South west ministry training course
Ministry Training

Discover more about Christian faith, its relationship to our contemporary world and what makes us who we are.

New Encounters in Theology (NET) is a programme of academic theology, taught at evening classes in Exeter and Truro and by distance learning. The terms can be studied individually or together, either for credit towards a Durham University award, or by 'sitting-in' without the need to do any assignments. See leaflet here

SWMTC is strongly committed to the exploration of theology as a public discipline - one that makes truth-claims and experiences challenges not just within the Christian church, but out in the world. So it is very important to us that those studying for ministry hear the questions, and learn from the thinking, of those who are not candidates for recognised ministry. This process also works in reverse - 'public students' get to hear how the latest candidates for ministry are thinking and approaching their task. We believe that learning should take place not just in the context of the Church, but in 'the public square'.

Is it for you?
New Encounters in Theology is for you if you want to deepen your understanding and knowledge of Christianity in order to better serve your church.

New Encounters in Theology is for you if you want to learn and to use the tools that academic theology has developed to think critically about the Bible, and about the many ways Christian thinkers have used to try and understand God's ways with the world.

New Encounters in Theology is definitely for you if you want to pursue learning towards an award with a major university with an international reputation for theology. (It may also be that you are asked to study modules with NET if you are thinking of offering yourself as a candidate for recognised ministry.)

Sitting–in or studying for credit?
Classes in each of these modules may be attended for the payment of a ‘sitting-in’ fee which also includes access to our on-line learning materials.

However, you may wish to register to take the modules for credits, which involves completing assessed work according to a timetable. Each module carries 10 or 20 credits; and you must complete 120 credits to obtain a Certificate. Typically, each module entails commitment to six or twelve two-hour evening classes, a day class run on a Saturday, and private study to complete the assignments. The basic entry level requirement is one A-level or equivalent (sitting-in is open to all).

In the same way, those who have a Certificate in Theology or equivalent qualification may study diploma modules for credit, and completion of modules at this level leads to a Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission.

Our teachers are hand-picked experienced theologians from across the region. Some are associated with the University of Exeter, some are SWMTC staff, some are clergy and chaplains, some retired from senior positions, some senior clergy in the dioceses of Truro and Exeter, some formerly BBC producers!

Where and when?
The classes are on Tuesdays and Wednesday evenings in Exeter, Truro and Plymouth, 7pm to 9pm. There are two semesters, one from September to December and one from January to March. There is also one Saturday study day per semester. In addition, there are some on-line learning modules. For details of dates and times, see leaflet.

Virtual Learning
A further resource for teaching and learning is our virtual learning environment, Moodle. This contains the SWMTC Student Handbook, with regulations governing study for credit, general advice to students, and module-specific material including descriptors, module documents, handouts, PowerPoints, and reading material (in accordance with the rules of copyright). The evening classes at the Exeter centre are recorded and the audio recording is posted on-line within a few days, for the use of distance learning students and those who missed the relevant class.

Costs and Applications:
Download the leaflet here for cost information.

Download the application form for sitting-in students (not for credit) here . New students wishing to study for a Foundation Award in Theology, Ministry and Mission use this form. Those existing students wishing to continue their study towards a Certificate or Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission use this form here.

You are welcome to come to the first class of a semester to see if you like the look of it before registering. Please let us know on know.

From a Sitting-in student:

“Perhaps because I missed out on higher education until I was in my 40s, it has always seemed a privilege to me to be in a higher education classroom. Somehow this sense of privilege is magnified when 99% of the class are required to succeed in theological and pastoral assessments to further pursue their vocation in the many and varied manifestations of church ministry.

For a fee no more than an evening class, it is possible to sit alongside these inspiring students of all ages in the classroom, without the inevitable pressure of writing essays.

‘Sitting in’ students like me are welcomed as one of the group, and invited to share not only what they are learning from the texts and the lecturers but also to participate in their theological and ethical debates.
For me it gives a theological frame to my work as a voluntary member of a hospital chaplaincy team, but even without that motivation I would want to ‘be there’ as, like all good higher education, this course causes me to question that which I had previously taken for granted.”
SWMTC: Contact: Administrator Belinda Speed-Andrews on 01392 272544
South West Ministry Training Course is a company limited by guarantee. Company number 3070559. Charity number 1056606