Full-time Ordination

Those looking to train full-time can do so through the College’s ‘Context-Based Ordination Training’ route. Context-Based Ordination Training offers a unique opportunity to combine theology with practice, and with formation for the role that God is calling ordinands to. On this mission-focused programme, students do half of their learning ‘on the job’ in a church placement (a local church or mission context), and the other half in the lecture hall, learning all the time how to relate them to each other. This route can be taken by any ordinand who has been recommended to train for incumbent status or who is recommended for Ordained Pioneer Ministry, and some other ordinands, in consultation with their DDO.

Alongside their ministry in the local context, students engage in academic study, leadership development and reflection through one full day’s teaching every week, one to two days (minimum) each week for personal study, five residential weekends through the year and one annual residential week.


Academic theology is taught during the morning and residential elements of the programme. The following curriculum shows the usual pathway for ordinands on the BA in Theology, Ministry and Mission programme. Diploma students will engage with a subset of these modules. Ordinands studying for an MA degree follow the relevant academic pathway and will audit modules relevant to their ministerial formation and development. 

Year 1

  • Foundations for Theology and Reflective Practice
  • Introduction to Church History
  • Introduction to the Bible 
  • Spirituality and Discipleship
  • Foundations in Christian Worship
  • Evangelism in Practice (Audit)

Pathway A – Introduction to Preaching in a Contemporary World
Pathway B – Introduction to Preaching and a Biblical language

Year 2

  • Topics in Christian Doctrine
  • Bible in Context
  • Ecclesiology 
  • Christian Faith and Ethical Living
  • Developing Ministry and Mission in Context

Pathway A – Leadership and Theology for Ministry and Mission 
Pathway B – Exploring Leadership and Theology for Ministry and Mission and a Biblical language

Year 3

  • Mission and Apologetics in Contemporary Culture
  • Further New Testament and Old Testament Text Study in context
  • Christianity and Inter Faith Engagement
  • Sacramental Theology and Ministry
  • Further Reflective Practice in Context (placement)

Students may also select from a combination of optional modules which may include: The Arts, Culture and Christian Ministry and Mission; Church History in Focus; Christian Doctrine in Context: Politics; and either an independent learning project or an extended dissertation. 

Healthy Church Leadership

We also offer a particular focus on training leaders for the church. This programme (primarily delivered on afternoons in the midweek teaching day) engages with a wide range of topics and issues relevant to church leadership, mission and ministry today. Depending on their programme of study, most students also engage with a week-long leadership training course at one of the residential weeks. Find out more about this programme here.

Frequently asked questions

Who can do this programme?

This training route is open to all Anglican ordinands recommended for training, except those recommended for 'Assistant Minister' status. It works well for Ordained Pioneer Ministry candidates, but is also open to 'regular' ordinands who want a missional and contemporary 'edge' to their training.

What might a normal week look like?

Context-based training is full-time training. Two or three days a week are spent in practical ministry and two to three days a week in academic study, including the full day of teaching at St Mellitus College, and one to two days of private study, preparation and assignment-writing. There are also residential weekends and a residential week, where there is further teaching, with a formational focus. The practical ministry component of the course may vary, depending on the context, but will normally involve participation in helping to lead Sunday worship, and a focussed role in the life of the church context, where you can take pastoral, spiritual and administrative leadership of some aspect of the church’s life, under the authority of an experienced supervisor.

Can I carry on working in my home church?

Yes – if you are working there already, it is often possible to stay based in your present church while doing your training. You may have to reduce your hours to make time for the academic part of the course.

What if I don’t have a church placement?

We know of a number of churches in London and sometimes beyond, both large and small, who are looking for ordinands to be placed with them. Please contact us for details of churches you might be placed with.

Can ordained pioneer ministers train with SMC?

Yes. Both ‘normal’ ordinands and OPM candidates train with us. There is a focus in the practical part of our training on leadership for a variety of approaches to church, fresh expressions of church, church growth, and church planting – either for those who want to learn how to plant or pioneer a church, or to help students prepare to lead churches that are growing enough to be able to plant or pioneer. See our Ordained Pioneer Ministry page for more information about OPM training at SMC.

Won’t I miss out on good academic training?

No. We are committed to Academic Excellence as a key part of the vision and values which characterize the training offered at St Mellitus College. We have a first-rate staff team made up of excellent academic teachers with significant experience and many publications to their name. In 2017 the Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams was appointed our first McDonald Professor in Christian Theology. We draw on the expertise of a wide range of visiting professors and lecturers and also regularly bring in practitioners who are experts in their field for the Healthy Church Leadership Programme.

The academic teaching comes alive for students because they are actually involved with ministry at the same time, and therefore able to apply it more immediately. Those who are theology graduates or who want to go on to further study can take either an MA in Theology, Mission and Ministry or MA in Christian Leadership alongside practical ministry training at St Mellitus College, as well as being rooted in a local church.

How much time would I spend on practical ministry and how much on study?

It depends how you want to focus your time. Students spend two to four days a week on academic study and practical ministry respectively.

What if I’m a theology graduate?

You can take one of our postgraduate programmes alongside practical ministry training at St Mellitus College, as well as being rooted in a local church.

How do the finances work?

All programme fees are paid by central church funds, through your diocese. Your living allowance will also be provided by your diocese, based on family outgoings and earnings. Your church context will contribute £2000 pa to the diocese, to help fund your training.

How do I know if I have a calling to ordained ministry in the Church of England?

Please take a look at the Church of England’s website to explore this question further.

Is the ordination programme available for international students?

Candidates training with us for ordained ministry need to be sponsored by a Church of England bishop.