Thank you for your interest in the Western Orthodox University Master of Theology programme. The programme is designed to be completed within twenty-two months by a student devoting ten to twelve hours a week, working by distance learning.
The programme is outlined below, but individual details may be varied on the initiative of the Mentor and/or student, always subject to ratification by the University. In principle, the aim is to provide a fully bespoke, individualized learning experience that takes into account the particular strengths, interests and previous learning of the student, and thus offers a flexible but rigorous route to the degree.
The programme currently consists of six modules, listed below with their main topics. The Bible is studied in the Authorized Version (except for historical and analytical examples) and command of Biblical languages is not required.
A. Spiritual Formation
Outline of the fundamental experiences of the Christian Faith. The relationship of the Bible, the teaching authority of the Church, the relationship between man and God, the covenants of God, the importance of prayer, worship and community.
B. Systematic Theology
Outline of Systematic Theology in all its main branches. Creation, salvation, sin, revelation, Trinitarianism, the Church, Christology, last things.
C. Augustine and Aquinas
Study in depth of these two major Church authorities through their key works and subsequent influence.
D. Old Testament Theology and History
General survey of the Old Testament in its context, with emphasis on its distinctive theology and key themes. Historical examination of the origins and context of the Old Testament.
E. New Testament Theology and History
Historical and scholarly study of the New Testament book by book, examining each in a critical manner and reconciling this scholarship with Christian belief in the teaching authority of Scripture.
F. A Dissertation Topic
2. Aims and objectives
The programme is aimed at the ordained or lay person who desires to understand the origins, philosophy and faith of traditional Christianity at an advanced level. It is not a requirement that candidates profess any particular beliefs, although the programme is taught from the perspective of traditional Christianity as a professed and lived faith. It offers the opportunity to assess all the important pre-Reformation historical strands that have contributed to the Church today, without being exclusively devoted to the point of view of any one of the present-day churches that make that movement up, and without consideration of the predominantly modern or postmodern approaches to theology which are prominently offered by other universities today. It will produce scholars with an in-depth understanding of the fundamental basis of Christian theology that would be useful for prospective ordinands or those in the early stages of a ministerial vocation, as well as those from other backgrounds who seek to relate to the Christian faith in a meaningful and respectful way.
3. Methods of delivery
The delivery of the teaching for the course is by distance learning. Students will be assigned a Mentor who will be a practitioner in the field and/or an established academic. They will work out the exact details of what is to be studied and how this will be assessed in co-operation with the Mentor with this learning contract then ratified by the University. In most cases, students will communicate with their Mentor via electronic communications (e-mail, fax) although some Mentors prefer to work via postal mail, and many will also offer telephone support.
4. Course materials
The chosen methods of learning are designed to offer the student the maximum of flexibility and scope in tackling the program.
The individualized nature of the programme means that traditional course materials in the form of structured course notes are rarely appropriate or practical, although it is hoped that where possible, Mentors will make their notes on particular topics available to the student. Students are, of course, responsible for creating their own course notes based on their reading and related work.
Most work within the programme will consist of directed readings from key texts selected by the Mentor. The student will be responsible for obtaining books, which are not included in the programme fees, although both the Mentor and the University will endeavour to assist in the event of any difficulty in obtaining books. The Mentor will set regular assignments based on the directed reading, most of which will be in the form of an essay or paper. Mentors will also provide guidance on background reading for each topic.
5. Entry requirements
The usual minimum requirements for entry to the course are as follows:
Candidates will normally have attained the age of twenty-eight years. All candidates will be expected to show a proficiency in the English language.
It is a key principle of the University that each application should be considered on its own merits, and admission to the course and all interpretations as to the eligibility for such admission remain at the discretion of the University.