Hendrika (Hong Kong) – 2020

HendrikaI came across this programme when I was looking for a Masters that would combine two of my interest: politics and theology. I decided to apply and the programme has exceeded my expectations!

I have had the pleasure to learn more about surveillance, art and I am currently learning about hermeneutics. The programme has helped me to think more critically and it has expanded my knowledge about subjects that I would naturally not engage with theologically – although they are a big part of our contemporary life!

The program offers a wide variety of specialised subjects but also gives the opportunity to learn from fellow students from diverse backgrounds as well. The online platform gives you the opportunity to continue conversations that started during the residential study week. The programme has been set up as a distance course which means communication channels work exceptionally well.

I believe this programme so far has helped me in my work in ministry in Hong Kong and I am sure it will continue to do so.

Hendrika (Hong Kong) – 2020

David (England) – 2020

David

Having the opportunity to study at the prestigious University of St Andrews, in the St Mary’s School of Divinity, has been a wonderful experience for me. The MLitt Bible and the Contemporary World course, in particular, has been especially useful because as a trained local preacher, with ministerial aspirations, I needed the tools to expand my theological horizons.

The variety of contemporary modules and the high standard of teaching have equipped me with practical tools for ministry and academic work, including research. As a result, I am hoping to further my studies when this programme is completed, by embarking on a PhD in theology.

David (England), class of 2020.

Fin (Ghana) – 2018

At the beginning of 2016, I arrived at St Andrews for the first time, an engineer and business executive, seeking to gain some theological understanding towards an intended priesthood ministry. The two years that would follow would turn out to be a journey of both world class intellectual discipline and personal awareness of our relationship with God and one another. In particular, this programme provided a platform for reflecting on key theological themes and the realities of today’s world through major voices and opinions. As diverse as the topics and views covered were the diversity of the programme’s attendants and their backgrounds that span different professions, age and geographical origins.

At the end of those two years, I leave St Andrews with the fondest of experiences and a body of knowledge that could only be a strong foundation and a planted seed of desire for life-long learning. I reflect back on the journey that brought me some 5,000 miles from Accra to St Andrews and remain convinced that it was worth every single mile of it.

– Fin (Ghana)

Ron and David (UK) – 2019

Ron (left) and David (right) – both UK

Ron (UK)

I had always planned to step into the waters of postgraduate study, even when I was at school, as I have always enjoyed learning and find mental exertions to be extremely gratifying. I will admit too, that study has been the primary way I have developed my own faith and relationship with God. Having completed my per-accredited ministerial training I could say that university study wasn’t foreign to me; I have three undergraduate degrees at varying levels – as much a commentary of my search for a “calling” as anything else.

I knew instinctively that for my own growth as a minister and as a professional, that further study would be required as I needed the structure of a “course” in order to motivate and allow me to manage my time. I actually had a false start at another University before coming to St Andrews, but this time really emphasized the importance of being in an institution that took both its responsibility to students and management of its degrees seriously.

In applying for this course I was cautious then; I visited the university who were more than happy to work with me and answer all my questions as well as getting reviews from other previous students who are also Baptist ministers. In the end, it was like a jigsaw piece fitting in place. The staff, the atmosphere and the location were all exactly what I needed, and the units that were presented were all ideal for those wishing to extend their own knowledge of Applied Theology. The structure allows me to continue to be a pastor of my local Church, whilst demanding that I give nothing but my best to the work I have chosen.

I loved stepping into the residential week and being blown away with the knowledge and expertise of those leading us – who all maintained a dignity and enthusiasm for their subject what was just downright infectious. There is absolutely no indication that this degree could be seen as anything less than a vital and included part of the research and education in Divinity which has spanned centuries in this corner of Scotland; I worried it would maybe seem like a course held at arms length by a University that had bigger fish to fry: nothing of the sort. I have only recently completed the unit on the Book of Revelation, it has already affected my preaching, my passion, my relationship with Christ and indeed, my on going ministry with my Church. I believe wholeheartedly that even if I stopped now, I would be both a better Pastor, and a better man. I look forward to what the future holds – who knows, maybe I will even try for that PhD when I get done…

David (UK)

My interest in the course stems initially from my role as Authorised Local Preacher and Director of Music at my Parish Church. My academic background is in languages, and I had never previously studied theology at university level. The course at St Andrews was particularly attractive to me, since I had got to know this wonderful university while attending the Summer Organ Week on several occasions. Distance learning was at first a daunting prospect, but suited my current lifestyle.

As soon as I attended the residential for my first module (The Bible and Contemporary Issues), I knew that this was the right course for me. The topics of study were totally relevant to my preaching, and the lectures and discussions were thoroughly stimulating. I have gained so much from interaction with my fellow students, whose opinions and backgrounds are inspiringly diverse. The reading to be done at home is demanding, but I have enjoyed doing it, and have fitted it in to my life without too much difficulty. The essay titles have been thought-provoking, and I have managed to meet all the deadlines. The feedback from the essays has been very positive and helpful, and I feel a real sense of progress since I began the course.

I have now completed my second module (The Book of Revelation), which is perhaps even more challenging than the first, but equally motivating. Support and critical feedback from the tutors have been excellent, and I look forward to each unit with great interest. I initially anticipated that the course would broaden my horizons considerably, give me a disciplined opportunity to read and study the Bible, and be of practical use at church. It is certainly doing all of that.

Rachel (USA) – 2018

After teaching high school English in the States for a nearly a decade, I decided I wanted to be a student again. I had a job and strong support system where I lived in California and didn’t want to uproot myself in order to attend university. However, I didn’t like the idea of completing my degree purely online without any real-life interaction with classmates or professors. When I looked into the distance learning option from St. Andrews, I realized that maybe I could have the best of both worlds.

My goal in pursuing this degree (the distance learning MLitt. in Bible and the Contemporary World) has been to grow as a thinker, teacher, and writer. This program has far surpassed my expectations. During the brief but full study weeks in St. Andrews at the beginning of each module, I’ve made connections with classmates and professors that have kept me motivated and sane as I’ve worked from home, at my kitchen table, in the States. There is no “busy work” involved. Every lecture, assigned reading, and essay has been thoughtful and has required that I dig deeply into the ideas and texts. Whether I go on to teach at a university or write books, I know that this program has equipped me to do both. I have zero regrets about the investment of time and money I’ve made because attending St. Andrews has given me an excuse to travel, meet a diverse group of people, and challenge the small box of my own thinking. I have grown as a student and as a person.

I am currently at the dissertation stage of my MLitt., and for the next few months I will be surrounded by stacks of books and cups of coffee. I love getting to explore a subject that I’m passionate about on such a deep level, with the guidance of the professors at St. Andrews. Attending this program has been, hands down, one of the best decisions I have ever made.

[Ed. Rachel has since graduated, in June 2018.]

– Rachel (USA)

Martina (Slovakia) – 2016

Martina from the 2016 Bible and the Contemporary World distance learning programmeThe Bible and Contemporary World programme gave me an opportunity to explore in depth some of the pressing issues of today from a Christian perspective. I joined the programme with a lot of questions and completed it with having some answers and even more questions, but much better equipped to grapple with them.

The possibility to study with flexibility at a distance without compromising the quality, being taught and guided by some of the most excellent scholars in the field and being part of one of the most diverse group of students I have ever encountered made it a unique and wonderfully enriching experience I thoroughly enjoyed.

– Martina (Slovakia)

Marcello, Miles, Chris and Gray – 2018 & 2019

Left to right: Marcello, Miles, Chris, Gray

Marcello (Italy)

After completing a degree at the end of last year, I was trying to understand my next step and I’m happy I found this course after much searching. From what I’ve seen I would say that the MLitt degree in ‘Bible and the Contemporary World’ at St Andrews is probably one of the best distance learning courses in Theology available. The possibility of studying from home was also particularly important for me as I run a guesthouse near La Spezia, Italy, and I’m also involved in teaching in my area. In addition, I like the way the course is quite interdisciplinary and seeks to understand how to apply the Bible in today’s world. Moreover, even though I come from a Pentecostal background (AoG), I appreciate the theology and work of Richard Bauckham — who helped establish the course. In these two years I’m hoping to improve my writing skills, but also my critical thinking; I also believe that the programme will teach me how to research topics at a more advanced level.

So far I’ve found the course to be excellent; the organisation is great, we had lectures from top-level professors during the study week, and the group discussions have been intellectually stimulating. Additionally, there has been a nice positive atmosphere during the course, and professors and staff are always willing to help. Even though it’s part-time I would say that the course is fairly demanding and quite a high level of coursework is required.

Miles (UK)

I chose the Bible and the Contemporary World MLitt at St Andrews because I was looking for a course that combined academic rigour, interaction with the biblical texts and real-world application. I also knew that any study I embarked upon would have to be flexible, to fit around family and work, so the distance learning option was ideal.

I’ve just finished my first module and so far the course has ticked every box. The residential study week in St Andrews was superb. It laid an excellent foundation and included lectures from leading scholars in their fields. The interaction with other students is also incredibly valuable and sets this course apart from other distance learning options that are 100% online.

The assignments have been thought-provoking and academically stretching and the reading has exposed me to scholars and viewpoints I’d never encountered before. However, the essays always push you to anchor your conclusions in the contemporary world, and this is a real strength of the course.

Already, I’ve begun to notice how the themes we’ve been studying have enriched my preaching and I’m certain that I’ll continue to see the course’s value in my ongoing ministry. I would wholeheartedly recommend the Bible and the Contemporary MLitt to anyone looking for a flexible course, that strikes the right balance between academic excellence and contemporary relevance.”

Chris (UK)

I recently moved into full-time church leadership after many years of working in education. During my first year in my new year role I explored a variety of potential options which would allow me to study theology whilst maintaining a demanding full-time leadership position. The MLitt at St. Andrews came highly recommended by a variety of different people, including past students on the course. As I explored the course in greater depth, the content and approach appealed to me, especially the emphasis on the connection between the Bible and contemporary issues.

My experience of the course to date has been excellent. My initial week in St. Andrews for my first module on the Book of Revelation was hard work but also highly enjoyable. The quality of the core teaching was excellent and the variety of guest lecturers organised added a great deal to the learning experience. The cohort of students was also looked after extremely well, with clear guidance and information given and social get-togethers organised to build friendships. The variety of students on the course, both in terms of geography and theology, made conversations more interesting, stimulating and challenging.

The distance-learning aspect of the course is also very well-organised and well delivered. The work is extremely challenging but the support and feedback on coursework has been very detailed, insightful and helpful in leading to improvement. I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge of the course so far and looking forward to my future visits to St. Andrews!

Gray (USA)

As a pastor, I am very concerned to show the relevance of Scripture and theology on issues of ethics and morality in our rapidly changing culture. The MLitt Bible and the Contemporary World program has strengthened my ability to think theologically about a wide range of topics, enhancing my ministry to the church while preparing me for future academic endeavors. In addition, the program has afforded me the opportunity of studying abroad at one of the foremost divinity schools in the world in beautiful St Andrews. I am grateful to be a part of this program!

Betty (France) – 2018

I had been looking for a Masters course in theology, by distance learning, for some time. This course covered material that interested me, in a way that allowed for in-depth study and not just a superficial overview. I wanted to deepen my understanding of God’s Word and its application to contemporary ethical and political issues.

As an Anglican lay reader and leader of two regular Bible studies, I find that people to whom I minister are hungry for greater understanding of the Bible. In ministry, people often ask me, “What does the Bible say about XYZ?”, or “Does this verse mean that PQR practice is wrong?” I was seeking to learn rigorous approaches to hermeneutics: ways in which the Bible can be interpreted and soundly applied to contemporary social and political issues.

I appreciated the fact that there is a short attendance requirement but that most of the actual learning takes place at home, with four major essays per semester. I knew the university by reputation and believed that it would provide a worthwhile learning experience.

From participating in the course, I have had the opportunity to wrestle with a variety of social and political viewpoints. Digging deeply into a range of texts has led to much time spent in contemplation of the Scriptures, which has often led me to meditative prayer and to some very difficult but very rewarding “dialogues” with God. The in-depth essays have helped me to hone my writing skills and to express theological and ethical ideas in structured and (hopefully) convincing arguments.

– Betty (France)