Master of Practical Theology

The Master of Practical Theology is a course for the ministry practitioner who desires to be theoretically informed and theologically faithful within their vocation.

The Master of Practical Theology graduate is a mindful person who can effectively analyse, cultivate positive culture change, by researching, interpreting and resolving challenging situations in a consistently Christian manner, thereby lifting the capacity of their organisation to fulfill its particular mission or positively affect its surrounding community context.

More specifically, through the Master of Practical Theology Eastern College Australia is looking to produce

  • Reflective Practitioners: Who possess the ability to think in a Christian way about ministry practice utilising the critical grids of broadly evangelical theological traditions in tandem with an interpretive grid from the human sciences. That is, this course would exemplify the tri-focal integration of the discipline ‘Practical Theology’.
  • Diagnostic Strategists: The capacity to analyse ministry situations, diagnosing needs of communities, organisations and particular groups.
  • Integrated Persons: The capacity to work out a vital spirituality with ethical integrity within their ministry context.
  • Catalytic Contributors: The capacity to transform local and organisational cultures via adaptive leadership practices that involve and build up those who own the ministry and the problems.
  • Action Researchers: the capacity to research and change the dynamic of living ministry as it happens and in a way so it happens more effectively.
  • With ‘Big-Picture’ Perspective: Eastern would develop the capacity to understand issues and predicaments within the macroscopic lens of social trends shifts in the current ideological context.

The Master of Practical Theology builds on the Church specialisation of the Master of Arts in Vocational Practice which utilised the Openseminary methodology and was the product of a rich collaboration between Eastern College Australia and TEAR Australia. Senior staff from CBM, Interserve, World Vision, TEAR, Malaysian Care, and the Asian Graduate School of Theology (Alliance) contributed their expertise and wisdom to the new course.

Description

The Master of Practical Theology is a coursework and project/minor thesis structure taken over an 18 month period full time. The actual components are designed to fit with the developmental needs of the individual candidates and in negotiation with their current employer.

The methodology involves an emphasis upon theological reflection, theoretical grid acquisition and qualitative research during each unit, leading to a phenomenological, ethnographic or action learning/action research major or minor project based on an current predicament or systemic dynamic.

There is an emphasis on developing the capacity of candidates to diagnose, strategise and communicate insights or even recommendations that meet the developmental needs of both candidate and their organisational context or community base.

Course Outcomes

  • Critique a range of current theoretical frameworks that can inform the traditional practical theological domains of leadership/administration, mission, pastoralia, worship or homiletics.
  • Conceptualise ministry or related vocational practice through theological reflection incorporating human science, culture studies and Christian theological lenses.
  • Analyse ministry situations or organizational life with a view to developing and improving these contexts and cultures through research in action utilizing the phenomena of their own context.
  • Develop a clearer praxis with a view to forming a more consistently ethical, self aware and just approach to work-life or ministry.

Delivery locations

  • Mulgrave (Full)

Admission Criteria

The candidate must:

  • have full-time vocational experience of at least two years; and
  • possess a primary degree in theology or related field.

For those with a primary degree in an unrelated field admission is on the basis of the completion of a Graduate Certificate in Arts (24 credit points) from the current theological offerings through Eastern College Australia completed at a credit grade point average.

Candidates with a primary degree and a Eastern College Australia Graduate Diploma of Arts specialising in Theology or equivalent are granted advanced standing of 12 credit points.

This course is only available to domestic students (those not requiring a student visa).

English Language Requirement

An applicant for studies in the above courses will be deemed to have sufficient English proficiency if:

  • They were born in one of the following countries and have completed at least one qualification (secondary or tertiary) in one of those countries and the language in which the qualification was undertaken was English
    • American Samoa; Australia; Botswana; Canada; Fiji; Ghana; Guyana; Ireland; Jamaica; Kenya; Lesotho; Liberia; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Singapore; Solomon Islands; South Africa; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; United Kingdom; USA; Zambia; Zimbabwe.
  • They were not born in one of the following countries but have completed senior secondary study or at least one year of full-time university study in one of these countries and the language in which the qualification was undertaken was English:
    • American Samoa; Australia; Botswana; Canada; Fiji; Ghana; Guyana; Ireland; Jamaica; Kenya; Lesotho; Liberia; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Singapore; Solomon Islands; South Africa; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; United Kingdom; USA; Zambia; Zimbabwe.
  • They have successfully completed a senior secondary qualification, a post secondary Diploma qualification of at least two years, an undergraduate program of three years or more, or a postgraduate program of two years or more FT or more, undertaken in a non-English speaking country provided the study:
    • was completed in an institution which is listed in the International Handbook of Universities, World Higher Education Database, UK Naric Database or AEI NOOSR guides or an institution accredited through one of ICETE’s registered accrediting bodies and is confirmed by the institution as having been conducted and examined solely in the English language.
  • They have attained results as listed in one of the following qualifications:

    Test Minimum Results
    IELTS Academic 6.5 (no band less than 6.0)
    TOEFL (Paper based) 575+ Test of Writing English 4
    TOEFL (Internet) 85+ Writing 21, Speaking 20, Reading 20, Listening 20
    Pearson Test of English (Academic) 64 No communicative score below 58
    Cambridge English Advanced 62 No less than Borderline in writing

Course Structure

Candidates have a choice of two structures: the most common, RPL excepted, would be to complete four 12 credit point coursework units including one core unit in theological reflection and three elective units after which they complete a 24 credit point project of 20,000 words (+ or - 10%).

Each unit involves 10,000 words of assessment usually involving, formative assessment across the domains of theological reflection, theoretical integration and action learning involving an application of various interpretive grids to typical community or organisational issues. Journalling and other reflective tasks are a standard part of most units.

All candidates will complete a research project. It is envisaged that most will want to tackle a larger 20,000-25,000 word project taken over two semesters while others may prefer to take a fifth unit and attempt a smaller 10,000-12,000 word project.

While there may be exceptions due to the contextual constraints upon the candidate, most projects will involve some form of narrative, appreciative inquiry, or action research upon a challenging phenomena within the typical context; an inquiry that is of value to both the candidate and their peers.

The larger project enables candidates to engage in both the longitudinal exploration of more cycles of inquiry and evaluation and a deeper level of theological reflection. The smaller research project would more likely focus upon analysis of recollected data or phenomenological approaches.

There is one core unit all students take TH901.512 Theological Reflection Models and Methods. This underpins their elective choices and especially their research projects and deepens their appreciation of other coursework units. This would normally be taken in the candidate’s first enrolled year.

Either one-third or one-sixth of the course will be completed by research. Those completing RP990.512 Minor Research Project will complete a pertinent qualitative and or quantitative investigation through a practical theological lens. This completing RP991.524 Major Research Project will complete a study using a pertinent longitudinal methodology usually related to a form of action research, in the investigation of a change initiative within an organisation or community in which the individual is granted access by those responsible.

Pathways

i. Candidates entering via a Graduate Certificate in Arts specialising in Theology or equivalent may exit after completion of two units of the Master of Practical Theology (24 cp) and be awarded with the Eastern College Australia Graduate Diploma of Arts, specialising in theology.

ii. Candidates entering with a primary degree in theology or ministry may exit after the completion of four units and be awarded with a Graduate Diploma of Arts, specialising in theology.

iii. Candidates with the successful completion of four units and the major research project would most likely be accepted into research doctorates.

iv. All graduates would normally be eligible for entry into local professional doctoral programs.

Other Protocols

At the outset of the course, candidates require the endorsement of their current employer or ministry director. The basic growth areas of the candidate are determined at this time so as to map out both a provisional learning pathway and potential area of research. Access to one or more sites for analysis or action research are also negotiated at this time particularly with reference to the focus of the research project. Research may also be conducted within sites unrelated to the candidates current role and responsibility.

While all research proposals require ethical clearance from the Eastern College Australia HREC, as is customary in such situations, candidates will negotiate access to the organisational or community contexts as part of gaining approval for their research proposal prior to the commencement of these.

Specialisations

Master of Practical Theology Core Core
Master of Practical Theology Research Core Core

Units attached to this course

Unit Code Unit Name
MN920.512 Frameworks for Effective Leadership
MN921.512 Organisational Culture: Systems and Change
MN930.512 The Missional Renewal of the Urban Church
MN950.512 Transformational Preaching
MN951.512 Christian Spirituality for the Professional
RP990.512 Minor Research Project
RP991.524 Major Research Project
TH901.512 Theological Reflection Models and Methods
TH920.512 The Unwelcome Church: Ecclesiology for a Post-Christian Age
TH971.512 Life Balance for Professional Life and Ministry Endurance