From its inauguration the Doctor of Theology (ThD) has been used as the ACT’s premier research degree for graduates who are already engaged in the ministerial profession as aspiring teachers in universities and theological colleges in Australia and overseas. The degree is designed to equip men and women as beginning researchers in the traditional fields of theology and provide a qualification recognised by theological and Bible colleges as well as universities for those who teach in these fields.
The ThD is awarded on the basis of the satisfactory completion of a thesis, though it is also possible that the degree might be awarded on the basis of work(s) published during candidature. The thesis, or portfolio of published works, must constitute a distinct contribution to theological learning and must 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.
1. Academic Qualifications
Candidates must either be a graduate of one of the following awards of the ACT or its equivalent as determined by the Research and Research Studies Committee of the ACT.
- Bachelor of Theology (Honours) with First Class or 2A Honours.
- Bachelor of Ministry (Honours) with First Class or 2A Honours.
- Master of Theology (Research).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
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.
The minimum time for candidature in the Doctor of Theology 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.
The ThD 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.
All candidates must initially apply through a supervising college approved to prepare candidates for the ThD degree using the required ACT form.
Applicants that have the required ACT educational qualifications may be offered candidature in the degree by a supervising college, but all candidature is granted by the Research and Research Studies Committee.
All applicants with non-ACT qualifications must submit original or certified copies of transcripts or certificates of all tertiary study completed in theology or ministry to the Research and Research Studies Committee, which will determine granting candidature.
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 will be supervised at an affiliated college of the ACT approved to prepare candidates for the ThD.
Supervisors must be registered as a principal supervisor on the ACT Register of Supervisors.
Candidates and their supervisors must complete and submit the Higher Degree by Research Annual Progress Report to the Postgraduate Candidate Officer 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 Theology.
The candidates must be aware of the prescribed word limit for ThD 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.
The candidate 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 the Doctor of Theology 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 ThD candidature.
Eligibility and conditions for transfer from the Master of Theology degree to the doctoral degrees, for candidates who started after February 2015, will be assessed at the time of approval of their provisional MTh candidature, according to the HDR Admission Criteria approved by the R&RSC February 2015.
Candidates who transferred from MTh to ThD must complete all confirmation of candidature requirements for the ThD within the first 12 months (or part-time equivalent) of candidature.
Once a candidate has transferred he or she shall not lodge their ThD 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.
Graduates of the Doctor of Theology will be able to:
1. Demonstrate substantial expert knowledge at the frontier in an area of the traditional fields of Theology
2. Evaluate the various research principles and methodologies in an area of the traditional fields of Theology
3. Assess the received body of knowledge in an area of the traditional fields of Theology 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 an area of the traditional fields of Theology
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 in the traditional fields of Theology.