Practical Theology

Practical Theology at the University of Aberdeen has developed a unique perspective which brings together practical theology and combines it creatively with moral theology and Christian social ethics in a way that is academically rigorous and practically transformative. We believe that theology should make a difference to church, society and the academy.

Our discipline therefore begins and ends with inquiries focused on practices. The ground for this focus on practise is an understanding of faith as a lived entity. Our task is to think through faith not as ‘mere belief’ but as lived, purposeful and transformative. Thus the primary reference of our theologising is the lived life in all its contemporary forms. This contrasts with biblical studies' focus on texts, systematics' focus on doctrines, church history's focus on the history of the community of faith, but relies on these forms of inquiry in understanding what it means for faith to be lived.

Studying Practical Theology at the University of Aberdeen is therefore creatively and rigorously interdisciplinary and deeply theological. All postgraduate students in Practical Theology are members of a flourishing research community which provides an opportunity for students to interact with one another and with highly regarded scholars from across the theological disciplines.

Supervision is offered in all areas of Practical Theology.

Ministry Studies

Supervisors: John Swinton and Christopher Brittain

This subject focuses on Ministry Studies, Anglican theological studies, as well as chaplaincy related areas.


Supervisors: John Swinton and Christopher Brittain

Supervision is offered in subjects ranging from theology and disaster studies, religion after ground zero, practical theodicy, the pastoral implications of theodicy and lament, to theology and post traumatic growth.

Christian Mission

Supervisors: John Swinton and Christopher Brittain

This subject area looks at the relationship between the church and contemporary culture/society, the nature of discipleship in a changing world, the theology and practice of new churches, contemporary models of evangelism, the role of worship as a political and social force, and the difference that doctrine makes for living in a changing post-modern cultural context.

Qualitative Research

Supervisors: John Swinton and Christopher Brittain

Supervision offered in congregational studies, ecclesiology and ethnography, practical theology and qualitative research methods, and methodological issues in practical theology.

Christian Ethics

Supervisors: Christopher Brittain and Brian Brock

Focus is on technological development, scripture in Christian ethics, modern German theological ethics, Christian social ethics, religion, church and complex ethical issues.

Political Theology

Supervisors: Christopher Brittain and Brian Brock

Subjects covered are secularism and political theology, the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, globalisation and political terrorism, religion as a social and political phenomenon, and the impact of political life on the internal dynamics of Christian communities.

Disability Theology

Supervisors: John Swinton, Brian Brock and Michael Mawson

This subject area focused on disability in the Christian tradition, theological anthropology and disability, mental health and illness, theology and dementia, and the theology of cognitive and intellectual disabilities. 

Pastoral Issues

Supervisor: John Swinton

Supervision offered under the general subjects of pastoral care and counselling, ministry with marginalised people, spirituality and mental health, spirituality in nursing, medicine and healthcare, death and dying, Christian healing, spirituality and healthcare, and spirituality and cancer.

Overview of the PhD