Doctor of Philosophy

Course CodePhD
Course TypePostgraduate Degree (research)
DurationMinimum 3 years (Full Time), or up to 6 years (Part Time)
Credit Points96

Introduction

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is designed for candidates who have a prior degree in theology or in a field other than theology.

The degree is designed to allow candidates whose academic background is in fields other than traditionally related to theology to pursue research in their primary field of research and integrate their research with knowledge from various Christian traditional theological disciplines.

This PhD is a research doctorate equivalent to an Australian University PhD. It is awarded on the basis of the satisfactory completion of a thesis. The thesis must make an original contribution to the relevant field of knowledge, integrating Christian theological perspectives and show evidence of original research and the exercise of independent critical analysis. Although a candidate works under a supervisor, the candidate is expected to demonstrate independence of thought.

The award of the degree may be taken to certify that a candidate has been trained in the techniques relevant to the field of research, and is capable, without supervision, of applying these techniques to other research projects, and has become sufficiently familiar with a significant area of discipline within which the candidate has worked to be able to assess critically the present state of knowledge in the subject and to conceive original possibilities for further investigation with an increasing independence.

Entry Requirements

1. Academic Qualifications

Candidates must either be a graduate of one of the following awards of the ACT or possess a qualification which, in the opinion of the Research and Research Studies Committee, is of equivalent research degree status.

Candidates proposing to complete a research thesis in unit fields LA, OT, NT and TH must meet the same Biblical Languages qualifications as required of those applying for admission to the Doctor of Theology:

    • Bachelor of Theology (Honours) with First Class or 2A Honours.
    • OR

    • Bachlor of Ministry (Honours) with First Class or 2A Honours.
    • OR

    • Master of Theology (Research).
    • OR

    • Master of Arts (Theology) including a Distinction in a minimum 8cps research project and a 3.0 GPA overall, and completed 8cp in Biblical Languages and 8cps in Biblical Language Exegesis at undergraduate level, if seeking to complete a thesis in the unit fields LA, OT, NT and TH. Those candidates who do not meet the minimum biblical languages requirement and are seeking to undertake research in the unit fields CH, PE, EM, PC and DM will need to demonstrate to the Research and Research Studies Committee that the biblical language requirements are not required.
    • OR

    • Master of Arts (Ministry) with a Distinction in a minimum 8cps research project and a 3.0 GPA overall, and completed 8cp in Biblical Languages and 8cps in Biblical Language Exegesis at undergraduate level, if seeking to complete a thesis in the unit fields LA, OT, NT and TH. Those candidates who do not meet the minimum biblical languages requirement and are seeking to undertake research in the unit fields CH, PE, EM, PC and DM will need to demonstrate to the Research and Research Studies Committee that the biblical language requirements are not required.
    • OR

    • Master of Divinity with an overall GPA of at least 3.0, including a Distinction in a minimum 8cps MA level project (**750 or **790)
    • OR

    • Any other qualification deemed equivalent in level and standing to the above qualifications from the field of theology or another field of study.

2. Language Qualifications for Non-English Speaking Background Applicants

All applicants must demonstrate English language skills appropriate to this level of study. Candidates will either have satisfactorily completed a qualification solely in English at an approved tertiary institution OR have been resident in Australia with English spoken at home and work for at least 10 years OR have achieved a minimum overall band score of 7.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), with a minimum of 7.5 in reading and writing, 7.0 in listening and 6.5 in speaking.

Course Structure

The minimum time for candidature in the Doctor of Philosophy is three years. The maximum time for candidature is six years. Candidates may study full-time or part-time. Full time students will normally take 16 credit points per semester.

Credit points refer to the overall student effort including contact hours and time on assessment tasks. The degree requires the satisfactory completion of 96 credit points.

Higher Degree Research candidates may not be granted more than two (2) semesters of suspension of candidature during the term of their candidature, and may be granted no more than two semesters of extension of candidature prior to the examination phase of their candidature. The R&RSC will accept applications for suspension beyond the two semester limit on a case by case basis only for extraordinary circumstances, supported with written evidence.

Research Thesis

The PhD research thesis must be between 80,000 – 90,000 words in length and adhere to the following rules:

  • The thesis must embody the results of independent scholarship and research. It may be either a critical and analytical study of existing material or, as is more usual, an original contribution to the subject. In either case it must show evidence of originality and independence of thought, posing a new insight into the topic or formulating an existing issue in a novel and useful way.
  • Theses can be ±10% with no more than 100,000 in total (everything between the covers submitted to the examiner including appendices, excursuses, bibliography, footnotes, and title page)
  • The candidate must demonstrate that he or she is aware of, understands, and is able to read and analyse the literature — including primary source and scholarly material in languages other than English—that is directly relevant to the topic as well as related areas of significance, and is able to make considered judgments
  • The thesis must be a work of appropriate literary standard. While assessing what constitutes a “distinct contribution to theological learning” is no easy matter, one way of gauging whether a candidate’s work meets the criterion is to consider the extent to which the thesis is publishable. Criteria that will help decide whether a thesis is publishable are:
      • there is emerging and/or growing interest in the subject area of the thesis such that the thesis, if published, would complement what has been published already, or, the thesis makes a radically new contribution to the subject area;

      • the thesis is well-written, its ideas are accessible, and it would lend itself to easy conversion to published format;

      • there are well-known, international scholars who could be advocates for the published version of the thesis.

Course Rules

All candidates initially have provisional status. Candidates must satisfactorily complete all Confirmation of Candidature requirements by the end of their first full time year (or part time equivalent) of candidature to progress to full candidate status.

Candidates and their supervisors must complete and submit the Higher Degree by Research Annual Progress Report to the Research Student Administrator of the ACT via the postgraduate coordinator in the candidate’s supervising college by the due date. Where unsatisfactory progress is reported the Research and Research Studies Committee may require the candidate to ‘show cause’ why candidature should not be terminated.

It is the candidate’s responsibility to be aware of and fully comply with all rules and regulations related to the Doctor of Philosophy.

The candidates must be aware of the prescribed word limit for PhD theses. Theses must be at least 80,000 and no more than 100,000 words in length. See Guidelines for Theses in the ACT Higher Degree by Research Handbook.

Candidates should expect to submit to the supervisor coherent accounts of the research to date according to an agreed schedule.

Personal contact is preferable to merely submitting work by mail, especially if candidate and supervisor are situated in the same state of Australia. At least three annual face-to-face meetings per year are recommended. Supervisors are to submit an Annual Progress Report to the candidate’s supervising college which will forward the report to the Associate Dean of the ACT. If a candidate’s progress is considered to be unsatisfactory the Research and Research Studies Committee will advise the candidate and their supervisor their status is under review. Where a second unsatisfactory report is received the Research and Research Studies Committee may require the candidate to ‘show cause’ why their candidature should not be terminated.

Candidates should accept responsibility for maintaining negotiated regular communication with the supervisor and the progress of research agreed upon. If impediments arise, these should be immediately discussed with the supervisor.

Under exceptional circumstances, the Research and Research Studies Committee may vary the period of candidature.

For candidates who started the Master of Theology degree before February 2015 and transfer from the Master of Theology to a doctoral degree the time enrolled in the research component, but not the time spent enrolled in any coursework units of study, of the MTh will be deducted from the time allowed for the doctoral candidature.

For candidates admitted to the Master of Theology degree from February 2015, conditions apply as to the eligibility to apply for transfer to doctoral awards, and for those who are transferred to a doctoral award there are variations regarding reduction of time in the doctoral program. Candidates who are eligible to apply for leave to transfer to a doctoral award will be informed of the conditions in their letter of offer and acceptance at the time of admission to the Master of Theology programs.

Candidates who transferred from MTh to PhD must complete all confirmation of candidature requirements for the PhD within the first 12 months (or part-time equivalent) of candidature.

Once a candidate has transferred he or she shall not lodge their PhD thesis within (i) a minimum of 12 months full time equivalent from the date of transfer, and (ii) a minimum of 2 years full time equivalent from the original date of enrolment in the MTh.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Doctor of Philosophy will be able to:

    1. Demonstrate substantial expert knowledge at the frontier of a field of learning in Theology, Ministry or Christian Studies

    2. Evaluate the various research principles and methodologies of the field of learning

    3. Assess the received body of knowledge in the field of learning with a view to identifying areas that require further research

    4. Formulate problems and questions, assemble data and literature, construct a theoretical and methodological framework, develop coherent evidence-based perspectives as the basis of independent expert inquiry

    5. Design and execute an independent investigation leading to an original and significant contribution to knowledge in the field of learning

    6. Demonstrate understanding of and compliance with ethical matters related to human participant research

    7. Present theoretical bases, methodologies and results of research to, and engage with, non-specialists, peers and the scholarly community

    8. Present research in writing suitable for publication, including a thesis of 80,000-100,000 words or portfolio of published work

    9. As a leader and in groups, apply expert authoritative knowledge and understanding to ministry contexts and the wider community

    10. Bring authoritative expert professional capacity to engagement with the challenges of contemporary Christianity, society and the wider world

    11. Demonstrate capacity independently and collaboratively to generate new knowledge and understanding by original research

Where can this degree take me?

The PhD will equip men and women as beginning researchers in a broad range of fields of study related to the humanities and social sciences and provide a qualification recognised by theological and Bible colleges as well as universities for those who teach in these fields.