Degree awards in Public Worship

Awards in public worship

The Western Orthodox University Faculties of Theology and Church Music offer a progressive scheme of awards in public worship at postsecondary level. The awards are available by three pathways: dissertation, spoken word, and music. Each is designed to test the skills required by those leading Christian worship at a high standard. The awards are non-denominational and are open to public worship leaders, both ordained and lay, from any tradition of Christian ministry. In the rubrics below, the classical Anglican tradition acts as a model; where the candidate is from a different Christian tradition appropriate substitutions may be made at the University’s discretion.

The awards are mapped to the levels established by UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) (2011 edition) for easy comparability across different educational systems.

In Spoken Word awards, the edition of the Bible shall be, at the candidate’s choice, either the Authorized (King James) version, Douay-Rheims, or the New International Version (any edition).

Certificate of Higher Education in Public Worship (Cert.H.E.(P.W.)) (UNESCO ISCED level 5)

Candidates should have graduated from high school.

Research pathway
The research pathway to the Certificate of Higher Education in Public Worship requires the submission of a dissertation of approximately 5,000-6,000 words in length, on a subject approved by the University. Such subjects might include the theology of the liturgy, its history, ceremonial, ornaments, or music. The award is assessed at a level approximately corresponding to the first year of a degree programme. The dissertation should be referenced according to the Harvard system, and present a well-informed and clearly structured account of its subject, displaying a critical interaction with the source material.

Spoken word pathway
The spoken word pathway to the Certificate of Higher Education in Public Worship requires the candidate to read aloud three passages of Holy Scripture chosen by the University from the Bible, and communicated to the candidate approximately four weeks before the examination. Before reading each passage, the candidate must introduce the passage briefly to the examiner, placing it in its theological context. Such an introduction need not be lengthy (one or two paragraphs) and is designed to demonstrate the candidate’s understanding of the significance of the readings. The examiner will be looking for clear diction, good vocal projection, the following of punctuation marks, logical pronunciation of Biblical names, a natural style, and professional deportment. A higher level of accuracy in reading is required at diploma level than in graded speech examinations, and any major errors will not normally attract a pass mark. Examinations take place either in person (depending on the availability of examiners) or via distance. In a distance examination, the examination takes place before an approved proctor (who is not an examiner, but is there to certify the conduct of the examination and the authenticity of the submission) and is then submitted as a video recording.

Music pathway
The music pathway to the Certificate of Higher Education in Public Worship is intended for organists of intermediate standard. The candidate is required to accompany a public act of worship including at least three hymns, and to provide voluntaries before and after the service of not less than grade 5 standard. The pedals should be used in the playing of hymns and at least two of the voluntaries, and at least five minutes of music should be provided before the service. A higher level of accuracy in reading is required at diploma level than in graded music examinations, and any major errors will not normally attract a pass mark. The examiner will be looking for accurate timing, a clean legato touch, confident changes of registration during the hymns, and idiomatic touch and registration during the voluntaries. Candidates are required to seek the approval of the University for their musical choices at least three weeks before the proposed date of the examination, and may be asked to provide copies of hymn-tunes and voluntaries for the examiner. Examinations take place either (when sufficient candidates are entered and an examiner is available) at a church or chapel with a visiting examiner, or via distance. In a distance examination, the examination takes place before an approved proctor (who is not an examiner, but is there to certify the conduct of the examination and the authenticity of the submission) and is then submitted as a video recording.

Associate of Ministry in Public Worship (A.Min.(P.W.)) (UNESCO ISCED level 5)

Candidates should hold the Certificate of Higher Education in Public Worship or an equivalent credential.

Research pathway
The research pathway to the Associate of Ministry in Public Worship requires the submission of a dissertation of approximately 8,000-10,000 words in length, on a subject approved by the University. Such subjects might include the theology of the liturgy, its history, ceremonial, ornaments, or music. The award is assessed at a level corresponding to the second year of a degree programme. The dissertation should be closely referenced according to the Harvard system, and should consist of a tightly-structured and closely argued discussion of the subject, as well as a thoroughgoing command of the relevant source material.

Spoken word pathway
The spoken word pathway to the Associate of Ministry in Public Worship requires the candidate to prepare and lead a said office (usually either Morning or Evening Prayer), including all of the appropriate material for the day as given in the lectionary, and also to write and preach a brief sermon of around five minutes’ duration, a copy of which must be submitted to the University at least one week before the date of examination. The candidate must read both lessons, but may alternate with the congregation, if present, in the saying of the Psalms. The examiner will be looking for the same good practices in reading as specified for the Certificate of Higher Education above, but will allow for a smaller margin of error at Diploma of Higher Education level. Examinations take place either (when sufficient candidates are entered and an examiner is available) at a church or chapel with a visiting examiner, or via distance. In a distance examination, the examination takes place before an approved proctor (who is not an examiner, but is there to certify the conduct of the examination and the authenticity of the submission) and is then submitted as a video recording.

Music pathway
The music pathway to the Associate of Ministry in Public Worship is intended for organists of advanced standard. The candidate is required to accompany a service of Choral Matins or Evensong, including free canticles, an anthem, at least two hymns, and psalms sung either to Anglican chant or plainchant. In addition, the candidate must perform voluntaries of at least grade 7 standard before and after the service, providing at least five minutes’ music beforehand. The examiner will expect a fully professional standard of performance. Candidates are permitted to engage an assistant to turn pages and aid in managing registration during more complex works, but should not rely upon such assistance during hymns or psalms. Examinations take place either (when sufficient candidates are entered and an examiner is available) at a church or chapel with a visiting examiner, or via distance. In a distance examination, the examination takes place before an approved proctor (who is not an examiner, but is there to certify the conduct of the examination and the authenticity of the submission) and is then submitted as a video recording.

Bachelor of Ministry in Public Worship (B.Min.(P.W.)) (UNESCO ISCED level 6)

Candidates should hold the Associate of Ministry in Public Worship or an equivalent credential.

The degree may be earned through the preparation and submission of a Major Project (Creative Senior Study) of 30,000 words on a topic approved by the University related to public worship. The Project can combine any or all of the following elements, the exact balance to be decided through the submission of a learning contract and its approval by the University:

  • Research – which is not required to be original, but which should be a systematic and critical exposition of existing thought in a given area.
  • Spoken word – which would normally consist of a series of assessments accompanied by a written exposition and critical commentary.
  • Music – which would normally consist of a series of assessments accompanied by a written exposition and critical commentary.

Candidates who wish to earn a Pass Degree solely, and who do not wish to be candidates for classed Honours, may substitute a series of three monographs of 8,000 words each, or projects considered to be equivalent by the University.

Postgraduate Diploma in Public Worship (P.G.Dip(P.W.)) (UNESCO ISCED level 7)

Candidates should hold either the Bachelor of Ministry in Public Worship degree or an equivalent credential.

Research pathway
The research pathway to the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Worship requires the submission of a dissertation of approximately 12,000-15,000 words in length, on a subject approved by the University. Such subjects might include the theology of the liturgy, its history, ceremonial, ornaments, or music. The diploma is assessed at a level approximately corresponding to half of a taught master’s degree programme. The dissertation should include a certain amount of primary source research where such will add materially to the comprehensiveness of the study, and should be closely referenced using the Harvard system. A P.G.Dip. dissertation should demonstrate a comprehensive command of the subject, allied with a fully professional standard of academic writing.

Spoken word pathway
The spoken word pathway to the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Worship is intended primarily for ordained clergy and requires the candidate to prepare and lead the main Sunday service, or that of a major feast-day, in the parish. The service should usually be one of Holy Communion, and should feature hymns and other music where appropriate. It should include a sermon of around ten minutes’ duration written and preached by the candidate. The sermon, hymns, and other additional material should be communicated to the University at least three weeks before the date of the service. At the same time, the candidate must submit an essay of approximately 2,000 words in length, explaining the rationale for the choices of material made and the planning of the service. An assured approach is expected at this advanced level and no significant faults should be present in order to secure a pass mark. Examinations take place either (when sufficient candidates are entered and an examiner is available) at a church or chapel with a visiting examiner, or via distance. In a distance examination, the examination takes place before an approved proctor (who is not an examiner, but is there to certify the conduct of the examination and the authenticity of the submission) and is then submitted as a video recording.

Music pathway
The music pathway to the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Worship requires the candidate to prepare and conduct a choir in the singing of a service of Choral Evensong. The service must include free settings of the canticles, an anthem, responses, hymns, and psalms sung either to Anglican chant or to plainchant. All service music should be submitted to the University at least three weeks before the date of the service, along with an essay of approximately 2,000 words in length, in which the candidate explains the choice of music, and describes the technical and interpretative considerations involved in preparing the repertoire. While it is not expected that the choir be professional, its performance should be of a highly competent standard, in order to demonstrate the candidate’s skill as a choir-trainer. Examinations take place either (when sufficient candidates are entered and an examiner is available) at a church or chapel with a visiting examiner, or via distance. In a distance examination, the examination takes place before an approved proctor (who is not an examiner, but is there to certify the conduct of the examination and the authenticity of the submission) and is then submitted as a video recording.