Call for Applications: Psychology Cross-training Fellowship Programme for Theologians

Building Bridges Between Theology and Psychology

The fields of psychology and theology have multiple points of shared interest. Both psychologists and theologians take a strong interest in themes such as human personality, character and virtue, morality and ethics, and how we relate to one another as social creatures. There is great potential for theologians to enrich their work by considering insights and findings from the field of psychology, however all too often researchers in the two disciplines talk past one another. Both fields generate profound insights about what human beings are, what religion is and does, the nature of the world, and our knowledge of it, but the different methodological and explanatory frameworks of these disciplines are frequently viewed as incompatible or even in competition with one another.

The Fellowships

These fellowships are designed to provide the opportunity for theologians to break down disciplinary barriers and engage more deeply with psychological research to further theological exploration and practice. The fellowships will offer support for theologians to participate in an intensive 16-month programme in psychological cross-training, equipping them with the skills to draw upon insights from psychology and potentially providing them with funding to undertake psychologically informed theological research. The fellowships will build a community of science-engaged theologians who will be able to work independently or collaboratively to undertake new research, develop teaching materials incorporating psychological science, and raise the profile of this area of enquiry.

The 2023-2024 Fellowship Programme

Between 2023 and 2025, this programme will support two fellowship schemes, each focused upon an area of psychology with specific relevance to theology.

The 2023-2024 cohort will address the subject of how humans conceive of and think about divine realities. The cohort will explore questions about the representation of God, emotional and intellectual understanding of the divine, and the relationship between God representations and outcomes such as coping, health, therapy, discipleship, and faith leadership. This theme will be of interest to theologians investigating experiences of prayer, spirituality, and well-being, as well as those assessing the theological meanings of ritual, liturgy, scripture and other texts, including connections between cognition and representations of God found in traditions of interpretation and practice. 

While project Fellows will develop their own research within this theme, we anticipate that this theme may generate theological questions such as:

  • What can an understanding of religious cognition add to accounts of religious or mystical experience?
  • What difference/s do differing God representations make to Church leadership and/or community practices?
  • Does prayer have an effect on our dispositions?
  • How does the way that people think about God relate to scriptural representations of God? Or, what scriptural representations seem to have the most social impact on people’s God-representations?
  • What might attention to the cognitive, bodily person mean for understanding the Incarnation and/or the imago Dei? 
  • What distinguishes the God representations of particular communities or demographics, and what do they have to contribute to doctrine of God?
  • What difference does gender identity make to concepts of God?
  • Have domestic Eucharistic experiences during the pandemic made a difference to people’s concepts of God?
  • (How) does trauma change one’s understanding of our relationship with God?
  • How do representations of the Holy Spirit relate to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, in the ‘ordinary Christian’?

What will the Fellows be expected to do?

Successful applicants to the fellowship programme will be able to participate in the following fully funded activities:

  • Participation in two residential workshops held at Birmingham University, UK.  Residential workshop 1 (2 weeks) will provide a grounding in psychological methods, the psychology of divine realities, and their applications in theology.  Residential workshop 2 (1 week) will provide support for ongoing small research projects in science-engaged theology.  In order to support attendance at these events, Fellows will be awarded £1000 honoraria per workshop, as well as having their travel/accommodation expenses paid.
  • 12 monthly virtual half-day training workshops and one to one support with leading specialists in the fields of psychology and theology.
  • Applying for up to £20,000 to fund a research project, funded through the Fellowship programme, in science-engaged theology, applying psychological theory, methods, and findings to theological questions and debates.
  • Receiving support from leading specialists in psychology and/or the psychology of religion who will provide mentoring and support in developing and carrying out research projects.
  • Attendance at a final project conference to be held in 2025 bringing together two cohorts of programme Fellows and their psychologist mentors.

Through these activities, Fellows will be given the opportunity to join a cross-disciplinary community of researchers interested in conducting and collaborating on science-engaged theology. They will be equipped to understand foundational research in psychology, psychological research methods, and issues around psychological science and belief in society. They will take part in peer-to-peer working groups and have the opportunity to discuss the challenges and benefits of doing theology informed by psychological research, as well as present ideas to peers. They will be supported by a dedicated project team made up of both psychologists and theologians and supported by a range of advisors and mentors who are established in the field.

Applying for a Fellowship

Application materials

Applications to this scheme will consist of:

  1. a completed application form
  2. a three-page CV, and
  3. a letter of support from your institution

The application form can be found below and will ask you to outline your areas of research interest, explain your reasons for applying to this scheme, and explain how you will use the resources provided to advance your research and/or teaching.

Application Form (MS Word)

Please email your application materials to the project email address:


The fellowship programme is open to theologians from any country who are fluent in English. We would normally expect theologians to have completed a PhD or other terminal degree in Christian theology, or a closely related field, and to be active researchers in at least one field within Christian theology. We are keen to have a range of theological disciplines represented, including but not limited to Biblical studies, systematic theology, political theology, theological ethics, ecclesiology, mystical theology, spirituality, practical theology, philosophy of religion, etc. We welcome applicants who are at any stage of their academic career, and we have ringfenced a proportion of spaces for early career academics.


Applicants will be assessed based on their receptivity to multidisciplinary approaches, desire and capacity to engage with the full program, and future plans to implement the research informed by psychological methods and findings.  They will also need to demonstrate that they will have the capacity within their workload to engage with all aspects of the programme in order to be considered as Fellows, as well as providing explicit and clear support from their institution (supported by a letter from their head of department/school or equivalent).


Important dates

  • Fellowship application deadline: 27 March
  • Fellows announced: 24 April
  • Fellowship dates: July 2023 – October 2024, with capstone event in October 2025
  • Workshop 1: 24 July – 4 August 2023
  • Workshop 2: 8 April – 12 April 2024


For further information about this scheme please contact Dr Carissa Sharp at: