Theology Summer School



A two-week residential summer school for members of the clergy, lay ministers, theologians and teachers of religious education.

The general theme this year will be Christian Theology and Human Creativity.  Seminars will explore this theme through engagement with the arts and aesthetics, but also through theological reflection on the importance of human creativity in, for example: science and technology, including AI; business and entrepreneurialism; liturgy and worship; discipleship, formation and wellbeing; as well as examining the role of creativity in the writing and reading of Scripture and in Christian theology itself. 

  • Participate in seminars taught by members of Oxford University's Theology Faculty, distinguished theologians, and prominent church leaders.
  • Attend lectures from leading scholars in the field of Theology.
  • An opportunity to study and live in Christ Church, one of Oxford University's largest and most beautiful colleges.


Applicants choose one morning seminar and one afternoon seminar per week. See Programme details for information on topics and tutors.

Morning classes run 09.00-12.00 and afternoon classes 13.30-16.30, Monday-Friday, with a mid-session break of 30 minutes for refreshments. Classes will usually contain no more than 18 students.

Weekends are left free for participants to explore Oxford.

Contact hours

The programme provides a minimum of 26.5 contact hours per week, comprising

  • 25 hours of seminar meetings (12.5 hours per seminar);
  • One 1.5 hour lecture each week, from a leading scholar in the field.


Participants are welcome to attend services at Christ Church Cathedral.

Oxford is a diverse city, rich in places of worship for people of many faiths and denominations.

Social programme

The Theology Summer School warmly invites all participants to take part in the social programme. The optional social activites, at no extra cost, include a welcome reception on the Sunday of your arrival and a formal gala dinner to close each week of the programme. An optional walking tour of Oxford will take place on Saturday, at an additional cost, with tickets going on sale later in the year.



Programme details

Applicants choose one morning seminar and one afternoon seminar per week. Seminar descriptions are also avalible as a PDF.

Week 1: 4 August - 10 August

Morning seminars (9.00am-12.00pm)

Creation and Creators, Medieval into Modern - Dr Alicia Smith

This seminar will explore Christian creativity and creators, beginning in the Middle Ages and tracing how ideas, images, and themes from that period still speak powerfully in our own modern day. We'll look at the kinds of creativity which animated the medieval Church's buildings, spirituality, worship, and teaching, and alongside that we'll look at the ways Christian (and other) creators today continue to respond to, learn from, and struggle with that period of Christian history. Our material for discussion will include medieval art, drama, architecture, poetry, liturgy, and more, and we'll engage with a variety of modern responses and replies.


Literary Creativity: Poetry and the Bible - Dr Edward Clarke

The Bible contains its own sublime poetry and has provided a major stimulus for poetry in English. On this course you will explore the poetry books of the Old Testament in relation to poems made out of them, as we look initially at versions of the Psalms composed from the sixteenth century to the present day, and then explore Blake’s engravings of the Book of Job. We will also consider the Bible in general as the single most important source text for English poetry, considering its influence on Shakespeare, Herbert, Vaughan, Milton, Hopkins, Eliot, Yeats, and Maya Angelou, among others.


Insights from Psychology into the Limits and Bounds of Human Creativity - Dr Emily Burdett

The degree to which humans engage in creativity, and the variety displayed within individuals as well as across cultures and generations, is truly astounding. We see ingenuity in art, literature, technology, bodily ornamentation, science, problem-solving and even in how we worship and engage with God. In this seminar we will explore various dimensions of what creativity is. We will engage with recent scientific discoveries on how creativity develops within us, in societies, and across generations. We will also discuss differences in creative processes in humans, other species, AI and in God. In addition, there will be time to explore evidence-based ways to nurture creativity as well as to engage and reflect on the practice of being creative from a theological and psychological perspective.


Afternoon seminars (1.30pm-4.30pm)

Therapeutic Creativity as Co-Creation with God - Revd Dr Anne Holmes

During these seminars, we will consider the theology and psychology of creativity and raise certain questions: What does it mean to be creative? When we allow ourselves to be creative, are we joining in with God's ongoing creation? What is the therapeutic value of creativity? In what ways can regular engagement in the creative arts contribute to ongoing self-care? What is the connection between creative repair and the development of resilience? Does it make a difference whether we practise it alone or with others? Is there a link between grief and creativity? Can we see creative repair as spiritual discipline? Participants will be encouraged to reflect on their own experience of reading, writing, painting, drawing, looking at art, being involved in music and theatre, whether as active participants or appreciators.


A Christian Appraisal of Creativity, Creation and Technology - Dr Michael Burdett

One of the most significant powers theologians and philosophers argue is shared between human beings and the divine is the ability to create. Some contend that human creativity and the imagination are central to understanding how human beings are in the image of God. Much of this discussion focuses on creativity within the arts. Often overlooked in these discussions is how technology fits into human and divine creativity and creation. This course draws on thinkers such as Phillip Hefner, J. R. R. Tolkien and Mary Shelley, to explore whether and how technology exhibits the kind of creativity and creation shared with the divine. 

Week 2: 11 - 17 August

Morning seminars (9.00am-12.00pm)

African Pentecostalism and Spirit-led Entrepreneurial Creativity - Dr Chris Wadibia

Pentecostalism is the world’s fastest growing Christian denomination. The Pew Research Centre, a leading authority on religion-related research, estimates that by 2050 over 60% of the world’s Christians will live in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. The West is no longer the global centre of the Christian religion. One factor contributing to these shifts in global Christian dynamics is the growing number of Pentecostal churches in the Majority World adopting entrepreneurial ways of delivering religious services and building financial capacity in order to meet the needs of their worshippers and wider communities. This seminar introduces students to the dynamic relationship between African Pentecostalism and Spirit-led entrepreneurship in order to showcase the intersectional relationship between human creativity and interpretations of Christian theology in the Majority World.


Creativity in Peacemaking and Peacebuilding - Revd Dr Liz Carmichael MBE

This seminar aims to reflect on the nature of peace and how it is made and built, taking account of sources ranging from Isaiah through the New Testament to the present Global Peace Index. We will explore the motivations and resources for peacemaking and peacebuilding in Scripture and Christian tradition, and draw on the spirituality of Christian peacemakers past and present including St Francis and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. We reflect on themes of reconciliation, justice, truth, repentance, forgiveness, encounter and dialogue. Can we creatively build peace at every level, with social cohesion, in a sustainable environment, across the world today?


The Creative Consequences of Condemnation - Revd Dr Nicholas Turner

The Lord’s castigation and punishment of the children of Israel may seem to us harsh and often cruel.  And yet it stimulated a growing understanding of moral responsibility, which in turn led to the gift of Law, to the good news about Sin, and the promise of forgiveness.  It is a complex and unexpected story, how those stern words brought us joy and hope.  By careful study of biblical texts, and with some non-technical discussion of agency and free will, we shall follow the deepening vision of what it is to be Human, through the early Old Testament and into the New.


Afternoon seminars (1.30pm-4.30pm)

Christian Theologies of Beauty: From Ancient Near East to Non-Fungible Tokens - Revd Dr Jonathan Brant

This seminar will survey and constructively engage with different understandings of the relation between human creativity, beauty and the divine, between art and worship.  Moments, movements, and creative artforms considered might include: the culture of the Ancient Near East (ANE) encountered in scriptural texts; the Church Fathers and iconography; the theology and motivations of Iconoclasm; the paintings and architecture of Renaissance humanism; Modernism and modern arts including film; and our present moment of digital representation, AI-generated images, and a global market in Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).  Participants will develop knowledge, critical skills and tools that will aid their own appreciation of beauty and the arts, and would also be of value for scholarship, preaching or leading worship.


Storytelling in the Biblical Tradition - Revd Dr Suse McBay

From Genesis to Revelation, the stories the Bible tells are creatively told and retold to invoke new meaning and engage with different social situations. This seminar will explore the character and shape of that creative retelling, looking at examples of how the biblical tradition brings in tales from its Ancient Near Eastern setting, recrafts its own stories throughout the history of Israel and the Church, as well as creatively thinking about how we might do that within our own context today.


All participants who complete the programme will receive an attendance certificate. There is no assessment for the programme.


Description Costs
Residential (both weeks) - accommodation, tuition and meals £3750.00

Residential: En suite (both weeks) - £3750; Non-residential: (per week) - £1250


Programme fees

  • Residential (both weeks) - £3,750 total
    Fees include tuition (2 seminars per week and the weekly lectures); accommodation in a single room with private shower and toilet for the nights of Sunday 4 August to Friday 16 August 2024 inclusive (13 nights); meals in hall - breakfast and refreshments Mondays-Fridays and dinner Sundays-Fridays. Lunch is not provided. Lunch and dinner are not provided on Saturday 10 August, and lunch is not provided on Sunday 11 August.

  • Non-residential (per week) - £1250 per week
    Fees include tuition (2 seminars and the weekly lecture); no accommodation; dinner and refreshments at Christ Church from Sunday-Friday.

Invoicing and payment

Successful applicants who accept their offer of a place on the summer school will be invoiced for the appropriate programme fee once they have been formally enrolled on the programme. Please note there are no sources of funding (scholarships, bursaries, etc) available for applicants.

Invoices will be emailed to participants together with full instructions for payment. Fees may be paid online with a credit or debit card, or by bank transfer.

Participants are required to pay the full fee within 30 days of the date on which their invoice was issued. Those applying after 15 May will be required to pay their invoice within 7 days of receiveing it.

Please note that:

  • participants are expected to take out travel cancellation insurance to cover the programme fee and travel costs (see "Cancellations", below);
  • a place on the summer school is confirmed as soon as fee payment is received in full by OUDCE. You will receive a receipt for your payment via email.
  • places will not be held for participants whose fees are not paid in full by the due date; and
  • in no circumstances will participants be admitted to the summer school unless all fees have been paid in full.
  • If you are a non-UK participant you will receive a letter via email confirming your enrolment and course details which may be used to support a visa application. 


All enrolments are subject to OUDCE's Short Selective Course Terms and Conditions.

A contract between OUDCE and a participant comes into being when a participant accepts an offer of a place on the summer school.

  • You have the right to cancel this contract at any time within 14 days, beginning on the day you accepted the offer.
  • Places cancelled at any time after the expiry of the 14-day period will not be entitled to any refund of the price paid for the summer school under any circumstances.

If you wish to cancel your place on the summer school you must inform the Programme Administrator by email at

All participants need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred. OUDCE does not provide any insurance cover and the cancellation policy applies in all cases.

OUDCE reserves the right to alter details of any course should illness or any other emergency prevent a tutor from teaching, and to cancel a course or seminar if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 15 May 2024. If it is likely that individual seminars or the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days, and possible options clearly explained.

If you have not heard from OUDCE by 22 May 2024, you should assume that the course and your seminars will be running; there is no need to contact us to confirm. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

Teaching methods

Elements of seminar teaching will normally include:

  • mini lectures by tutors; and
  • tutor-led class discussions.


Before you submit your application

  • ensure you meet the admissions requirements (see "Selection criteria", below);
  • make sure you have all the required supporting documents listed below;
  • ensure you are familiar with the terms and conditions of enrolment on the summer school, especially those relating to payment of fees and cancellations (see "Payment", above); 
  • read the 'Important information regarding immigration and visa requirements' (see "Level and demands", below).

The application process

Download, print and complete the APPLICATION FORM. Please ensure all sections are completed fully, clearly, and in block capitals if handwritten.

The form must be accompanied by:

  • A brief statement of purpose (250-300 words) detailing your reasons for wishing to attend the summer school. This should include what you hope to get out of the programme, and what you are likely to contribute to the intellectual life of the summer school. This may include the relevance of the summer school to your current employment, professional or personal development, or present course of study. It is essential that you clearly state your reasons for wishing to enrol on specific seminars.
  • In the case of non-native speakers of English, official evidence of English language proficiency.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Applications should be emailed to or posted to: Theology Summer School, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

After you have submitted your application

You will receive an email from confirming receipt of your application, and informing you when your application will be reviewed by the Programme Director.

Application deadline

Applications will be reviewed on a first-come-first-served or rolling basis until 31 May 2024.

There is a limited number of places available on every seminar, and in assigning successful applicants to classes the Programme Director will pay particular attention to applicants' personal statements.

Subject to the availability of places, late applications may be considered until 15 June 2024.

Notification of the Programme Director's decision

Applicants will normally be notified of the Programme Director's decision by email from within 14 days of their application having been received.

Applicants who are offered a place on the summer school must respond in writing within 14 days to accept or decline the offer. In accepting an offer of a place applicants are committing to paying their programme fees in full by the due date.

Late applicants will be notified within 7 days of their materials having been received, and successful applicants will then have 7 days in which to accept or decline the offer of a place.


Participants will be formally enrolled on the summer school once they have accepted their offer of a place. Following enrolment the student will

  • be issued an invoice together with full instructions for payment (see "Payment", above);
  • By the end of June 2024, recieve the longer course descriptions and detailed reading lists, joining instructions, and arrival day arrangements.

Level and demands

Participants are expected to

  • undertake preparatory reading in advance of the programme;
  • attend all seminar sessions and plenary keynote lectures; and
  • be actively engaged with their seminar topics.

Disabled students (including those with mobility difficulties)

Disabled students who have registered or are planning to attend a college-based summer school with OUDCE should please contact the Programme Administrator, via email at, to discuss any support needs.

If you would like more information about support available to students with disabilities, please see: or consult the University Access Guide.

Selection criteria

This is an intensive programme of study taught to an informed international audience aged 18 and over. Applicants should be confident that they are academically and linguistically prepared for such a programme.

Academic requirements

Applications are welcomed from:

  • members of the clergy, especially as part of their continuing ministerial development;
  • lay ministers and readers;
  • theologians;
  • teachers of religious education;
  • normally those undertaking theological study at university level.

Although the direction of the summer school is Christian, religious leaders and members of other faiths are warmly welcomed as participants.

English language requirements

Participants are expected to participate fully in seminar discussions and must demonstrate an appropriate level of English language proficiency prior to enrolment.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language must provide evidence of their competency in the form of an original certificate or a certified copy that is not more than two years old on the date the summer school starts. The certification must satisfy one of the following requirements:

  • IELTS Academic - minimum overall score of 7.5, with not less than 7.0 in each of the four components.
  • TOEFL iBT - minimum overall score of 100, with not less than 22 for listening, 24 for reading, 25 for speaking and 24 for writing.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) - minimum overall score of 191, with not less 185 in each of the four components.

Non-native speakers of English who have successfully completed a full-time University degree in a country where English is the official language, and where English is the language of programme instruction, can provide their University degree certificate in lieu of the above. Please contact the Programme Administrator for further details.

Important information regarding immigration and visa requirements

European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals (excludes Irish nationals) 

You do not need a visa to enter the UK to participate in the summer school. You can enter as a visitor for up to 6 months by using your passport or identity card at the eGates. Note that from 1 October 2021, you will not be able to use your identity card and will need to show your passport; this is explained on the UK Government website. The Programme Administrator will provide all non-UK students with a standard format pdf letter by email confirming enrolment and course details once their fees have been paid in full which you should keep in your hand luggage in case you are ever asked any questions on arrival. If you have pre-settled or settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme this paragraph does not apply. 

Non-EEA nationals 

a. Nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, USA 

If you hold a passport from one of these countries you can enter via the eGates as a visitor for up to 6 months. However, you should still keep the standard format pdf letter we will provide you in your hand luggage in case of any queries, or in case you need to attend a staffed desk if the eGates are not working or if the eGates cannot recognise the chip in your passport. 

b. Other non-EEA nationals 

You may need to apply for a visa before coming to the UK depending on which passport you hold. You can check if you need a visa before coming to the UK on the UK Government website 

  • If the website shows that you require a visa: you must apply for a visitor visa before coming to the UK. Please check current visa processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you are applying from. 

  • If the website shows that you do not require a visa: you will still need to bring certain documents to show at the border in order to be admitted as a visitor

If you are not a national in section a. we strongly recommend that you establish whether you will require a visa before submitting your application.

Please ensure your summer school application is submitted as early as possible to allow yourself sufficient time to complete the visa application process.

The Programme Administrator will provide all non-UK students with a standard format pdf letter by email confirming enrolment and course details once their fees have been paid in full.

For legal reasons the Programme Administrator is not permitted to provide any visa advice to applicants. You can find information about visitor visas on the University visa and immigration webpages.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have taken the necessary steps to enable you to be admitted to the UK. The university takes no responsibility for a visa being denied at any point before or during a course.

If you fail to attend the course and are from a nationality that require a visa before coming to the UK, we may need to contact the Home Office if we have issued you with a standard format pdf letter for visa purposes to cancel this visa.

Please note that the standard cancellation policy applies in all cases (see Cancellations, above).



Founded in the 16th century, Christ Church is one of Oxford University's largest and most beautiful colleges.

Bedrooms and meals

Participants who choose to attend the summer school on a residential basis will have a single study bedroom.

Bedrooms are located on the four floors of the 1960s-built Blue Boar Quad; all rooms have private bathroom facilities (shower and toilet). Please note that Christ Church bedrooms do not have lift access, and the higher rooms can be located up a few flights of stairs. If you need a room on a ground or lower floor please indicate this on your application, or contact the programme administrator prior to your arrival.

Participants cannot be accommodated at Christ Church either prior to or beyond their programme dates. Family members and/or friends who are not enrolled on this summer school cannot be accommodated in college.

Participants will take meals (breakfast Monday 5 August to Saturday 17 August for residential participants and dinner Sunday-Friday for all participants) in Christ Church’s spectacular dining hall. Participants make their own arrangements for lunch. Should participants have any dietary requirements they are asked to complete the relevant section on the application form.

Please be aware that accommodation at Christ Church is limited and may not be available for those who submit their applications towards the end of the admissions period.

Non-residential participants

Participants who choose to attend the summer school on a non-residential basis are responsible for finding their own accommodation. Information on accommodation in Oxford is available at:

Dinner is provided for non-residential participants at Christ Church from Sunday-Friday, and participants are welcome to attend all aspects of the social programme.

IT facilities

WiFi is available throughout the college, including the bedrooms, although due to the thick walls some areas have better access than others. Participants will receive instructions on how to access this service and internet support will be available during the summer school office hours. There are no computers provided for participants' use at Christ Church.