcome applications from:

  • Public sector professionals in health, education and social services
  • Active members of caring professions such as psychotherapy, counselling, nursing, social work, community development
  • Those involved in religious ministry in parish, congregational, or chaplaincy settings
  • People working in charities, non-governmental organizations, in the cultural industries, or in the arts
  • Those involved in industry or business wishing to deepen their understanding of the ethical and theological dimensions of their practice

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Additional Guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Making your application


When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

You will be supported throughout by regular supervision, seminars, and workshops with peer and academic engagement.

There will also be a summer school drawing together professional doctoral  students in practical theology from other universities offering this programme.

As a postgraduate on this programme, you’ll also become part of, and contribute to, the vibrant international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

In addition, the global edition of The New York Times has ranked the University 60th in the world and 9th in UK for post-qualification employability. The rankings illustrate the top 150 universities most frequently selected by global employers and are the result of a survey by French consulting firm Emerging and German consulting firm Trendence.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

University of the Year for employability

Birmingham’s Theology graduates develop a broad range of transferable skills including: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on statistical research.

Over the past five years, over 92% of our postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Many of our graduates go into careers in churches of various denominations. For those in further study, teacher training courses remain a popular choice. Other students use their transferable skills in a range of employment sectors, including local government, education and charities. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include: British Council; Church of England; Institute of Education; International Greek New Testament Project; Quaker Homeless Action; Queens Ecumenical Theological College; and University of Birmingham.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.


Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.