Validated by The Open University, this highly flexible and innovative programme brings a world-class, robust theological education within reach geographically, financially, and in terms of time commitment. Students are embedded in a spiritually formative Learning Community within a local church context and so can apply their learning on the go. Teaching is delivered by our faculty, while students are supported locally by an experienced Lead Mentor and receive resources including books, learning materials and academic tools through our Union Cloud platform.
Learning alongside others is vital to gospel-hearted theological education. Meeting weekly as a community, GDip students not only grow together theologically but also personally and spiritually and so are equipped for all-round gospel ministry. The programme covers foundational aspects of biblical studies, church history, systematic theology and pastoral and preaching studies, and students can also choose to learn Hebrew or Greek. The GDip corresponds to Level 6 in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (equivalent to the final year of a BA (Hons) degree) and is completed in two years of part-time study. It’s designed for those who already have a degree in a subject other than theology, some basic theological knowledge and some ministry experience (those without a degree can take the GDip on an unaccredited basis).
Many GDip students study alongside current ministry roles or work and family commitments, but graduates have gone on to serve as assistant pastors, church planters, youth and children’s workers, evangelists or women’s workers. A significant number also choose to pursue further studies on our MTh programme (which the GDip feeds into) and have planted churches which have been supported by Union Mission.
“I really value Union’s approach to theological education - they don’t just want to raise up leaders with big minds, but leaders with a real heart for Christ and his people. That’s obvious in how well-rounded the GDip is: it’s in-depth theological study but it’s aimed at helping you personally pastor and point people to Christ”.
James, a GDip graduate
Faculty on the GDip
Faculty teaching on the GDip programme include internationally respected and pastorally experienced theologians. For more information on our faculty, visit this page.
Programme Details and Contents
The GDip is delivered through our network of local Learning Communities. Communities meet for one day a week during two semesters each year. All the teaching and assessment is delivered by UST faculty through tailor-made video lectures as well as some live video lectures. A local Lead Mentor, typically an experienced church pastor, facilitates activity and discussion with resources supplied through our Union Cloud platform.
The programme provides a solid grounding for fruitful ministry. Students study the bible and have the option to learn biblical languages. They study 2000 years of church history from Pentecost to the present day – understanding how and why the church has responded to the challenges it’s faced and how that applies to ministry in today’s world. They also study systematic theology as well as pastoral and preaching studies so they are equipped to pastor, teach and lead others.
On the GDip, biblical languages are delivered at a beginner level, though students will progress quickly. For example, in Greek a student can expect to read the letter of Philemon by the end of their first 11-week semester and any of John’s writings by the end of the second semester. Many GDip students choose to further their language skills by taking our MTh language modules, either as a complete MTh or as standalone modules.
“Learning in the community has been really helpful as it has grounded my learning in the context that I serve in. I lead worship in our church and the programme has helped me think through my understanding of worship, theology of prayer and the purpose of church gatherings. Most of all it’s shaped my own personal walk with Christ in ways I’m very grateful for.”
Owain, a GDip student
The GDip is made up of six 20 credit modules which are delivered in alternative years (3 modules one year and three the next) so that new students study the same modules as students in their second year. Successful completion of the six modules (totalling 120 credits (60 ECTS)) will lead to the award of the Graduate Diploma in Theology. One module from each area of biblical, theological and pastoral studies is delivered at once so that students see how each area of study feeds into the others (i.e. how biblical studies shapes theological studies, and how they together shape pastoral and preaching studies).
|Biblical Studies||Theological and Historical Studies||Ministerial Practice|
Studies in the Old & New Testaments
Hebrew Grammar (option 1)
Biblical Texts: English Exegesis (option 3)
Studies in Systematic Theology
Turning Points in Church History
Studies in Preaching & Pastoral Theology
Church & Mission
Children’s, Youth and Family Ministry*
* When there is demand this module is delivered in a one-week residential teaching block.
The schedule of modules being delivered in learning communities in any given year is available by contacting UST or the relevant Learning Community.
Students will typically need to study around 20-25 hours per week over the 22 teaching weeks [split into two 11-week semesters] each academic year. This includes one study day a week spent in the Learning Community and it is up to students how they spread their remaining study time across a week. Students join the Learning Community nearest their place of residence, to allow ease of access.
The GDip can be taken as a standalone programme or as the foundation for our Masters degree. An average mark of 50% in the GDip is required for consideration for entry to the MTh.
Our network of Learning Communities is spread throughout the world. Please visit this page (https://www.ust.ac.uk/locations/where-we-are) to find your nearest one. If there isn’t one near you, please get in touch with our team who will try to help (https://www.ust.ac.uk/admissions/enquiry-form).
To take the GDip on an accredited basis (i.e. toward a formal qualification), prospective students should already have a degree in any subject other than theology. Other qualifications and experience which demonstrate an applicant’s suitability may also be acceptable. For those without a previous degree, it is possible to take the GDip on an unaccredited basis and unaccredited students who achieve an average mark of 50% can be considered for accredited study on our MTh.
The regular entry point for study is September of each year. Applications for a September start should be submitted by 31st July. We will accept applications after this date, however we cannot guarantee that they will be processed in time for the beginning of the academic year.
- Taken part-time over two years
- Normally students need to study for 20-25 hours per week during the 22 weeks of semester time. There is no expectation that students should need to undertake significant study outside of these 22 weeks.
- Is delivered through local Learning Communities
- Students study alongside one another and are supported by a local Lead Mentor
- Corresponds to Level 6 in the Framework of High Education Qualifications