What do you learn at theological college?
Theology is the study of religion, and how it interacts with the world. Many universities offer courses in theology, or religious studies.
But if you come to a theological college, often the college will come from within a particular religion, and a particular tradition within that religion. You will learn how that tradition understands the divine, and what difference it might make in the world.
Some theological colleges also have a particular focus on training ministers for that religion. In that case, the teaching will ensure that the subjects covered are suitable for those who will be recognised ministers.
Here at Luther King Centre, we are a Christian theological college with a tradition coming from the dissenting or non-conforming protestant churches in Britain, but open and welcoming to all. We have had students from the Orthodox, Pentecostal and Catholic churches, to name just a few (find out more about our ethos here). Other colleges might be Anglican, or Catholic, or non-denominational.
Luther King Centre has mature students, some of whom are training for recognised ministry, and some studying theology with us out of interest or personal growth and development.
At Luther King Centre, we emphasise what we call contextual theology – we try to focus particularly on not just what God is like, but what God might be doing in a particular place here and now, and how we might join in.
What subjects do you study in theology?
Each theological college will offer a range of modules (courses) on a whole range of different areas. There can be great variety because you can take almost any aspect of human society, and ask ‘where is God in this?’
If the college is involved in training ministers, there is often a ‘core’ group of courses which will cover subjects particularly important for ministry.
These are likely to include:
- Learning more about the Bible (Old and New Testament)
- An introduction to theology
- Pastoral care
- The opportunity to study Greek and Hebrew
- Church history and how Christians have understood theology (in some places, this might be called doctrine)
There will usually be other options as well (some particularly aimed at church leaders and ministers), which might include:
- Engagement with local communities
- Working with children and young people
- Dealing with conflict
- Ecumenical relationships
- Inter-faith dialogue
- Social and political theologies
You can see the range of modules that Luther King Centre offers here.
Are theological colleges accredited?
It is always worth checking to see whether a degree from a theological college will be recognised by other institutions. Some in the UK have their own degree awarding powers. Many others are accredited by a University.
At the moment, many theological courses and colleges are accredited by the University of Durham (including most of the Church of England colleges and courses).
As an example, students at Luther King Centre study here, are taught by and assessed by Luther King Centre teaching staff. On successful completion, the final degree is awarded by the University of Durham.
Universities have close relationships with colleges they validate, to ensure that the standards required are maintained.
What is the difference between theological college, Bible college and seminary?
The difference between theological college, Bible college and seminary sometimes lies just in the name. Some people informally use them almost interchangeably.
Historically, Bible colleges tended to come from the evangelical tradition. Despite the name, often you will study more than just the Bible, and cover a similar range of topics to the ones listed above.
In the UK, seminaries tended to be associated with the Roman Catholic Church, but this is not the case elsewhere in the world, where some protestant and Jewish traditions use the word seminary. Theological college is perhaps the most commonly used term, both informally and for the official names of different institutions.
Luther King Centre is a little different – we describe ourselves officially as a partnership for theological education, because we are comprised of a number of colleges from different denominations working in partnership together. But we don’t mind if you just think of us as a theological college, Bible college or whatever is familiar to you.
Why do I need to study theology?
You may need to study theology if you want to become a recognised minister for a particular denomination or tradition. Some have a minimum educational level required for ministry – for example, to be an accredited Baptist minister in England you would need to reach at least Diploma level in theology.
What’s the difference between doing theology at a university and a theological college?
The differences between doing theology at a university and a theological college are these:
Many universities do not have a particular ‘faith’ context; in contrast, most theological colleges will be grounded in a committed faith position. Luther King Centre is a Christian environment.
Theological colleges are often explicitly set up to train ministers or church leaders. A substantial number of the students at Luther King Centre are training for Baptist or United Reformed church ministry. Others may be studying to support their accreditation as Ministers or lay ministries in many other churches and denominations.
You may find far more mature students (ie not just 18-21 year olds) at a theological college. Luther King Centre has students of all ages from early twenties to retirement age.
Where can I study theology?
There are a variety of universities and colleges where you can study theology. In the UK, this includes universities such as Durham, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Chester, Exeter and many more. Some of these lead the world academically.
There are also different theological colleges over the UK. Luther King Centre is based in Manchester, and we offer qualifications from certificate level through to PhD. Our undergraduate and Postgraduate courses are open for application. To see more information about our undergraduate courses click here, and for our postgraduate courses click here, or here for our postgraduate chaplaincy studies courses.
What are the benefits of studying theology?
Theology touches on the most important parts of our lives and meaning. It looks at the big questions like why are we here, and how should we live. These questions go back thousands of years, yet are still fresh today.
Religion also shapes cultures, so if you are seeking to understand the world better, then theology can help make sense of how and why people act and cultures develop.
Theology is also varied – it touches on history, science, psychology, film, art, and many more areas.
What are the entry requirements for theology degrees?
The entry requirements vary from institution to institution. For universities, try checking out the complete university guide [https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/courses/search/undergraduate/theology-and-religious-studies]
However, many theological colleges won’t be represented in this list. You will need to contact them directly.
Here at Luther King Centre, we have standard entry requirements, but also recognise that some adults may wish to study who have non-standard entry qualifications. You can find out more here.
What jobs can a theology degree lead to?
Not just a vicar!
Whilst many people do study theology because they are training for some form of Christian leadership, many others enjoy the subject in its own right, and go on to a wide range of careers.
Employers often value the varied transferable skills that learning theology gives students. These include:
- An understanding of what is important to other people.
- Communication skills, both written and verbal.
- An ability to conduct independent and rigorous research.
- An ability to present arguments.
- An appreciation of the effect of culture.
Theology is not just an important, but also a fascinating area to study. It is varied and holistic, embracing all parts of culture and history.
Theological colleges help you unpack these areas in a supportive, faith-based environment, which will be particularly helpful if preparing for leadership or ministry in a particular tradition or denomination.
If you’re interested in studying theology, why not contact us here at Luther King Centre, and find out more?