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Practical Christian Theology - 20 credits (RT7338)

Module Tutor: Rev Dr Peter Stevenson

Summary of course content

This module explores different approaches to practical theology, and considers a number of models of theological reflection which can be used in critical, theological reflection upon issues emerging from contemporary life and from the practice of ministry. It considers some central issues in contemporary thinking about Christian ethics and explores their relevance for thinking about pastoral care. The module examines a range of ways in which biblical materials can be used and abused within the process of theological reflection. It explores ways of handling biblical materials with critical integrity so that they can play a constructive role in practical Christian theology. Through a number of case studies the module explores the relevance of Christian theology to a variety of contemporary issues and situations.

Credits: 20

Availability of module: Every year

Prerequisites: None

Necessary for: N/A


• To enable students to relate their theological understanding to practice
• To help students develop methods of critical theological reflection
• To introduce some main ways of thinking about ethics and ethical issues as they pertain to life situations
• To encourage reflective practice in using the Bible
• To explore various models of theological reflection as resources for critical theological reflection upon aspects of church and society

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, the student will demonstrate:

• An ability to engage in critical theological reflection upon contemporary issues and experiences.
• An ability to reflect critically upon the practice of mission and pastoral care, drawing upon insights from both religious and secular understandings of society.
• Skill in selecting and using a variety of approaches to critical, theological reflection upon the outworking of the Christian faith, within and beyond the church.
• Critical awareness and competence in reading and interpreting  biblical texts in relation to issues raised by life and work.
• Awareness of some key ethical considerations and approaches which can serve as resources for reflection upon contemporary issues.
• An ability to represent their own views and those of others sensitively, with understanding, fairness and integrity.
• An ability to engage in critical theological reflection and to present the results of such reflection clearly and coherently.

Teaching methods

Lectures and student-led case studies


Two formative assessments and one summative assignment (5,000 words).

Suggested book purchases

Richard R. Osmer, Practical Theology: An Introduction (Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2008).

Suggested preparatory reading

L. Green, Let’s Do Theology: Resources for Contextual Theology (London: Mowbrays, 20092).

Primary sources

David Atkinson and David Field (ed.), New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology, ( Leicester: IVP, 1995).
Paul H. Ballard and John Pritchard, Practical theology in action: Christian thinking in the service of church and society (London: SPCK, 20062).
Paul H. Ballard and Stephen R. Holmes, The Bible in Pastoral Practice (London: DLT, 2005).
Malcolm Brown, Tensions in Christian Ethics: An Introduction (London: SPCK, 2010).
Helen Cameron, Resourcing Mission: Practical Theology for Changing Churches (London: SCM Press, 2010).
Helen Cameron, Deborah Bhatti, Catherine Duce, James Sweeney and Clare Watkins, Talking about God in Practice: Theological Action Research and Practical Theology (London, SCM Press, 2011).
Anthony Clarke & Paul Fiddes (editors), Flickering Images. Theology and Film in Dialogue (Macon, Smyth & Helwys, Oxford, Regent's Park College, 2005).
Stephen Pattison, A Critique of Pastoral Care (SCM, 20003)
Judith Thompson with Stephen Pattison and Ross Thompson, SCM Studyguide to Theological Reflection (London: SCM Press, 2008).
James Woodward & Stephen Pattison (eds.), The Blackwell Reader in Pastoral and Practical Theology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000)