Theology Summer School 2017

Course summary

  • Sun 30 Jul 2017 to Sat 12 Aug 2017
  • Held at Christ Church, Oxford
  • Residential - £1,265 per week; Non-residential - £930 per week
  • Course code O17I002JDR
  • Course ended

Theology Summer School 2017



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

  • Exploring the theme 'Re-formation: Reform and Renewal in Christian Life and Experience'.
  • Offering one-week seminars taught by members of Oxford's Theology Faculty, distinguished theologians and prominent church leaders.
  • Providing the opportunity to study, live and dine in Christ Church, one of the most beautiful colleges in Oxford.

The academic programme consists of

  • study in small interactive seminar groups with specialist tutors; and
  • a plenary keynote lecture per week given by a leading scholar in the field.

Applicants choose one morning seminar and one afternoon seminar per week from:

Week 1: 30 July-5 August - Morning Seminars

  • Ecclesia Semper Reformanda: The Church Always Needs Reform
  • The Holy Spirit in the New Testament
  • The Real Issues of the Reformation

Week 1: 30 July-5 August - Afternoon Seminars

  • No Faith in Religion? The Case for a New Reformation
  • Reforming Women and Men
  • School for Souls

Week 2: 6-12 August - Morning Seminars

  • Christian Faith and Modern Thought: Are they Compatible?
  • The Protestant Reformation and the Scientific Revolution
  • Renewal Movements from Montanism to Methodism

Week 2: 6-12 August - Afternoon Seminars

  • C S Lewis and the Christian Imagination
  • Holy Orders or Hired Help?
  • Iconoclasm and Idolatry

Each seminar has five two-and-a-half hour meetings, and classes will usually contain no more than 18 participants.

Please note that most applicants choose to attend both weeks of the summer school; however, it is possible to attend one week only.

In addition to the daily seminar programme, there will be an evening lecture each week. In Week 1 Diarmaid McCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University, will speak on 'The Reformation: All Things Made New’ and in Week 2 Judith Maltby, Chaplain of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and Reader in Church History at Oxford University, will speak on 'Reforming Mary? The Blessed Virgin and the Reformation'.

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); and
  • a lecture lasting 1.5 hours.


Participants are welcome to attend services at Christ Church Cathedral, and there will be a conference worship each week during the summer school.

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

Social programme

A number of social activities will be arranged during the summer school. These may include informal tours of the college and the city of Oxford.

Programme details

Seminar options

Applicants take one morning course and one afternoon course per week.

Most applicants choose to attend both weeks of the summer school; however, it is possible to attend one week only.

Week 1: Morning seminars

Ecclesia Semper Reformanda: The Church Always Needs Reform

This course explores the way in which Catholic Christianity has renewed itself down the ages whenever crisis has driven it to rediscover its deepest identity. The course begins with a consideration of Biblical themes of rebellion and forgiveness and then looks in more detail at some of the most significant periods of reform, including the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, the Counter-Reformation and the First and Second Vatican Councils.

Tutor: Fr Henry Wansbrough OSB is a monk of Ampleforth Abbey, a Biblical scholar and an editor of the New Jerusalem Bible.

The Holy Spirit in the New Testament

The Holy Spirit is a (literally) vital element in the documents that make up the New Testament; but institutional Christianity sometimes seems alarmed by the Spirit. This course will take a new look at the New Testament evidence about the activity of the Spirit in the life of the Christian community. We will begin with examining St Paul’s understanding of the Spirit, then move on to Luke, whose Gospel has some claim to be the ‘Gospel of the Spirit’. We then consider John’s Gospel with its very original account of what the evangelist calls ‘The Paraclete’ before exploring Mark and Matthew, who follow a path all of their own.

Tutor: Nicholas King SJ is a Jesuit priest who is currently Academic Director of Theology at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. He is also the translator of a new version of the entire Greek Bible.

The Real Issues of the Reformation

This course focuses on key theologians of the Reformation period: Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin in order to understand the significance and impact that these ‘Magisterial Reformers’ -  as they are known - still have on the Church today. The course will look at developments in England as well as in the rest of Europe and explore the impact of Reformation thought on English culture, music and the arts.

Tutor: The Revd Dr Jonathan Arnold teaches Ecclesiastical History for Oxford University’s Faculty of Theology and Religion. He is Dean of Divinity and Fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford. 

Week 1: Afternoon seminars

No Faith in Religion? The Case for a New Reformation

This course proceeds on the assumption that the 16th-century Reformation was a corrective which is now itself in need of correction. It considers whether religion is the problem; too much religion and not enough faith. This prompts a re-appraisal of ‘God-talk’ after the Enlightenment, and the challenges posed by modernity to all articles of faith. A reformation of theology as a plausible and practical vocation will be attempted as we attempt (together) to craft a sustainable prospectus for faith communities in the 21st century.

Tutor: The Rt Revd Dr John Saxbee was formerly Bishop of Lincoln and has contributed to theological education for 30 years.

Reforming Women and Men

The enquiring spirit of the Reformation challenged Roman Catholic models of sexuality and gender as much as it revised our thinking about grace and salvation. The emphasis on individual intellectual engagement with the faith also encouraged both men and women to defy traditional hierarchies of status and gender in the name of conscience. In this course we will examine these transformations in their historical context, and consider how they inform our own understanding of the relationship between faith and culture.

Tutor: The Revd Dr Erica Longfellow has published widely on English religious literature after the Reformation. She is Dean of Divinity, Chaplain and Fellow of New College Oxford, a post she has held since 2011.

School for Souls

Christianity first presented itself as a transformative philosophy in a world where the call ‘you need to change your life’ was commonplace. This course traces the development of a Christian syllabus for the soul through the pioneering wisdom of the desert fathers, the Rule of St Benedict, the personal appropriation of scripture that emerged from the Reformation era and the development of new forms of spiritual counsel and direction in the modern era. Members of the course are invited to attend to and reflect on their own spiritual experience as part of the course.

Tutor: The Revd Angela Tilby is a Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. She is a writer, broadcaster and teacher of Early Church History and Spirituality.

Week 2: Morning seminars

Christian Faith and Modern Thought: Are they Incompatible?       

Since the Papal condemnation of liberalism and modern thought in the 19th and early 20th centuries there has been a perceived problem about ancient faiths and modern worldviews. This course will explore the ways in which Christian faith has responded to changing moral and cognitive views since the 16th century, explore the diverse and often contradictory themes in ‘modern thought’, and ask to what extent Christian doctrines need to take them into account.

Tutor: Professor Keith Ward is a British philosopher, theologian, priest and scholar who was Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford from 1991 until his retirement in 2003.

The Protestant Reformation and the Scientific Revolution

In this course we shall consider how the Protestant Reformation not only transformed the church and its academy, but inspired and constrained developments in science and discovery. The Scientific Revolution began during this eventful period, with important figures inhabiting both religious and emerging natural scientific spheres. Our exploration of upheavals, including changes from Aristotelian philosophy to modern science, new ways of reading the Bible, and figures like Galileo, will help us to understand the contemporary relevance of this vital period. 

Tutor: The Revd Dr Shaun Henson teaches in Oxford University’s Faculty of Theology and Religion, and serves as Chaplain to Hugh’s College, Oxford.

Renewal Movements from Montanism to Methodism

Analogies have been drawn between the rise of Methodism in the 18th century and the 3rd-century Montanist movement. Even more telling perhaps is the connection with 4th-century Messalianism which produced the so-called ‘Macarian Homilies’, a translation of which John Wesley published for his followers in his Christian Library. This course will explore each of these movements of Christian renewal in its historical context, discuss parallels and differences, and consider Pentecostalism and the 20th-century charismatic movements in the light of these historical precedents.

Tutor: The Revd Professor Frances Young taught Theology at the University of Birmingham from 1971. Now retired, she is still active in research and as a Methodist minister.

Week 2: Afternoon seminars

C S Lewis and the Christian Imagination

In this course we shall explore the theological imagination of C S Lewis in his life and conversion, his apologetics and his literary work. We shall look especially at his understanding of the relationship between reason and imagination in coming to belief in God and communicating that belief to others. We shall also consider the creative challenges posed by Lewis to today’s Christian culture, and discuss ways of meeting them in our life, work and thought; individually and in the Church.

Tutor: Dr Judith Wolfe is Senior Lecturer in Theology and the Arts at the University of St Andrews, and a Research Associate of St Benet’s Hall, Oxford.

Holy Orders or Hired Help?

This course will explore the origins, role, and development of the ordained ministry in the Church, alongside the Reformation legacy for today’s churches and communities. Specific issues addressed will include the development of the Anglican ordinal, the post-Reformation emergence in the West of a married as opposed to a celibate clergy as normative, the ordination of women as well as men, and purely functional views of ministry (as in forms of Congregationalism), and other issues facing the churches of today.

Tutor: The Revd Dr Keith Riglin is a Chaplain at King’s College London where he also teaches in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.

Iconoclasm and Idolatry

The 16th-century Reformation changed and transformed the use, forms and meaning visual religious art and architecture. In this course we shall examine the power of image and art on both sides of the Reformation divide.  We shall explore how the early reformers dealt with medieval Catholic imagery, sometimes iconoclastically, but also by replacing it with new imagery, including the reshaping of their places of worship. The losses and gains of this period will be looked at through the lens of theology and liturgy. We shall explore key examples of art, and architecture including a thorough investigation of Christ Church Cathedral and other places in Oxford.

Tutor: The Revd Canon Dr Robin Gibbons is Director of Studies for Theology and Religion at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education and an Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church, Oxford.


All participants who complete the programme will receive an `attendance certificate`.



Founded in the 16th century, Christ Church is one of Oxford University's largest 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 modern (1960s) Blue Boar Quad; all rooms have private bathroom facilities (shower and toilet).

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.

Residential participants will take meals (breakfast Monday-Saturday and dinner Sunday-Friday) in the college's dining hall. Participants make their own arrangements for lunch. Should participants have any dietary requirements (eg vegetarian, gluten-free) they are required 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:

Please note that dinner will be provided for non-residential participants at Christ Church from Sunday-Friday.

IT facilities

Internet access is available via a number of computers in the Junior Common Room at Christ Church. For those with laptops, wireless internet access is available throughout the college, including the residential accommodation.


Residential - £1,265 per week; Non-residential - £930 per week


Programme fees

  • Residential - £1,265 per week
    Fees include tuition; access to IT facilities; accommodation in a single room with private shower and toilet for the nights of Sunday 30 July to Friday 4 August 2017 inclusive (Week 1) and/or Sunday 6 August to Friday 11 August 2017 inclusive (Week 2); meals in hall - breakfast Monday-Saturday and dinner Sunday-Friday (no lunch).

Participants attending both weeks of the summer school will be provided with complimentary bed and breakfast accommodation on the night of Saturday 5 August and the morning of Sunday 6 August 2017.

  • Non-residential - £930 per week
    Fees include tuition; access to IT facilities; no accommodation; dinner at Christ Church from Sunday-Friday.

There are no sources of funding (scholarships, bursaries, etc) available for applicants.

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.

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 participant's place on the summer school is not confirmed until their fees have been paid in full;
  • 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.

When you have paid your fees

Your place on the summer school is confirmed as soon as your payment is received by OUDCE.

You will receive a receipt for your payment: by email if paid online, or by post if paid by bank transfer.

If you are a non-EEA participant you will receive a letter confirming your enrolment and course details which may be used to support your application for a short-term study visa: this letter will be sent by post (see 'Level and demands', above).


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.

Please be aware that if you cancel your place at any time after the expiry of the 14-day period you will not be entitled to a refund of the price paid for the summer school.

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

You are expected to take out vacation cancellation insurance to cover the programme fee and travel costs, and you should consult your travel agent and/or insurer for information and advice. OUDCE does not provide any insurance cover.

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 2017. 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 2017, 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.


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); and
  • 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.

The form must be accompanied by:

  • A brief statement of purpose (350-400 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 competency.
  • A letter of recommendation from a person who is well placed to comment on your suitability of the programme - eg a member of the clergy, a religious leader, or an academic in the field of theology and religious studies. A reference from a family member is not acceptable. Please note that the letter of recommendation must refer specifically to your application to the Oxford University Theology Summer School.
  • Photographs (UK passport-sized - ie 4.5cm high x 3.5cm wide), with your full name printed on the back of each: please provide four photographs if you are applying for one week of the summer school; six if you are applying for both weeks.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

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

You may wish to send your application by a courier service or registered post for speed and/or security of delivery.

We are currently unable to receive applications by email.

After you have submitted your application

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

Application deadlines

This summer school operates a 'gathered field' closing date system by which applications are reviewed fairly and equally in batches at specific dates throughout the admissions period rather than on a first come, first served or rolling basis.

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

There are three deadlines for applications:

  • Gathered field 1 - 1 February 2017
  • Gathered field 2 - 15 March 2017
  • Gathered field 3 - 1 May 2017

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 the relevant gathered field deadline.

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.


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

The enrolment process includes the issuing of invoices, which will be emailed to participants together with full instructions for payment (see 'Payment', above).

Further course information

Participants will receive the following information by email from prior to the summer school:

  • In April 2017 - course information, including detailed course content and required preparatory reading*
  • In April 2017 - joining instructions, containing a wealth of practical information to assist students as they prepare to travel to the summer school (eg how to get to Oxford, arrangements at Christ Church)*
  • In June 2017 - confirmation of arrival day arrangements.

*Successful gathered field 2 and 3 applicants will receive this information on enrolment.

Any queries?

Please contact the Programme Administrator by email at

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.

Important information regarding immigration and visa requirements

If you are an European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national you do not need a visa to enter the UK to participate in the summer school. You are free to enter the UK as long as you show your EEA or Swiss passport on arrival.

If you are not an EEA or Swiss national, you may need to apply for a visa to enter the UK depending on which passport you hold.

If the system shows that you require a visa: you should apply for a short-term study visa, which allows students over the age of 18 to study either part-time or full-time for up to 6 months in the UK.

If the system 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 short-term student.

If you are not an EEA or Swiss national we strongly recommend that you establish whether you will require a visa before submitting your application. Please check current visa processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you are applying from. You should 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-EEA students with a standard format letter 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: all such enquiries should be submitted to Oxford University’s student visa and immigration advisers via email at

Disabled students (including those with mobility difficulties)

The aim of Oxford University Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE) is to treat all students equally and welcomes applications from people with disabilities. Individuals` needs are taken into account as far as possible, providing reasonable adaptations and assistance within the resources available. We ask that people let us know of any disability or special need (confidentially if required) so that we can help them participate as fully as possible.

When applying for OUDCE`s college-based summer schools, prospective students with mobility difficulties or visual or hearing impairments may want to make preliminary enquiries to the Programme Administrator, as the age and layout of these colleges often makes them user-unfriendly (although adaptations are often possible). Oxford, as an ancient city, tends to be difficult to navigate for people with disabilities. The number of very old buildings, designed in an age less sensitive to issues of disability, makes access to much of the city centre difficult. However, OUDCE will do as much as it is able to make study with the department possible.

Applicants should contact us if they will have problems gaining access to a bedroom or a teaching room that is located on upper or basement floors, or to the college dining hall (which is reached via a flight of stairs).

Selection criteria

This is an intensive programme of study taught to an informed international audience.

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;
  • theologians;
  • teachers of religious education; and
  • lay people with an interest in theological study at university level.

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

English language requirements

As students are expected to participate fully in seminar discussions and may be required to produce written work it is important that applicants can demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency in the four language skills - listening, reading, writing and speaking.

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. These applicants must satisfy one of the following requirements:

  • IELTS Academic - minimum overall score of 6.5, with not less than 6.5 in each of the four components
  • TOEFL iBT - minimum overall score of 100, with not less than 25 in each of the four components
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) - grade C or above.

For further information on English language qualifications:

However, non-native speakers of English who have successfully completed a full-time degree-level programme at a university where English is the language of instruction or who have significant business and professional experience in an English-speaking environment may not need to provide a certificate of English language qualification. Please contact the Programme Administrator for further details.