Undergraduate Studies - Bachelor of Divinity

Conferred through Maryvale HIRS by Faculté Nôtre Dame in Paris

Ecclesiastical Bachelor of Divinity

The Ecclesiastical Bachelor of Divinity is a five-year part-time, collaborative-learning degree programme in Catholic theology providing a comprehensive exposition and analysis of Christian doctrine based on the study of the sacred Scriptures, the works of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the documents of the Magisterium. This degree is established by the Holy See (which is a signatory to the 1999 Bologna Declaration) according to the norms governing Higher Institutes of Religious Sciences (HIRS) and is conferred through Maryvale HIRS by Faculté Nôtre-Dame in Paris under the authority of the Holy See.

Although based at Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, the Programme attracts students from the whole of the United Kingdom and all over the world.

La Faculté Nôtre-Dame

Who is the programme aimed at?

Students are typically from all walks of life, aged 18–75, married, single, and religious. Some have strong academic backgrounds; others have done little academic work since leaving school. The Programme provides an academic formation specialising in Catholic theology and also develops the religious formation of the students so that they may participate more fully in the life and mission of the Church. While ecclesiastical degrees are intended for Catholics, this Programme is open to anyone interested in Catholic theology and comfortable with Maryvale’s Catholic ethos.

Students are expected to commit approximately 15-20 hours per week to their studies.

What are the entry requirements?

In general, entry to this degree programme is ‘open’ in the sense that no specific previous qualifications are needed but evidence will be sought of ability for degree level work and the application will need to be supported by appropriate references. The Programme is delivered in English and evidence of competence in the language may be required of those for whom English is not their first language.

How long is the programme?

The Ecclesiastical Bachelor of Divinity is a five year, part-time, distance learning degree programme.

It is possible, within the structure of the BDiv Programme, to study only part of the Programme and leave with the award of:

  • a Maryvale Certificate (after Year 2) or
  • a Maryvale Diploma (after Year 4)

When does the next course start?

A new programme begins each autumn.

Aims of the Programme

  • To provide a comprehensive academic formation in Catholic theology.
  • To develop a critical sense and academic judgement so as to evaluate different theological positions.
  • To help those participating to discover and realise their vocation in the Church.
  • To nourish each person's spiritual life through growth in understanding.


The Programme commences in September and normally consists of two residential weekends and one longer residential weekend per year.** Between residential periods students work from home, writing six essays per year. Academic grades are based on the essays and an examination at the end of each year. In the current situation, residential periods may have to take place virtually, but it is an important feature of the Programme that students and staff gradually get to know each other.

**In response to restrictions imposed and uncertainties raised by Covid-19, Maryvale Institute will conduct all residentials and study days online until 31 July 2021 in the first instance. The situation will be monitored and reviewed regularly for course delivery after this time.**


  • History of Philosophy
  • Systematic Philosophy
  • Holy Scripture
  • Fundamental Theology
  • Dogmatic Theology
  • Moral Theology
  • Spiritual Theology
  • Liturgical and Sacramental Theology
  • Patrology and the History of the Church
  • Canon Law
  • Biblical Catechesis

Higher Institute of Religious Sciences Regulations

Course Fees

The level of course fees payable depends on whether you are a UK/EU or a non-EU student. Please ensure that you refer to the appropriate section on the course fees page.


Each module is assessed by the completion of one or more assignments and a written or oral examination.


Successful completion of the Programme leads to the award of the Ecclesiastical Bachelor of Divinity degree, validated by Faculté Nôtre-Dame de Paris.

It is also possible, within the structure of the B.Divinity Programme, to terminate with the award of a Maryvale Certificate (after Year 2) or Maryvale Diploma (after Year 4).

How do I apply?

Applications are welcome any time up to the first week of September.

To apply, please download the BDiv application form and other documents. Once submitted to Maryvale Institute, your application will be processed by the Admissions Committee (with supporting documentation, such as references) which can take up to six weeks.


If you have a disability or any long-term condition that impacts on your day-to-day life, please download the Accessibility Form, open and edit it in Acrobat Reader, and email or post the completed document to the Accessibility Coordinator (address included on the form), to ensure we can give you the best possible support during your course of study. Disclosing a disability will not be a factor in Institute’s decision as to whether or not to offer you a place on the course. However, it is important that the Institute knows if you have any specialist needs in order to provide you with appropriate support and facilities. This information will remain strictly confidential. For further information, please contact the Accessibility Coordinator by using the contact button below:

For further information

Please contact us either by making an online enquiry below or by calling 0121 360 8118.

Student Feedback:

Reflections from the February 2020 BDiv Study Weekend

  • "Absolutely fantastic! Through [the lecturer…] I’ve fell in love with philosophy. I could have listened all day to him."
  • "[The lecturer…] was gentle, patient, respectful and clear."
  • "Excellent – clear and reassuringly structured."
  • "Love listening to someone so passionate about their subject."
  • "To be able to study in a Catholic environment and be taught by lecturers who share my faith is a very great blessing.Very, very good session and well presented, very informative and lecturer is very knowledgeable. What a wonderful session, thanks to [the lecturer..]"
  • [The lecturer’s…] enthusiasm and evident passion for the subject of Mariology fired me up for wanting to learn more and gave me a good understanding of the basics.
  • "Excellent lectures drawing out the important theological themes and relating to the other areas of study. Excellent resources, colour handouts, use of bullet points and imagery and a variety of teaching methods enabling the student to engage fully with the session."
  • "[The lecturer’s…] excellent knowledge and insight into the subject. His clear explanations and good examples used to demonstrate points."
  • "Incredible knowledge of [the] lecturer, handouts relevant and useful."
  • "Outstanding hospitality well organised as always, wonderful support from sisters, including meals. Thank you for another wonderful weekend- I have learnt so much."
  • "Very informative and well delivered. Inspiring and interesting."
  • "The lecturer presented the topic at hand with great love, reverence and conviction. He encouraged class interaction."
  • "The lecturers were very informative and presented with a great passion."
  • "The sessions were thought provoking and challenging."

Reflections of BDiv Students (2019):
What were the best aspects of the BDiv programme?

  • "The comprehensive nature of the degree has given me a solid overview of the Catholic faith and strengthened me in my own spiritual development."
  • "Its rich comprehensive presentation of the Church’s teaching – learning scripture, tradition, magisterial teaching, along with the tools and skills needed for a sound transmission of the Faith – the course has been an invaluable opportunity to truly learn what the Church teaches!"
  • "Contact with lecturers whom you would not normally meet and getting their views on various aspects of theology."
  • "The way, order, methodology of the module coursebooks and order of learning. The synthesis of learning really worked."
  • "Meeting other students who provide support."
  • "Lecturers' input and course materials."
  • "The excellent hospitality and peace."
  • "Time for prayer together and social time."
  • "I feel truly welcomed by all (parts of the Maryvale family)."

How will you use your Degree in the future?

  • "My priest would like me to help with baptism by speaking with families and for funerals."
  • "Music ministry and liturgy combination, possibly chaplaincy, youth ministry and Church events."
  • "I would like, in the future, to do a Masters in Marriage and Family, and work within the diocese along the lines of marriage guidance."
  • "To enable me to proclaim the gospel and explain Church teaching in light of scripture and tradition in an engaging and accessible manner for our young people (youth work)."
  • "Pastorally, sacramentally and personally."
  • "Diaconal ministry."
  • "In a pastoral ministry."
  • "Not only will I use the degree for whatever ministry the Lord calls me too – but for my life as a whole – how I understand the world etc and also the benefits of the degree for my personal relationship with the Lord. Having the core teachings, the foundational truths of the Faith and skills for its transmission engrained in my heart and mind!"

Can you sum up your BDiv and Maryvale experience in a few words?

  • "Overall, the degree programme has been a gift. From a young age, I have been eager to know what the Church teaches in all its richness and to be able to defend the Faith. Every single module/essay (even the tough ones!) has not only enriched my knowledge and understanding but has contributed to my personal and spiritual growth beyond words. It has been an experience of God’s Love that has also given me friends for life – who made the journey fun and enjoyable!"
  • "A solid foundation of learning and teaching that formed a thorough understanding of Church teaching and provided assistance in my day to day faith and work."
  • "It has been pleasurable and greatly informative and has given me the tools to transmit the faith in a holistic manner. The course has also enriched my own faith development."
  • "It has been an integral formation, in that all the knowledge on the faith informs all areas of my life: my spiritual life, my human relationships, my work and my pastoral ministry."
  • "This has been a fantastic journey and I have deepened my Faith beyond my expectation. Studying with Maryvale has given me confidence and the tools to faithfully echo the teachings of the Church and the experience."
  • "Support from other students is extremely valuable and the tutors' guidance is excellent."
  • "A wonderful experience."
  • "The experience provided is very good."

"This has been a fantastic journey and I have deepened my Faith beyond my expectation. Studying with Maryvale has given me confidence and the tools to faithfully echo the teachings of the Church and the experience. Spread the word....."

BDiv Student - May 2018
© Maryvale Institute 2018 - Maryvale Institute is part of the Birmingham Diocesan Trust, Reg'd Charity No. 234216