Iain Shaw

Iain Shaw

Department of Theology and Religion
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Ministers’ Lived Experience of the Reasons for Suffering and Evil
Supervisor: Dr Amy Daughton and Professor Yujin Nagasawa
PhD Theology and Religion


  • BSC Physics, University of Bristol
  • PGCE, University of Bristol
  • EdD, University of Newcastle
  • BA Theology, Ministry and Mission, University of Durham


I taught science in secondary schools for more than thirty years, working with thousands of students and hundreds of colleagues.  During this time, I also had experience of most levels of leadership and management in secondary schools.  I set up one of the early school based initial teacher training projects, as well as a school based multiagency team, was a director of a ‘not for profit’ community development company and successfully bid for more than £10M for the schools I served in.  On retirement I was fortunate to be able to study Theology alongside ordinands and readers.

I have been a lay member of the Church of England all my life and I now support various projects within the Diocese of Newcastle including co-chairing the Committee for Ethnic and Interfaith Relations for the Diocese.


My research aims to explore the understandings of ordained and lay Ministers within the Church of England as to the reasons for suffering and evil in the world.  The plan is to use a grounded theory methodology to examine their views on why there is so much suffering when there is an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God in the world.

While completing studies at Durham, I read John Hick’s ‘Evil and the God of Love’ and spent my dissertation reflecting on how research on The Problem of Evil had developed over the following fifty years.  I was delighted to be accepted into John Hick’s old university department to further my studies.

I am using approaches within the field of Practical Theology to explore the lived experiences of Ministers within the Church of England and thereby develop an understanding of the range of ‘theological pathways of belief’ given the existence of God and the presence of suffering in the world.  Although the project lies within the discipline of Practical Theology, it also draws on recent research on The Problem of Evil in the field of Philosophy of Religion where ‘philosophical pathways’ have been explored as solutions to The Problem.  The use of Practical Theology techniques in a Philosophy of Religion context has not been used before to address this issue.  The aim is to contribute to the Church’s thinking on responding to suffering and evil. 

Other activities

  • Member of Society for the Study of Theology
  • Member of British and Irish Association for Practical Theology
  • Associate Member of Association of School and College Leaders
  • Deanery Finance Officer
  • Part-time grandchild carer


  • SHAW, I., NEWTON, D. P., AITKIN, M. and DARNELL, R. (2003) 'Do OFSTED Inspections of Secondary Schools Make a Difference to GCSE Results?', British Educational Research Journal,  29(1), pp. 63-75.