Training for Everyone: New Encounters in Theology

Training for Everyone

Are you sensing the whisper of the Holy Spirit prompting you to explore deeper into your faith? Are you looking to develop your understanding of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ? Would you welcome the opportunity to study theology that is Christ-centered, world-engaging and rooted in local communities?

The South West Ministry Training Course has been exploring and journeying for over 40 years, teaching and nurturing Christians from all backgrounds and traditions. We are a community of ‘adventurous faith, missional hope and grounded love’ exploring a ‘Theology for Living’. Our goal is to equip Christ’s followers with the spiritual, theological and practical resources to be missional disciples in the Church today.

SWMTC’s academic programmes will help you learn about the Bible and the many ways Christian thinkers have tried to understand faith in God. They are validated by Durham University, as part of the Church of England’s Common Awards, and enable independent students to study part-time alongside those training for ministry as Ordinands and Licensed Lay Ministers (Readers) in the Church of England.

Please access the leaflet here: New Encounters in Theology

Lord’s Prayer, Nicene Creed, Magnificat

Each year students embark on study towards a Certificate (120 credits over two years) or a Diploma (240 credits over four years) in Theology, Ministry and Mission. It is possible to extend this to take a BA over six years. These courses are particularly suitable for those who have taken SWMTC’s one year introductory course, Foundations in Christian Ministry. Students who do not wish to study for credit or write assignments may attend the NET course as ‘sitters in’.

Our course is shaped by three core texts of the Christian faith: the Lord’s Prayer, the Nicene Creed and the Magnificat. These provide the backbone of our studies and are woven thematically throughout the different modules.

In the first year, independent students study ‘Introduction to the Bible’, ‘Introduction to Christian Doctrine and History’, ‘Introducing Theological Reflection’ (online), and ‘Foundations for Ministry and Worship in Context’. The following year they go deeper into Bible and Doctrine as well as studying a module on ‘Human identity’.

The Programme 2023-24

How to Apply

In the first year, independent students study ‘Introduction to the Bible’, ‘Introduction to Christian Doctrine and History’, ‘Introducing Theological Reflection’ (online) and ‘Foundations for Ministry and Worship in Context’.  The following year they study modules on ‘Human identity’ and ‘Ministry and Mission in Context’, and pursue their interests by further studies in the Bible and doctrine where they have some choice of the focus they research and write on. Our teachers are experienced theologians from the region, including our staff, visiting academics and church leaders.

This programme is delivered through seven study days on Saturdays, held at the Plymouth Marjon University. The dates for 2023-4 are: September 2, October 14, November 25, January 13 (via Zoom), March 2, May 4, & June 8. The Biblical module is delivered in part on Zoom on a Wednesday evening before each study day. For those less confident about returning to study after a time away the Study Skills evening (date TBC) on Zoom from 7-9pm, is a particularly helpful introduction, and attendance is required of all new students.

For students studying for credit, these classes are supported by online sessions and resources and interspersed with online smaller local group mid-week evening meetings, called Reflective Practice Seminars (dates  for 2023-24 to be confirmed). These gather twice in between each Saturday and are designed to develop, follow up and apply the teaching. Recordings and other online activities are delivered through Moodle, our virtual learning environment.


We welcome enquiries and can offer information about our Open Days (held on Saturdays during the current Residential weekends at Marjon). Please contact the Training Coordinator and Administrator or the Academic Administrator ( To find out more about our vision and values please visit


This should normally be complete before the end of August although it may be possible to attend the first Saturday study day of the course before committing to study. Please contact the Academic Administrator: who will send you a registration form to complete. There are no interviews. 

Entry requirements:

  • Certificate The basic entry level requirement is one A-level or equivalent but please contact the Academic Registrar ( if you do not meet this requirement as some alternative experiences or qualifications may be acceptable.

  • Diploma Previous award of Certificate.

  • BA Degree Previous award of Diploma.

  • Sitting in Open to all.


The fees for studying in 2023-24 are as follows: 

Independent students studying for a Certificate (year 1 for 70 credits) £100 registration fee (non-refundable) + (1 x £435 + 2 x £430) = £1,295 or a lump sum of £1,395 (incl. registration).

Independents in 2nd year of Certificate programme (year 2 = 50 credits) £100 registration fee (non-refundable) + (2 x £310 + 1 x £305) = £925 or lump sum of £1,025 (incl. registration).

Sitting-in £60 per day or £360 for all Saturdays (7 per year) if paid before the date of the first weekend.

Anglican students in the process of discernment and recommended to study by the DDO may obtain a bursary toward this. Please ask.

Diploma & BA Independent students studying for 60 credits at either Level 5 or 6: £100 registration fee (non-refundable) + (3 x £480)  or a lump sum of £1,540 (incl. registration).

Reflections 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.”