A research degree at Union School of Theology will allow you to study a subject in depth under the supervision of leading evangelical scholars. There are no class-based taught modules, which means that, wherever you are in the world, study can be undertaken.
The PhD is a postgraduate award achieved following the production of a research-based thesis (c.80,000 words). Union School of Theology offers the PhD degree through a collaborative partnership with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Free University of Amsterdam). The Vrije Universiteit (VU) is one of Europe’s leading universities, with a strong interest in Reformed theology, so this is an exciting partnership. In the 2018 QS rating of universities the Vrije Universiteit ranks no. 5 worldwide in the field of Theology and Religious Studies. 
This partnership builds on the heritage of UST’s work in promoting research in Evangelical and Reformed theology, and the substantial experience of successfully supervising successful students to PhD completion. UST welcomes PhD research students particularly in the fields of Biblical Studies, Historical Theology and Church History.
Every PhD student registered through the partnership with the Vrije Universiteit (VU) will have one or more supervisors from Union School of Theology, and one supervisor from the VU who is designated as the promoter
Union is dedicated to raising up the next generation of Christian scholars who will resource and equip the church with theology of the highest quality. Our research degrees give students the opportunity to explore their subject in great depth, supported by a dedicated supervisory team led by the Director of Research, Professor Robert Letham.
Union School of Theology’s research degrees are offered as part of the School’s culture of writing and research designed to serve the church. This research culture involves studying as part of a community, and students are required to attend the annual Research Conference held each year on the Union Campus, for around 3 days duration. Here they discuss and present papers on their research work, interact with their research supervisors and other research students, and have opportunity to engage with other leading theological scholars. Students need to budget time and finance to attend this Research Conference each year. They may also need to visit research libraries, archives, or undertake field research, and will need to budget funds to do this. The only other attendance requirement is for the public oral defense of their thesis in Amsterdam at the end of their studies. VU will provide funding for travel and accommodation for this.
Students will also undertake a short period of mentored research induction at the start of their PhD studies to create a portfolio of research skills and activities. This can be undertaken online and through attendance at the UST Research Conference each year.
If you are considering a research degree, you will need a very strong academic background, normally with a Masters in Theology at a high grade, as well as a research subject within the area of interest of relevant supervisors and which will edify the Church.
The time it takes to complete your research can vary.
- PhD (full time) normally takes three years. You must submit within four years.
- PhD (part time) should take no less than four calendar years You must submit within seven years.
For details of the Vrije Universiteit Faculty of Theology’s Graduate School and its PhD awards see:
If you decide to apply for a research degree in theology with UST, you will be asked to submit a pre-application research proposal. This proposal consists of a title, 500-word summary, 6 to 8 chapter headings, and 50 indicative references. Please allow at least three months for this to be processed before your intended start date. Please send your proposal or request for further information about this to firstname.lastname@example.org
If your pre-application is accepted you will be asked to submit an online application for which the fee is £300. If your application is accepted, £250 is credited to your first year’s course fees.
Possible start dates are in September, January, and May.
The Research PhD is awarded by the Vrije Universiteit (VU)