Frequently Asked Questions

What is the teaching like?

Teaching at residential weekends is usually in the form of lectures either by core staff members or visiting speakers, who use a range of learning styles. Breathers and coffee breaks are allowed for! Some teaching is provided through seminars and focused small group work. The focus is on learning together as adults, so comments and questions are welcomed whether the format is lecture or seminar.


What do the modules look like?

Modules are delivered online. If printed they can easily be produced as A4 documents for a loose leaf file. Each module contains weekly units of study and a bibliography. The module guides you through a mixture of reading text that is provided, reading extracts from set books, questions to think or write about and preparation for your tutorial group or local learning group. Time guides are given for each step of the module to keep you on course. At the end of each unit questions for your tutorial group are listed. Each module ends with a feedback form so that there can be regular assessment of the effectiveness of the module.


Do I need to have broadband?

Because our modules are delivered electronically, students are expected to have home computing facilities with broadband internet access. This also enables you to develop word-processing skills, to communicate by e-mail with other students and staff, and to use the internet as a resource. Limited financial support is available for students who experience difficulty gaining access to home computing facilities.


Do I have to be ‘academic’?

The courses provided offer a staged entry to study. Those who have little or no prior theological learning will begin the course at a foundation level. This course is taught by distance learning modules which are designed to offer accessible introductions on a range of subjects. Those with some prior theological learning have the opportunity to enter the course at a higher level.


Does Sarum College give practical training?

The short answer is, ‘Yes!’. The details are that, early on in the course the student is allotted a training minister. Eventually a Training Partnership Agreement is drawn to outline the student-specific training needs and the terms by which those needs will be met. Each residential weekend includes some opportunities for practical training, such as planning and leading various forms of worship. All students also engage in a three-month placement in their second year, either in a church or a community project, both of which involve much practical engagement.


How often will I need to be in Salisbury?

Though we do not usually think in ‘terms,’ it helps here to say that students need to be in residence in Salisbury for two weekends per school term, from Friday tea time until Sunday lunch time. Then there is an awards presentation and accompanying study afternoon on a Saturday in the Autumn term, from 10 am. until 4 pm. The longest period of residence is the Spring School, usually either in Holy Week or Easter week.


When and how often do the residential weekends take place?

Six times a year, with two between summer and Christmas; two between Christmas and Easter, and, except when Easter is very late, two between Easter and Summer. When Easter is very late, there will be three residential weekends between Christmas and Easter, and only one in the third section of the year.


What learning support will I get?

The primary learning support for students will be your local tutor who will guide you through the distance learning material each week, give direction in discussion and advice about assignments (MA students will receive learning support from the module convenor who organises three sets of college-based seminars per module and participates in an online discussion forum). Your training minister is another important source of learning support, especially in relation to the formational aspects of each module. Another key source of support is Sarum’s ministry education staff who should be able to answer any questions that you may have.


How will I be allocated to a tutor?

When you become a student you will automatically be allocated a local tutor, who you usually meet via Skype with one or two other students. You may request a tutor who you can meet face-to-face, usually within 45 minutes travelling time from your home.


Just how close to a word limit does an essay have to be?

Pretty close! The word limit is an indication of the level of depth expected in any given answer. If you write something much shorter you have probably missed some important points or not treated the points you have covered thoroughly. If you go too far over, it you may either have provided a much fuller answer than was appropriate for the assignment, or you may have missed the focus of the question and ranged too widely. The assignments are intended to enable you to distil and apply your studies around one particular focus, rather than elicit everything you have read or known about a subject. Please see the Sarum Ministry Programmes Student Handbook 2015-2016 for more detail about word limits.


Is part-time training as good an ‘education for ministry’ as the equivalent number of years full-time?

Yes. The content of the course over three years is comparable to a two-year full-time course though the period of residence is obviously less than in a full-time college course. The course has six residential weekends and an eight-day residential course in each year, and the overall demands of the course: the tutorials, the lectures, the reading, the assignments and practical commitments, are similar to the demands made by a full-time course. The Church oversees the content of all theological training to ensure that different routes produce the same high standard of ‘education for ministry.’


Who are the local tutors?

Local tutors are specially selected for their theological abilities and skills in adult Christian education. We have a range of different types of tutors: men and women; lay people and ministers of the word and sacraments; Anglicans, Methodists, United Reformed, and from other denominational backgrounds.


Does Sarum College train lay people too?

Yes, we do take privately-funded students engaged in lay ministry of various kinds – please contact us for more details. We also deliver the Licensed Lay Ministry training programme for the Diocese of Salisbury.


What is the accommodation like?

Accommodation is in a single en-suite bedroom with a study space. The library is open during all College-based sessions. Students can gain access to the internet on library PCs and there is free wifi throughout the building.  Freshly cooked meals are served in the College’s dining room and staff cater for special dietary needs. Students volunteer to run the College bar in the Common Room.


Will there be a slant towards any particular churchmanship?

Sarum College is an ecumenical training centre. Each student year group brings a rich diversity of tradition and experience. Students are expected to share the treasures of their tradition but are also exposed to new ideas about church life and worship. Sarum College seeks to respect this wide variety of traditions in its publications and educational methods and to treat all our participating denominations as equal partners.


Do you have to be sponsored by your Church?

Ordinands have to be sponsored by their Church to be accepted onto the course. Independent self-funded students do not need to be sponsored.


How manageable are the modules in a distance learning mode for someone who is not an academic?

Don’t worry – you will not sink if you have not studied for a long time. The modules at Certificate and Diploma level provide good introductions to the topics they cover. They assume nothing except that you will be studying with commitment, enthusiasm and a basic knowledge of the faith that comes from being a member of the Christian community. Each module writer budgets time carefully for reading and study time to ensure that nobody gets left behind. Distance learning modules are very different from academic books. They have been described as ‘conversations in print’. Where they do tackle difficult ideas you will be helped to see what these ideas are and why they are important. You will find that your weekly tutorial group is an invaluable resource in helping you to gain confidence in your academic ability.


Where do students come from?

Students come from a wide area principally south of the M4 between Bristol and London and including the Isle of Wight and Channel Islands. But we also have students from elsewhere in the UK, from Europe and the rest of the world.


Isn’t the Course mainly Anglican?

Certainly there is a majority of Anglican students, and fewer Methodists, Baptist and other students. However, each denomination is taken seriously; each learns about the others, and the staff body is denominationally wide-ranging.


Should I contact Sarum College before or after my BAP?

Ideally before your BAP – we’d like to meet you as soon as possible to help decide whether this would be the best place for you to train (we are able to offer provisional places). For non-Anglicans, by the way, BAP stands for Bishops Advisory Panel: the national selection body for ordination training.