Study With Us - Research Studies

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

Research Degrees (MPhil & PhD) in Catholic Studies

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.

When is the next enrolment?

We are currently unable to accept any more applicants to the PhD programme.

If you're interested in the programme, we are still welcoming enquiries and can keep you informed about when applications will reopen. We can also offer you access to our Research Centre resources, so that you can get a taste of study at Maryvale in the meantime.

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 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. The requirements of Liverpool Hope University may differ and students will be informed of these as they become available.**


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?

We are currently unable to accept any more applicants to the PhD programme. Please contact the administrator if you would like to know more about the current programme.


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 June 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 - June 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 - February 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 - February 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 - February 2018
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