Training for Ordination

Training for Ordination

“My experience of formation with SWMTC, firmly rooted in my home church, in work, in family, and in study has been incredibly positive. Each has informed the other, readying me and equipping me for 21st century ministry.”

SWMTC offers part-time training for Ordinands within the Church of England. Ordination candidates are sponsored by their home Diocese.

Why train with SWMTC? We are committed to theological learning that is deeply rooted in local contexts. We understand the church in the South West, and our training and formation prepares people for ministry in a variety of settings. Students are able to continue working and belonging to their local church, while receiving an accredited high quality theological education and receiving formation within a community of worship, prayer and learning. And there is much more…

The taught programme

The taught commitment for each year is: 24 evening classes and two study days; six residential weekends; Easter School; and four Tutor group meetings.

Evening classes are taught locally in Exeter and Truro (and, for Level 4 modules, Plymouth) and cover the material of New Encounters in Theology.

In Year 1, the residential weekend programme covers: the context, shape and dynamics of the local church; pastoral skills; ethics; leading worship; and preaching. In Years 2 and 3 there is a two year rolling programme: one year concentrating on mission and evangelism in contemporary culture; and the other on the church’s ministry, including baptism, Eucharist, reconciliation and ordination.

Lent/Easter School deals in Year 1 with ministry and the church in different contexts, and in Years 2 and 3 alternates between pastoral care in one year; and death, dying and bereavement the other.

Students also develop their understanding of mission and worship in the local church by leading services, preaching and leading small discipleship groups. Alongside this are sessions in how adults learn and communication skills. Students are also able to pursue an area of theology or ministerial practice that interests them via independent learning projects. Tutor groups cover spirituality and practical liturgy.

Ordinands usually attain a Diploma in Theology, Ministry & Mission, with the option of progressing to BA Honours degree. These awards are validated by the Common Awards programme of Durham University and the Church of England.


Our students have the opportunity to undertake two placements during training.

The observation placement provides an opportunity for Ordinands to learn from a church context very different from their own.

The long placement provides an opportunity for Ordinands to learn from experienced ministers about the planning and practice of liturgical, educational and pastoral tasks.


The staff tutor is the member of the core SWMTC staff responsible for supporting and monitoring the student’s formation.

Ordinands are allocated a personal tutor, who serves as critical friend to the student’s personal and theological development, working with them on their learning journal, and facilitating their long placement. The personal tutor is appointed by SWMTC in consultation with the sponsoring church and the candidate. They are based in local communities and work independently of the core SWMTC staff.

The home minister is a key person in enabling the growth and development of the Ordinand’s vocation. They may have travelled a similar road in the past, and will almost certainly know the student already and supported them during the selection process. The home minister can also offer the example of an ordained life, provide pastoral support to the student and any family, and share their skills and experience.

All ordinands are strongly encouraged to have a spiritual director or ‘soul friend’ to whom they can speak in absolute confidence about their life of prayer and journey of vocation, during their training and beyond.

How to Apply

SWMTC training for licensed ministry is available only to those who have been selected for training by the Church of England. Applications must therefore be made through your local diocese, which will have a rigorous selection procedure involving a process of interviews and meetings, followed by a formal selection conference.

Enquiries: If you are considering training for ordination, your own home minister should be the first contact. If this is not possible, you may contact the following.

Vocations Officer

Diocesan Directors of Ordinands

Open days: SWMTC holds Open Days for prospective ordinands, which provide an opportunity to see SWMTC at work and to chat to existing students and staff. Please contact the Training Coordinator and Administrator on for details of our next Open Day.

Entry requirements: Students will usually have a degree or equivalent. You may be asked to study New Encounters in Theology modules during the selection process. In the Diocese of Exeter, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands may recommend the Foundations in Christian Ministry year to those exploring ordained ministry.

Fees: For Church of England ordination candidates, the Ministry Division of the Archbishops’ Council covers all pre-ordination training fees, and provides a book grant and travel expenses.

“I could not have contemplated training in a college because of my family and work circumstances at the time, so training on a regional course was ideal for me. I am able to train, work, see my family and keep in touch with my home church all at the same time, which means that I can keep a sense of reality while I am training. One of the great advantages of SWMTC over college courses is the variety of churchmanship and styles which we are exposed to – we work with and learn from each other and I believe leave the course with a rounded and wide formation for ministry. The balance between practical and theoretical learning is just about right… I feel I have made many friends over the three years and the staff have been supportive and challenging at the same time. SWMTC is a real family community which its students value for the rest of their ministry.”