Study With Us - Postgraduate Studies

Five Specialisms in Master of Arts - Catholic Applied Theology

The Master of Arts in Catholic Applied Theology

The MA in Catholic Applied Theology is a 30-month, distance-learning programme, with short residential schools, successful completion of which leads to the award of the degree of Master of Arts from The Open University.

The Open University

Who is the Programme aimed at?

This programme is suitable for professional workers in pastoral ministries, those involved in the fields of religious education, catechesis and leadership in schools, and, indeed, anyone wishing to deepen their knowledge of various aspects of Catholic Theology, Ethics and Spirituality

What are the entry requirements?

The programme is open to candidates with an honours degree (2:2, or above), or an equivalent professional qualification. The Institute welcomes students whether or not they are from the Catholic community.

How long is the programme?

This MA is a 30-month, part time, distance-learning programme.

When is the next enrolment?

The programme enrols new students each January.

Aims of the Programme

The Programme aims to:
  • Enable students to engage in an informed, systematic and critical manner with Catholic theology, philosophy and the human sciences.
  • Equip students to exercise responsibility and independence in their studies and research and to be able to apply the fruits of these critically and creatively.


In the first 12 months, students study four modules consecutively, working from home following specially designed course books and associated reading. Each of the four modules require at least 15 hours per week of coursework and study time spread over approximately 10 weeks i.e. 150 hours in all. They also complete a research methods assignment.

In the second year of the programme, three further modules are studied and a dissertation proposal produced. Each of these four items requires at least 15 hours per week of coursework and study time spread over approximately 10 weeks i.e. 150 hours in all.

The final 6 months of the course focus on the writing of a dissertation.

It is possible, within the structure of the MA Programme, to terminate with the award of a Postgraduate Certificate (after Year 1) or Postgraduate Diploma (after Year 2).


These residentials are an integral part of the academic and pastoral support offered on Maryvale programmes. To be eligible for any awards associated with a programme, students must attend these residentials.

Optional Study Weeks:

Each year there is the opportunity to participate in an additional study week, usually mid-March, for private study and use of the library, as well as the opportunity to discuss your work with a tutor. For details on the accommodation charges for these weeks, please see the Accommodation Fees page here, as these are not included in the yearly Programme fees.


The programme has 5 pathways or areas of specialism, each with its own particular content. Please see “Specialisms on the MA in Catholic Applied Theology” below for more details.


Students are required to write an assignment for each of the four modules studied in the first year. The four module assignments each constitute 25% of the year’s total.

During the second year, students are required to write an assignment for each of the three modules studied that year. The three module assignments and the dissertation proposal produced each constitute 25% of the year’s total.

Between January and June of the final year each student writes and submits a 20,000 word dissertation. The dissertation counts for one third of the total mark for the MA degree, the other two thirds coming from Years One and Two.


This programme leads to The Open University award of Master of Arts (OU).

For more on the MA in Catholic Applied Theology's validation by The Open University, click here.

How do I apply?

A non-returnable application fee of £50 is required when making application for this course. Details of course fees can be found here, where you will also find a link to the Institute policy on the payment of fees.

Applications are welcome up to the first week of January.


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:

Specialisms on the MA in Catholic Applied Theology:

Students can choose one of five distinct different specialisms, or ‘pathways’, offered on the MA programme. Click the links for more information on each.


This pathway is for anyone wishing to deepen their understanding of the rational foundations of the Catholic worldview in order to be able to engage effectively with the intellectual challenges posed by the secular culture of our time. It is of particular relevance to all involved in preaching and teaching the faith in schools, colleges and parishes.
More information ...

Faith and Culture

This pathway is suitable for professional workers in pastoral ministries, in, for example, schools, colleges, social work and health. Because of its emphasis on the Christian vision of the human person and the implications of this vision for personal development, behaviour, family, civic and social life and engagement with culture, this pathway is of particular relevance to educators with specific responsibilities for Citizenship within the curriculum.
More information ...

Marriage and Family

This programme teaches the beauty of the Catholic vision for marriage and family life and is informed by the teaching of Blessed John Paul II and is suitable for those preparing for or living the vocation to marriage and family. It will also be of interest to people involved in marriage preparation, pastoral care of the family, counselling as well as those involved in education, pro-life work, law, medicine and government and public policy.
More information ...

Religious Education and Catechesis

This programme is particularly suitable for those in the teaching professions: existing teachers of RE value the opportunity of improving their theological and professional expertise, while qualified teachers in other disciplines can specialise in R.E. in Catholic schools. The degree is also for catechists, parents, clergy and religious.
More information ...


This programme is for anyone wishing to deepen their understanding of the principles of Catholic spirituality in order to apply these in their life and work. It is of particular relevance to those in pastoral ministries (clergy, catechists, youth workers, chaplaincy teams and religious), as well as those in the teaching professions, who value the opportunity of improving their theological and professional expertise in the foundational area of spirituality.
More information ...

Student Feedback:

Reflections from the September 2018 MA Year 1 Residential

  • "Enjoyed the interactive nature of the discussion. Very enjoyable weekend."
  • "Excellent lectures and peer interaction."
  • "[I] found especially positive [the] Study Skills session. Dr Tracy was superb."
  • "Lectures very good. The session with Dr Tracy Cattell was very beneficial and also the guidance on dissertation questions."
  • "A good overview of the stages of a research project: starting point & refinement; reasons for doing i.e. personal and professional; coming up with a hypothesis and the resources to serve this - helped me to realise that my (primary) sources need to have authority; how chronological approach wasn’t going to work, another approach would have to be taken - good to be reminded that methods may need rethinking. Good to hear how the definitive questions to be addressed came about.."
  • "[I] found especially positive the stimulation received; the buzz; [I was] bowled over by the expertise of lecturers - the crème de la crème surely! Sharing our stories/experiences with fellow students; meals with students and staff, the 'easygoingness', friendliness."
  • "A joy to listen to Cyril [Chilson], so knowledgeable, so immersed in the tradition he describes. Also found [Professor] John [Loughlin]’s insights and personal perspective fascinating. Both excellent speakers."
  • "Always great to listen to such knowledgeable lecturers and tutors."
  • "Great sense of community, as always."

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Students - September 2018

What were the best aspects of your programme?
"I really appreciated the residential weekends, especially meeting the other MA students, getting to know them and praying with them each morning and evening. I enjoyed doing the MA dissertation and the possibility of doing directed academic research on a theological topic of my choice."

Why did you choose Maryvale?
"I wanted to study theology in more depth in a tertiary programme in the UK, which I knew would be faithful to the Catholic Church's teaching."

How has your degree benefitted you personally/spiritually/professionally?
"I feel my faith has been enriched by being able to study for an MA in Maryvale. The degree has enabled me to link a number of practical initiatives aimed at evangelisation that I have been involved in to deeper theological roots and to gain a greater understanding of the history of inculturation."

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Graduate - February 2018

"I want to say that the learning and formation I have received has been not only inspiring and of the highest quality, but has also proved invaluable already in the pastoral work [my wife] and I are undertaking, and in contributing to the Synod process and the planning for our Diocese. I am certain we will be 100% more effective in our work as a result and am therefore grateful for the opportunity I have had. I always do and will continue to speak very highly of Maryvale and recommend you to everyone who is a potential student."

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Graduate - February 2018

" The weekend has been extremely useful. It helped me recognise the need to put stronger boundaries to my work/topic… The personal tutorials helped me see various avenues and options to explore further. The informal conversation and fellowship were invaluable in terms of support and motivation."

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Student - February 2018

" Very interesting and exciting course. Enjoyed everything – content, delivery, freedom to debate, thought-provoking. Wow!"

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Student - February 2018

" My overall experience was very positive! It was nice to meet all you folks from the college. Welcome was warm and personal. In fact, the whole process of becoming a student (beginning from initial enquiries) went very well! Personal tone in contacts, fast feedback to enquiries and sufficient amount of information in all stages of the process, made it smooth for the applicant and build a good picture about the Institute."

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Student - January 2018

"[The] whole weekend’s been positive. Warmth, hopefulness. Excellence delivered. Course subjects have been inspirational, implanting desire. Background to course – study objectives have been delivered, inspiring confidence. All rooted in prayer and praise together. Great food"

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Student - January 2018

"The very sincere and warm welcome of all staff both academic and house. It really has made a difference. The depth of faith and genuine loving service is impressive and inspiring."

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Student - January 2018

"Solid teaching given with passion. Heartwarming and inspirational. Confidence-giving."

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Student - January 2018

"Stephen laid out the whole [MA] “project” before us and the life-long journey we’re on. Gave confidence, benefit of humour, kindliness."

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Student - January 2018

"Extremely accessible style of presentation, inspiring in the way the academic is infused by faith and love."

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Student - January 2018

"The obvious care for our well-being and desire to help us succeed was very encouraging."

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Student - January 2018

"The energy and passion! Very engaging presentation, lively and thought-provoking."

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Student - January 2018

"[I liked] the manner in which essay questions were broken down to aid our response. Explanation of levels of learning."

MA in Catholic Applied Theology Student - January 2018

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