The Theological Ethics team at the University of Aberdeen cooperate closely with colleagues in the two related subject areas of Systematic and Practical Theology, as well as having a sympathetic relationship to a range of other disciplines in the wider university.

Theological Ethics in Aberdeen

Theological Ethics at the University of Aberdeen draws upon a rich tradition of Christian moral thought for understanding and engaging contemporary issues and debates. On the one hand, this involves carefully attending to core concepts such as love, freedom, justice, discipleship and sanctification, and attending to the work of major theologians in the tradition on their own terms, including such thinkers as Augustine, Luther, Hamann, Kierkegaard, Bonhoeffer and Hauerwas. On the other hand, the work of Theological Ethics entails engaging a range of contemporary debates, including issues in bioethics, social ethics, political ethics, environmental ethics, and others. 


We are interested in hearing from students wishing to undertake postgraduate level work in Theological Ethics at the doctoral level. Please contact one of the supervisors below if you are thinking about applying for a PhD in their subject area.

Dr Brian Brock: Supervision is offered in Augustine, Martin Luther, Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans Ulrich; scripture, creation, moral reasoning and tradition; and technology, theology and disability, medical ethics, environmental ethics, and ethics and economics.

Dr Michael Laffin: Supervision is offered in Augustine, Martin Luther, J.G. Hamann, Hannah Arendt, John Milbank, and Oswald Bayer; political theology, theology and political philosophy, genealogical methodology; and worship as political practice, Lutheran ethics, ethics and Christian doctrine.

In addition to the above supervisory team, the Department of Divinity is delighted to have a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Theological Ethics. The current postholder is:

Dr Robert Heimburger whose research explores ethics and politics in response to Jesus Christ. He writes about migration, on themes of church, nationhood, government, justice, and mercy in conversation with undocumented migration in United States law and migration in the United Kingdom. He also writes about forgiveness and political life through discussion with conflict survivors in Colombia about biblical parables. He is also interested in character and Christian intellectual life in the academy and in fresh readings of Scripture.

PGR Students

Some current (and graduated) students and their projects from the University of Aberdeen include:

  • Claire Hein Blanton, Between Resistance and Collaboration: Locating Ecclesial Responsibility to Government Action in the Political Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Andrew Errington, Wisdom and moral deliberation in theological ethics and the book of Proverbs
  • Caireen Likely, I Still Eat the Bread: Embodiment, Passive Receiving, and the Reimaging of Subjectivity in Old Age
  • David Lilley, Freedom, Contentment, and Joy: The Fidelity-Producing Sabbath in Karl Barth’s Doctrine of Creation

The following are some selected publications relating to Theological Ethics by staff at the University of Aberdeen:

Dr Brian Brock

Dr Robert Heimburger

  • Heimburger, RW, Hays, CM & Mejía-Castillo, G 2019, 'Forgiveness and politics: Reading Matthew 18:21–35 with survivors of armed conflict in Colombia', HTS Teologiese Studies/ Theological Studies, vol. 75, no. 4, a5245.[ONLINE] DOI: HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.4102/HTS.V75I4.5245
  • Heimburger, RW 2019, 'Immigration law: a theological response', Theology, vol. 122, no. 5, pp. 324-330.[ONLINE] DOI: HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.1177/0040571X19858943
  • Heimburger, RW 2018, God and the Illegal Alien: United States Immigration Law and a Theology of Politics. Law and Christianity, Cambridge University Press, New York and Cambridge.[ONLINE] DOI: HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.1017/9781316817131
  • Heimburger, RW 2015, 'Fear and Faith in the Kin-dom: New Explorations in the Theology of Migration', Modern Theology, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 338-344.[ONLINE] DOI: HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.1111/MOTH.12150
  • Heimburger, RW 2010, 'Raymond Cohen and Raymond Westbrook, eds, Isaiah's Vision of Peace in Biblical and Modern International Relations: Swords into Plowshares', Political Theology, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 301-303.[ONLINE] DOI: HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.1558/POTH.V11I2.301

Dr Michael Laffin

  • The Promise of Martin Luther's Political Theology: Freeing Luther from the Modern Political Narrative. T&T Clark Enquiries in Theological Ethics, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, London and New York.

Some helpful links for further information and resources in Theological Ethics include: