PhD and PhD Missiology

Cliff College is an approved partner of The University of Manchester, delivering programmes developed by Cliff College, approved by and leading to an award from The University of Manchester.

PhD research students outside

Cliff College offers a standard PhD and a PhD Missiology, which is a professional doctorate. Both programmes are validated by The University of Manchester and are suitable for students living in the UK or overseas.

Our faculty supervisors’ interests include:

  • Wesleyan and Methodist studies
  • women, gender and the Bible
  • missionary ecclesiology
  • the theology of preaching
  • the theology of the atonement

We are also able to work with external supervisors if your field of study requires this.

Cliff College's PhD programme combines in-depth, high-level research and study with a supportive and encouraging research community of staff and students. Students will produce an 80,000-word thesis on their chosen subject.

The PhD can be taken full-time over three years or part-time over six years and is suitable for UK-based and overseas students. Our current research projects include:

  • An exploration of Christian faith development in the lives of children living in a multi-media world.
  • Missional Ecclesiology – An exploration into the effectiveness of the UK Methodist Circuit System for supporting and delivering Church growth at a local level.
  • Toward an Ethic of Worship in a Technological Age: A comparative study of the works of Jacques Ellul and Wendell Berry and their theological implications for Christian worship in a western evangelical context.

Cliff College's PhD Missiology programme is a professional doctorate, meaning it has been designed primarily for practitioners in mission or ministry who wish to enhance their effectiveness by doctoral-level reflection on their practice. It is also designed to facilitate research by those who, while not in employment related to mission, have substantial ongoing experience of mission or ministry.

The professional doctorate includes a taught, or directed, study element. This will include the teaching of research methods and components related to broadening or deepening the student’s understanding of the disciplines in which they are researching, or providing them with appropriate transferrable skills.

The PhD Missiology combines in-depth, high-level research and study with a supportive and encouraging research community of staff and students.

Programme Structure

Years 1-3: attend two five-day teaching blocks each year; produce a portfolio (35-40,000 words) including a literature review, methodology and publishable article, and a research project proposal.

Years 4–6: work with a supervisor to produce a 40-45,000 word thesis (or a practical outcome accompanied by a 20-45,000 word thesis) and attend three day conferences per year.

The PhD Missiology is taken part time over six years and is suitable for UK-based and overseas students. Our current research projects include:

  • a comparative study of the effects of moral orientation on conversion
  • transference of leadership in international Christian organizations
  • house churches in post-communist countries
  • reconstructing a theology of incarnational mission for Haiti – a self-made black independent nation emerging from perpetual aid dependency: a Methodist perspective.
  • developing new ways for churches to become more welcoming and hospitable towards groups of people with disabilities (particularly learning disabilities and mental health) by linking more effectively with professional associations.
Emily Ralph Servant

I knew I wanted a programme that would allow me to contribute back into the life of the Church. Cliff’s PhD Missiology appealed to me because it was academically challenging, but was also based on and fed into missional practice. I was able to continue living in the US while studying, and spending some time in Derbyshire was quite attractive too!

Emily Ralph Servant

The PhD Missiology has not only enhanced my academic development, but it has positively impacted me as a person and my ministry. Studying part-time has meant that I have been able to combine my research with the practicalities of running a community church. I have appreciated the twice-yearly residentials at Cliff College where you can spend quality time with supportive lecturers, supervisors, and a cohort of other PhD researchers.

Judith Woodall

Entry Requirements

In order to be considered for entry to our standard PhD programme, candidates must:

  • possess a Bachelor's (Honours) degree at 2:1 level or above (or its international equivalent) in a related subject
  • possess UK Master’s degree with an overall average of 65% or higher, with a minimum of 65% in the dissertation and with no mark below 55% (or its international equivalent) in Religions and Theology or a related subject.

Any strong, relevant work experience will be considered on a case by case basis.

Candidates should also have considered, and be committed to, the demands of a doctoral research degree programme, whether full time or part time. These demands include the time required to dedicate oneself to the required standard of research and the financial commitment to completing the programme of study.

English language requirements for international students

For full details around English language requirements for visa purposes, please see English language requirements here. For this course, international students will need to achieve:

  • IELTS 7.0 overall, with a minimum score for each element of 7.0; or
  • PTE Academic UKVI 76 overall, with no one element below 76; or
  • LanguageCert SELT C1 33 overall, with no one element below 33.

This must have been achieved no longer than two years before the date of enrolment on the course.

Employment opportunities

Students with a PhD or PhD Missiology have a range of options following the completion of their studies, including lecturing and teaching within universities and theological colleges; high-level leadership with church denominations and networks; and post-doctoral research opportunities.

Tuition Fees

5 E6 A5557

If you are ready to apply, you can download the application documents below – they should be returned to or to

Admissions Office
Cliff College,
Hope Valley,
S32 3XG

If you have any questions about the course or the application process, get in touch with us at

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