Fresh Approaches and Integration of Academic and Practical Elements Praised
A recent external review of the Master in Theology programme delivered by the Church of Ireland Theological Institute (CITI) and Trinity College Dublin has found it to be ‘a successful partnership’ which is delivering on the aims and objectives of the MTh, with the reviewers offering ‘strong approval and commendation of what is being achieved each year’. In particular, Dr Clare Amos (World Council of Churches) and Professor David Fergusson (University of Edinburgh) commended ‘high academic quality attested by dissertation and degree results’; clear provision of ‘integrated learning and formation’; evident pastoral support and the development of a ‘broad range of subject-specific and transferable skills’.
The review found that the facilities – including the Library, IT, accommodation and catering – are of a high standard, with a strongly committed support staff. Moreover, the commitment, input and quality of the academic staff was found to be ‘of the highest standard’. Student participation, achievement and satisfaction rates are ‘high’, ‘particularly by comparison with the previous BTh degree’, with students becoming ‘equipped both academically and professionally to a higher standard than was the case prior to 2008’. The evolution of the MTh since 2008 to include ‘creative use of the ministry portfolio to allow for assessment of practical elements of the course’ as well as ‘fresh approaches to teaching methods’ were applauded.
Strikingly, the review praised the combination of professional training and academic education offered by CITI and Trinity as a model which ‘compares favourably with best practice in the sector’, noting that ‘this partnership of church and academy appears to be one of the more successful by comparison with other forms of ministerial training in the UK and Europe’.
The reviewers also made a number of constructive recommendations. These included a restructuring which could allow part-time students to complete the course in four years rather than six, and provision of further teaching in Biblical Studies as well as an additional course in Doctrine. The full text of the report is available online at www.tcd.ie/teaching-learning/quality/reviewers_reports_5.php
In response to the publication of the review, the Director of CITI, Canon Dr Maurice Elliott, said: ‘CITI is delighted to have received such a significant and constructive endorsement of the MTh programme. Since the inception of the course much energy has been invested by a great number of staff, students and those with responsibility for governance over many years to ensure that it adheres to a standard of excellence across its many facets. This report, comprehensively assessed and externally validated, represents a strong seal of approval on all of that endeavour. Its conclusions are deeply encouraging for the whole Church and its recommendations for further improvement are greatly welcomed. ’
The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, commented: ‘As chairperson of the Council of CITI I welcome the report and the interaction it has enabled CITI to have in a very professional manner with the University of Dublin. I also welcome the fresh and critical input of the external reviewers. They have highlighted both the significant strides that the degree of Master of Theology has enabled us to make in the training offered to clergy in the Church of Ireland and future directions and pathways we might undertake. Warm and appropriate mention has been made of the staff of CITI. The report is overwhelmingly positive and greatly to be welcomed.’