Theology Summer School



A two-week residential summer school for members of the clergy, theologians and teachers of religious education.

  • Explore the programme theme Christian Theology in a Time of Global Crises.
  • Participate in seminars taught by members of Oxford University's Theology Faculty, distinguished theologians, and prominent church leaders.
  • Attend lectures from leading scholars in the field of Theology.
  • An opportunity to study and live in Christ Church, one of Oxford University's largest and most beautiful colleges.


Applicants choose one morning seminar and one afternoon seminar per week, and can stay for one or both weeks of the programme. See Programme details for information on topics and tutors.

Morning classes run 09.00-12.00 and afternoon classes 13.30-16.30, Monday-Friday, with a mid-session break of 30 minutes for refreshments. Classes will usually contain no more than 18 students.

Weekends are left free for participants to explore Oxford.

Contact hours

The programme provides a minimum of 26.5 contact hours per week, comprising

  • 25 hours of seminar meetings (12.5 hours per seminar);
  • One 1.5 hour lecture each week, from a leading scholar in the field.


Participants are welcome to attend services at Christ Church Cathedral.

Oxford is a diverse city, rich in places of worship for people of many faiths and denominations.

Social programme

The Theology Summer School warmly invites all participants to take part in the social programme. The optional social activites, at no extra cost, include a welcome reception on the Sunday of your arrival and a formal gala dinner to close each week of the programme.

There will also be optional social activites each week, with tickets available for purchase in Spring 2023:

  • Weekly string quartet concert, hosted by eminent instrumentalists local to Oxford and held in the Christ Church Upper Library, a building dating from 1717 and housing around 40,000 books.
  • Saturday walking tour of Oxford, led by expert local guides, available to those attending both weeks of the programme only.


Programme details

Applicants choose one morning seminar and one afternoon seminar per week. A PDF version of the seminar descriptions is also available.

Week 1: 30 July - 5 August

Morning seminars (9.00am-12.00pm)

Theology of Refugees - Dr Barney Aspray
There are more than 100 million refugees in the world today and the number is growing daily. It has never been more urgent for Christians to respond to this global crisis. This course offers an overview of the politics and ethics of refugees from a Christian theological point of view. Starting with a detailed survey of the contemporary situation, we will explore in depth what the Bible has to say about forced migration before delving into the many ethical conflicts over immigration in both the church and the wider world. Finally, we will look at some of the practical challenges that face those who work closely with refugees.

Religion and Nature in the Twenty-First Century - Dr Sarah Jane Boss
In an age of global warming, this course will examine religious responses to the natural environment, and enquire into the role that religion might play in environmental protection.
Theorists have suggested that the origin of religion lies in the awe that is induced by the presence of natural forces, and sacred sites have often been connected with natural events and features of the landscape.  The course will consider theological, philosophical and sociological approaches to these questions.

It’s Good to Talk: The Value of Dialogue - The Reverend Canon Nicholas Turner
Lockdown isolation reminded many of us how much we need to talk with other people. The time of anxiety which has followed has only emphasised the value of dialogue. The heart of this course will be the gospel questions, amounting in all to some six hundred references from the four evangelists. Most important are the questions asked by Jesus himself.  Then there are those asked by others directly to Jesus, and those unexpressed but answered by him anyway. Of particular interest are those asked of other people about Jesus, and finally the small but significant group of questions that are referred to but were never asked.
We are looking here not at the answers, but what it means to speak with Jesus through his written word. We shall also look at the late Old Testament writings, especially Ezra and Nehemiah, Job and Jonah, which developed the tradition of interrogating the ancient sacred texts; as well as some examples from Paul’s letters.
The Scriptures are not a monologue; we are not being spoken to, but invited to engage in a life-changing conversation. This questioning approach is complementary to but distinct from lectio divina. The course does not expect any special knowledge or expertise, but should appeal to those who relish close study of the biblical texts.

Afternoon seminars (1.30pm-4.30pm)

Trying to Live into a New Normal - Professor Anthony Reddie
The sessions for this week will look at Theological Anthropology and the challenge of how we live together as human beings. The Pandemic illustrated the nature of two pandemics - the Coronavirus that has taken so many lives, but in the murder of George Floyd and resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement, we have also seen the continued presence of systemic racism and oppressive economic systems that have impacted on the lives of the poor in the Global Majority world.
The participative activities and accompanied theological reflections will assist individuals in imagining a new normal, a new way of being human and how we live together post pandemic.

A Time for Re-Constellations - The Revd Dr Anne Holmes
This course will introduce practical theology as a discipline which embraces psychology. The sessions will cover loss and change during the pandemic, the subsequent insecurity due to the war in Ukraine, the rise in the cost of energy and general rise in the cost of living. Among themes to be considered will be the impact of these events on the mental health of key workers including clergy, the importance of a flexible response to the need to facilitate Christian liturgy in new ways, a focus on well-being and creative repair and reflections on the way forward. Participants will be invited to contribute to the discussion, drawing on their own experience.

Is Horrendous Evil Compatible with a God of Love? - The Revd Canon Professor Keith Ward
The course will examine some major attempts to answer, or evade, this question in the history of religions and in philosophical thought. This will involve discussion of the Bible, ancient Greek philosophy, Aquinas, Leibniz, Teilhard, Plantinga, Barth, Rahner, and Whitehead. Free and open discussion is welcome, though some positive proposals of an affirmative answer will be suggested.

Week 2: 6 - 12 August

Morning seminars (9.00am-12.00pm)

Sabbath as Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World - Dr Ken Barnes
This seminar is based on a book that I am writing with colleagues at the Mockler Center. The premise is that “sabbath” is more than a religious ordinance prohibiting manual labour. Instead, we take a much more expansive view of sabbath as a “prism” through which we view all human activity. This broader understanding of sabbath presents opportunities for people to recover from the pressures of modern life generally, and the impact of post-trauma specifically. Each session will concentrate on one area of life:

  1. Values (sabbath as “reprioritization”) 
  2. Time (sabbath as “resistance”) 
  3. Space/Place (sabbath as “reimagination”) 
  4. People (sabbath as “renewal”) 
  5. Faith (sabbath as “redemption”) 

Each session will be a combination of lectures, videos, group exercises, journaling, and sabbath “practices” (i.e. meditations).

Christianity and the Crisis of Modernity - Dr Michael Burdett
This seminar surveys the challenges posed to the Christian faith by modernity and a range of theological responses to these challenges. It focuses on how Christianity has responded to challenges from gender with feminist theology, race/class with liberation theology and critical theory with postmodern theology. It also attends to challenges from science and technology. We will study how evolution potentially challenges human uniqueness and the image of God and also how gene editing, human enhancement and AI are being grappled with by Christian ethics. Throughout we will consider whether the challenges are significant and whether the responses are satisfying. 

Christian Leadership in Crisis - Dr Jonathan Brant
This course will explore both recent well-documented failures of Christian leadership, and consider what we might do to ensure that Christian leadership can make a positive contribution in society in times of crisis.  The course will consider features of our current context that make failures of leadership more likely, before drawing on biblical, theological and ethical traditions in order to explore how we might do better.  The seminars will involve short presentations, reflection on participants’ personal experience, group discussion, as well as engagement with arts, literature and media.

Afternoon seminars (1.30pm-4.30pm)

Psychological Approaches to Religion: Friend or Foe to Christian Theology - Dr Emily Burdett
How can we use psychological methods to understand religious behaviour? Can we measure belief? Are we predisposed to think of supernatural agents? How can Christian theology engage with the work in Psychology? This seminar explores these questions in depth. It provides an introduction to the methods in psychology, and an overview of the scientific study of religion. Students will also engage and critically examine new and cutting-edge research.

African Pentecostal Understandings of War and Sickness: Responses to the Ukraine War and Covid-19 Pandemic - Dr Christopher Wadibia
Over the past few years, the world has been significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Much scholarly and popular attention has analysed the geopolitical, economic, and historical dimensions of these world changing events. However, little work has been completed to clarify the role that religion and spirituality play in the lives of those affected by these two hugely consequential events. Pentecostalism is the world's fastest-growing Christian denomination and enjoys massive popularity in Africa. It offers a useful framework to explore how religious people apprehend war and sickness. This seminar will introduce students to the field of African Pentecostalism and guide them through modules that assess how African Pentecostals understand the concepts of war and sickness by using the case studies of the Ukraine War and Covid-19 pandemic.


All participants who complete the programme will receive an attendance certificate. There is no assessment for the programme.


Description Costs
Non-residential (per week) - tuition, refreshments and dinner £1190.00
Residential (both weeks) - accommodation, tuition and meals £3335.00
Residential (one week only) - accommodation, tuition and meals £1610.00


Programme fees

  • Residential (one week only) - £1,610 per week
    Fees include tuition (2 seminars and the weekly lecture); accommodation in a single room with private shower and toilet for the nights of Sunday 30 July to Friday 4 August 2023 inclusive (Week 1, 6 nights) OR Sunday 6 August to Friday 11 August 2023 inclusive (Week 2, 6 nights); meals in hall - breakfast and refreshments Monday-Saturday and dinner Sunday-Friday. Lunch is not provided.

  • Residential (both weeks) - £3,335 total
    Fees include tuition (2 seminars per week and the weekly lectures); accommodation in a single room with private shower and toilet for the nights of Sunday 30 July to Friday 11 August 2023 inclusive (13 nights); meals in hall - breakfast and refreshments Mondays-Fridays and dinner Sundays-Fridays. Lunch is not provided. Lunch and dinner are not provided on Saturday 5 August, and lunch and breakfast is not provided on Sunday 6 August.

  • Non-residential (per week) - £1,190 per week
    Fees include tuition (2 seminars and the weekly lecture); no accommodation; dinner and refreshments at Christ Church from Sunday-Friday.

Invoicing and payment

Successful applicants who accept their offer of a place on the summer school will be invoiced for the appropriate programme fee once they have been formally enrolled on the programme. Please note there are no sources of funding (scholarships, bursaries, etc) available for applicants.

Invoices will be emailed to participants together with full instructions for payment. Fees may be paid online with a credit or debit card, or by bank transfer.

Participants are required to pay the full fee within 30 days of the date on which their invoice was issued.

Please note that:

  • participants are expected to take out vacation cancellation insurance to cover the programme fee and travel costs (see "Cancellations", below);
  • a place on the summer school is confirmed as soon as fee payment is received in full by OUDCE. You will receive a receipt for your payment via email.
  • places will not be held for participants whose fees are not paid in full by the due date; and
  • in no circumstances will participants be admitted to the summer school unless all fees have been paid in full.
  • If you are a non-UK participant you will receive a letter via email confirming your enrolment and course details which may be used to support a visa application. 


All enrolments are subject to OUDCE's Short Selective Course Terms and Conditions.

A contract between OUDCE and a participant comes into being when a participant accepts an offer of a place on the summer school.

  • You have the right to cancel this contract at any time within 14 days, beginning on the day you accepted the offer.
  • Places cancelled at any time after the expiry of the 14-day period will not be entitled to any refund of the price paid for the summer school under any circumstances.

If you wish to cancel your place on the summer school you must inform the Programme Administrator by email at

All participants need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred. OUDCE does not provide any insurance cover and the cancellation policy applies in all cases.

OUDCE reserves the right to alter details of any course should illness or any other emergency prevent a tutor from teaching, and to cancel a course or seminar if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 15 May 2023. If it is likely that individual seminars or the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days, and possible options clearly explained.

If you have not heard from OUDCE by 22 May 2023, you should assume that the course and your seminars will be running; there is no need to contact us to confirm. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

Teaching methods

Elements of seminar teaching will normally include:

  • mini lectures by tutors; and
  • tutor-led class discussions.


Before you submit your application

  • ensure you meet the admissions requirements (see "Selection criteria", below);
  • make sure you have all the required supporting documents listed below;
  • ensure you are familiar with the terms and conditions of enrolment on the summer school, especially those relating to payment of fees and cancellations (see "Payment", above); 
  • read the 'Important information regarding immigration and visa requirements' (see "Level and demands", below).

The application process

Download, print and complete the APPLICATION FORM. Please ensure all sections are completed fully, clearly, and in block capitals if handwritten.

The form must be accompanied by:

  • A brief statement of purpose (250-300 words) detailing your reasons for wishing to attend the summer school. This should include what you hope to get out of the programme, and what you are likely to contribute to the intellectual life of the summer school. This may include the relevance of the summer school to your current employment, professional or personal development, or present course of study. It is essential that you clearly state your reasons for wishing to enrol on specific seminars.
  • In the case of non-native speakers of English, official evidence of English language proficiency.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Applications should be emailed to or posted to: Theology Summer School, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

After you have submitted your application

You will receive an email from confirming receipt of your application, and informing you when your application will be reviewed by the Programme Director.

Application deadline

Applications will be reviewed on a first-come-first-served or rolling basis until 15 May 2023.

There is a limited number of places available on every seminar, and in assigning successful applicants to classes the Programme Director will pay particular attention to applicants' personal statements.

Subject to the availability of places, late applications may be considered until 15 June 2023.

Notification of the Programme Director's decision

Applicants will normally be notified of the Programme Director's decision by email from within 14 days of their application having been received.

Applicants who are offered a place on the summer school must respond in writing within 14 days to accept or decline the offer. In accepting an offer of a place applicants are committing to paying their programme fees in full by the due date.

Late applicants will be notified within 7 days of their materials having been received, and successful applicants will then have 7 days in which to accept or decline the offer of a place.


Participants will be formally enrolled on the summer school once they have accepted their offer of a place. Following enrolment the student will

  • be issued an invoice together with full instructions for payment (see "Payment", above);
  • in June 2023, recieve the longer course descriptions and detailed reading lists, joining instructions, and arrival day arrangements.

Level and demands

Participants are expected to

  • undertake preparatory reading in advance of the programme;
  • attend all seminar sessions and plenary keynote lectures; and
  • be actively engaged with their seminar topics.

Disabled students (including those with mobility difficulties)

Disabled students who have registered or are planning to attend a college-based summer school with OUDCE should please contact the Programme Administrator, via email at, to discuss any support needs.

If you would like more information about support available to students with disabilities, please see: or consult the University Access Guide.

Selection criteria

This is an intensive programme of study taught to an informed international audience aged 18 and over. Applicants should be confident that they are academically and linguistically prepared for such a programme.

Academic requirements

Applications are welcomed from:

  • members of the clergy, especially as part of their continuing ministerial development;
  • lay ministers and readers;
  • theologians;
  • teachers of religious education;
  • normally those undertaking theological study at university level.

Although the direction of the summer school is Christian, religious leaders and members of other faiths are warmly welcomed as participants.

English language requirements

Participants are expected to participate fully in seminar discussions and must demonstrate an appropriate level of English language proficiency prior to enrolment.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language must provide evidence of their competency in the form of an original certificate or a certified copy that is not more than two years old on the date the summer school starts. The certification must satisfy one of the following requirements:

Non-native speakers of English who have successfully completed a full-time University degree in a country where English is the official language, and where English is the language of programme instruction, can provide their University degree certificate in lieu of the above. Please contact the Programme Administrator for further details.

Important information regarding immigration and visa requirements

European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals (excludes Irish nationals) 

You do not need a visa to enter the UK to participate in the summer school. You can enter as a visitor for up to 6 months by using your passport or identity card at the eGates. Note that from 1 October 2021, you will not be able to use your identity card and will need to show your passport; this is explained on the UK Government website. The Programme Administrator will provide all non-UK students with a standard format pdf letter by email confirming enrolment and course details once their fees have been paid in full which you should keep in your hand luggage in case you are ever asked any questions on arrival. If you have pre-settled or settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme this paragraph does not apply. 

Non-EEA nationals 

a. Nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, USA 

If you hold a passport from one of these countries you can enter via the eGates as a visitor for up to 6 months. However, you should still keep the standard format pdf letter we will provide you in your hand luggage in case of any queries, or in case you need to attend a staffed desk if the eGates are not working or if the eGates cannot recognise the chip in your passport. 

b. Other non-EEA nationals 

You may need to apply for a visa before coming to the UK depending on which passport you hold. You can check if you need a visa before coming to the UK on the UK Government website 

  • If the website shows that you require a visa: you must apply for a visitor visa before coming to the UK. Please check current visa processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you are applying from. 

  • If the website shows that you do not require a visa: you will still need to bring certain documents to show at the border in order to be admitted as a visitor

If you are not a national in section a. we strongly recommend that you establish whether you will require a visa before submitting your application.

Please ensure your summer school application is submitted as early as possible to allow yourself sufficient time to complete the visa application process.

The Programme Administrator will provide all non-UK students with a standard format pdf letter by email confirming enrolment and course details once their fees have been paid in full.

For legal reasons the Programme Administrator is not permitted to provide any visa advice to applicants. You can find information about visitor visas on the University visa and immigration webpages.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have taken the necessary steps to enable you to be admitted to the UK. The university takes no responsibility for a visa being denied at any point before or during a course.

If you fail to attend the course and are from a nationality that require a visa before coming to the UK, we may need to contact the Home Office if we have issued you with a standard format pdf letter for visa purposes to cancel this visa.

Please note that the standard cancellation policy applies in all cases (see Cancellations, above).



Founded in the 16th century, Christ Church is one of Oxford University's largest and most beautiful colleges.

Bedrooms and meals

Participants who choose to attend the summer school on a residential basis will have a single study bedroom.

Bedrooms are located on the four floors of the 1960s-built Blue Boar Quad; all rooms have private bathroom facilities (shower and toilet). Please note that Christ Church bedrooms do not have lift access, and the higher rooms can be located up a few flights of stairs. If you need a room on a ground or lower floor please indicate this on your application, or contact the programme administrator prior to your arrival.

Participants cannot be accommodated at Christ Church either prior to or beyond their programme dates. Family members and/or friends who are not enrolled on this summer school cannot be accommodated in college.

Participants will take meals (breakfast Monday-Saturday for residential participants and dinner Sunday-Friday for all participants) in Christ Church’s spectacular dining hall. Participants make their own arrangements for lunch. Should participants have any dietary requirements they are asked to complete the relevant section on the application form.

Please be aware that accommodation at Christ Church is limited and may not be available for those who submit their applications towards the end of the admissions period.

Non-residential participants

Participants who choose to attend the summer school on a non-residential basis are responsible for finding their own accommodation. Information on accommodation in Oxford is available at:

Dinner is provided for non-residential participants at Christ Church from Sunday-Friday, and participants are welcome to attend all aspects of the social programme.

IT facilities

WiFi is available throughout the college, including the bedrooms, although due to the thick walls some areas have better access than others. Participants will receive instructions on how to access this service and internet support will be available during the summer school office hours. There are no computers provided for participants' use at Christ Church.