Study With Us - Research Studies

Pursue a research degree at MPhil or PhD level in Catholic Studies...

Research Degrees (MPhil & PhD) in Catholic Studies

Recruitment is currently closed for this programme.

PhD & MPhil in Catholic Studies

The Institute's Research Degree in Catholic Studies (MPhil and PhD) is offered through Liverpool Hope University and offers supervision in programmes of research in the area of Catholic Studies, including history, literature, philosophy, spirituality, theology, Newman studies and religious education and catechesis. It is a part-time, distance-learning programme.

Liverpool Hope University

To discover more about the research activities of both staff and students at Maryvale, visit our Research Centre for Catholic Studies area, where you can read the latest Research Bulletin and also register to gain free and exclusive access to lecture recordings and other resources.

Who is the programme aimed at?

This programme is specifically for students who wish to continue to MPhil or PhD research degrees by establishing critical and research skills. The research programme aims to train postgraduate students to specialise in their proposed project area at MPhil or PhD level.

What are the entry requirements?

The requirement for entry to the PhD programme is a Distinction at Masters level. For the MPhil, the requirement is a Merit at Masters level. For overseas students Grade equivalents to this standard will be accepted.

How long is the programme?

2-4 years for an MPhil and 4-6 years for a PhD.

Aims of the Programme:

The Programme aims to provide the highest level of training by thesis to MPhil or PhD for candidates who wish to study in the human sciences branch of theology and/or religious education in order to strengthen the teaching and research capacity both nationally and globally.

Structure and content

Those accepted for a research degree devote at least twelve hours each week to study from home. The researcher will have the guidance of two scholars, knowledgeable in the chosen field of research and with experience of research supervision. Students must attend an annual residential school of about 14 days which includes a short period at Liverpool Hope University.** This takes place in June each year.

**In response to restrictions imposed and uncertainties raised by Covid-19, Maryvale Institute is currently conducting all residentials and study days online. The situation will be monitored and reviewed regularly for course delivery in the future.**


Students are required to produce a thesis of required length (max 100,000 words for PhD or 60,000 words for an MPhil) which is examined and assessed through a viva voce oral examination.


This programme leads to the Liverpool Hope University degrees of Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy, which will be awarded after the examining scholars have been assured that students have an appropriate level of knowledge in the field and are thoroughly competent in the work of independent research. Please see the Information Pack for further details of the academic standards required for these awards.

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.

How do I apply?

While we are unable to enrol new students at the moment, as HE provision is being phased out within the Archdiocese of Birmingham, the institute is currently in discussion with another institution to find a new academic home. In the meantime, we remain open to course enquiries and are happy to take declarations of interest from potential students. If you wish to register your interest, please get in touch with us through the contact button below and the Programme Director will reply to you.


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:

To make an enquiry to the Research Administrator, click on the Course Contact Form button below:

Student Feedback:

Reflections from the 2021 Research Study Fortnight

  • “The virtual classes settings and IT support were excellent. There is nothing that I can add to the high professionality that was demonstrated.”
  • “The Conference [Exploring the New Directory for Catechesis] was a useful addition to our programme, and enabled us to take part in a conference. Being able to make a presentation was particularly useful as this now counts towards my VITAE skills record.”/li>
  • “The masterclasses, conference and student presentations were very much of high standard. During these sessions I received significant formation and essential information for my ongoing study.”
  • “The Masterclasses, student presentations and conference were outstanding in quality and depth. I am very grateful for the conference especially, which has been a real highlight for me. It was also fantastic to listen to other students and see how much was achieved during the year, and how we have all progressed.”

MPhil & PhD in Catholic Studies Students

Reflections from the 2020 Research Study Fortnight

  • “Given the circumstances this year regarding the pandemic, Maryvale has done an excellent job regarding virtual classroom settings. Everything ran like clockwork.”
  • “The series of lectures were wonderful. The subject matter selected for the lectures was very interesting and I really appreciated that it spanned several academic fields. The first 3-4 presentation on the study skills, etc. were much more valuable than I anticipated. Coming from the US system, I was very impressed by the collegiality of entire experience.”
  • “Very well organised and executed. All went according to the timetable, it was predictable and reliable. It was the right balance achieved between in-depth academic work during all afternoons and Q&A. Although all the Chairs and Lecturers had their own style of leadership and presentation, their delivery complemented each other, they all stick to the timetable and allowed enough time for Q&A. Especially I enjoyed an academic forum during students’ presentations. Q&A after each of a presentation gave me a lot of food for thought about my own research direction.”
  • “The programme was very helpful, particularly those sessions on study skills. The information about how to prepare for each stage of the PhD process was clear. The master classes were informative, and enhanced background study on the area of Roman Catholic theology.”
  • “The Zoom session with the librarians was helpful, and enabled us to understand how to navigate our way around online library resources. This has made me more confident about accessing articles and other resources made available to us during the Covid 19 pandemic.”
  • “Excellent on the whole as far as IT was concerned. Well done for making it all happen so seamlessly and accessibly. ... [The online format] still made possible a sense of community, and enabled us to communicate with and begin to know each other without too much difficulty.”
  • “[Attending all student presentations] proved to be extremely beneficial for everyone who chose to do this: the newer students were deeply encouraged by listening to the older students, and the older students were fascinated by and supportive to the younger ones.”
  • “While the opportunity for social networking was limited because of the pandemic, the use of Nightly Prayers, together with the option of a social chat afterwards was very valuable.”
  • “The Evening Prayer and social networking time with other students was very well-organised. Special thanks to [the Student Rep] for the many, many ways thoughtful ways in which she has guided, supported, and lovingly shepherded us together during these two weeks.”

MPhil & PhD in Catholic Studies Students

Reflections from the 2019 Research Study Residential

  • "Everything at Maryvale is awesome – IT support great, [the Bridgettine] Sisters are wonderful, food allergy accommodation much appreciated, et cetera."
  • "All excellent, as usual. Library support in both universities was excellent and very helpful."
  • "Special thanks to the warden, and the Student Representative system, which together function so well to create opportunities for students to come together. The evening prayer to close the day is also much appreciated. And it is fantastic that staff make the effort to share and participate, and are so supportive."
  • "Maryvale is known for the friendly environment it provides, and students look forward to coming every year. Social networking, camaraderie, prayerful ambience, etc. are always a highlight."

MPhil & PhD in Catholic Studies Students - 2019

"The experience I had during my Maryvale years, of learning so many things and especially how to research, has been an indispensable foundation in order to become part of a community of professors and help teach and form our seminarians … I am very grateful for everything I learned, and the friendships formed at Maryvale."

PhD in Catholic Studies Graduate - 2018

" Completing the research programme has allowed me to become a full-time faculty member for the Franciscan University of Steubenville… I believe that the research programme at Maryvale and, in particular, the expertise and leadership of Sr. Mary Mills, has allowed me to provide well thought-out criticism and guidance to the students I serve. Mary’s critique of my work was so good that it has left, similar to the Sacrament of Holy Orders, a sort of inedible mark on me! Obtaining the doctoral degree has also helped me to gain vital credibility in growing the Institute of Catholic Theology, of which I am the director. In addition to a variety of continuing education offerings, the Institute offers local, in-person support for online graduate students in theology and catechetics in the Franciscan University online programs. I am truly appreciative for all that the Maryvale Institute has given me."

PhD in Catholic Studies Graduate - 2018

"From the beginning, I felt encouraged to step out and go beyond my own comfort zone in pursuit of a research topic I wanted to explore. I always felt that those advising me were trying to help me express what I wanted to do, not what they thought I should do. At the same time, if my ideas were untenable they said so and why. I also found that the accommodation at Maryvale was marvellous for me with my disabilities."

PhD in Catholic Studies Graduate - 2018
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