AQF Level 10 Award

The DMin provides study in Christian Life and Ministry by research at the highest academic level in the context of professional practice, with supporting specialist coursework.

Doctor of Ministry

CRICOS 063714M

The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) is an AQF level 10 research doctoral award. It meets the specifications for a Doctoral Degree (Professional) set by the Australian Qualifications Framework. It provides the opportunity to pursue advanced study in Christian Life and Ministry by research at the highest academic level in the context of professional practice, with supporting specialist coursework. It is designed for those who seek to expand their own understanding and develop new knowledge in professional ministry contexts, or for the personal transformation of the individual in academic and vocational areas.

The Doctor of Ministry is undertaken by a combination of specialist coursework (20%) and research and thesis (80%).

The specialist coursework component enhances the candidate’s capacity for academic research in the context of professional practice and prepares the candidate to develop a specific Thesis Proposal. The research and thesis component provides the opportunity for the candidate to embark on a significant, extended piece of research, which investigates an area of Christian Life and Ministry in a systematic, creative and comprehensive manner. The research will contribute to knowledge in an original way.

Together, the specialist coursework and the research and thesis equip the person for advanced leadership in ministry and would also support an appropriate academic or professional career involving research.


3-4 years full-time or 6-8 years part-time

Fee Information

Full-time per semester - AUD$7,340
Part-time per semester - AUD$3,670
Fees are same for domestic and international students.
FEE-HELP may be available for eligible students.

Study Terms

Semester 1: 6 January 2020 - 5 June 2020. Census Date: 27 March 2020
Semester 2: 8 July 2020 - 6 December 2020. Census Date: 31 August 2020

Award Specifications

View program and the specific regulations

Supervisor List

View details

Apply Online

The Sydney College of Divinity may admit to candidature in the DMin those persons who have attained:

  • A Bachelor (Hons) degree or equivalent with results at Class II from the Sydney College of Divinity or an equivalent institution; or
  • A Graduate Diploma with a GPA of 2.8+ and one 18 cpt research unit at High Credit level from the Sydney College of Divinity or an equivalent institution; or
  • Qualifications deemed by the Sydney College of Divinity to be equivalent to or higher than those above;

AND have at least four years’ full-time or equivalent part-time certified experience in ministry.

In all cases, prior studies should include sufficient preparation to undertake the proposed coursework and research related to Christian Life and Ministry.

In exceptional cases, candidates may be admitted on the grounds of academic and/or professional attainments, including publications, in the area of Christian Life and Ministry to which their coursework will be aligned and in which they wish to pursue the research.

Notwithstanding the provisions above, the Sydney College of Divinity may require suitability for candidature to be demonstrated by such examination or other work as determined by the Sydney College of Divinity

The Sydney College of Divinity will decline to accept an applicant if it cannot offer supervision in the proposed field of research.

Applicants must submit together with their application:

  • a Summary of Research Intentions, sufficient for the Research Committee to determine the general suitability of the topic and availability of appropriate resources and supervision;
  • a Certification of Experience in Ministry.

Applicants whose entry qualifications were obtained in an institution where English is not the language of instruction will be required to demonstrate competency in English by an IELTS result of 7.0 in all bands of the test and may be required to attend such English language courses as prescribed by the Sydney College of Divinity.

Applicants will be required to show evidence of competence in ancient and/or modern languages, in order to access primary sources and/or significant secondary works relevant to their thesis topic, and competence in any other relevant area of knowledge, such as statistics. Any language or other requirements will be determined after advice from the Research Committee at the time of application and subsequently in consultation with the proposed supervisor.

All DMin candidates proceed to the award by coursework (20%) and research and thesis (80%).

  • The coursework component consists of two 18 cpt units, which must be completed with at least a High Credit average. The two units are designed to familiarize students with:
    • contemporary theology of ministry at specialist level;
    • contemporary scholarship in key areas of ministry at specialist level;
    • applied research methodologies;

and to provide students with the tools to develop their Summary of Research Intentions into a formal Thesis Proposal.
The two units are:
R10001   Pastoral and Practical Theology: Hermeneutics and Methodological Paradigms
R10002   Research Settings in Pastoral and Practical Theology

All candidates begin the coursework at the beginning of the academic year. Full-time candidates do both units in the first semester of enrolment; part-time candidates do R10001 in the first semester and R10002 in the second semester.

If the required result is not achieved in the coursework, the candidate will be informed that he or she may not proceed to the research and thesis stage. If the coursework has been passed the candidate may be offered transfer to a postgraduate coursework program with credit for the two 18 credit point units or, if appropriate, the MPhil (without credit). Period of candidature provisions for the award apply from the time of transfer.

Candidates who have achieved the required result continue their candidature with research approved by the Research Committee and submit a thesis embodying the results of the research. The thesis will form an original contribution to research in the area. The thesis is to be 60,000 words maximum, including footnotes/endnotes but excluding bibliography and appendices.

A candidate may not submit as the main content of the thesis any material that has previously been submitted for a degree, unless that material has been significantly reworked in the context of the thesis being submitted.

Not later than one semester after satisfactory completion of the coursework component for full-time candidates or two semesters for part-time candidates, the candidate will submit a formal Thesis Proposal for approval by the Research Committee. Following approval, the thesis topic may not be substantially varied except with the permission of the Research Committee.

As part of the program for the award of the DMin, upon entering the research and thesis component of the program the candidate is required to participate in the Research Seminars listed for each year of their candidature, and to present a paper at least once a year for full-time candidates and at least once every second year for part-time candidates. Ongoing enrolment in the award is subject to completing these requirements.

Candidates in their first year of enrolment must attend a Research Degree Workshop in addition to the Research Seminars, provided that they have not previously attended such a seminar with the Sydney College of Divinity as part of a previous award. Regardless of such previous attendance, they may be required to attend those parts of the Workshop considered relevant to their current research.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates will have systematic and critical understanding of a complex field of learning in Christian Life and Ministry and specialized research skills for the advancement of learning in the field. They will have:


  • systematic and critical understanding of the chosen area of Christian Life and Ministry
  • mastery of a substantial body of knowledge at the frontier of knowledge in the field, including knowledge that constitutes an original contribution
  • expert understanding of theories pertaining to the field
  • substantial knowledge of research principles and methods applicable to the field


  • expert and specialized cognitive, creative, and technical skills in the field of research, so that they are able independently and authoritatively to:
  • critically evaluate existing knowledge and ideas pertaining to the field of research
  • systematically investigate and integrate other information potentially relevant to that field including potentially relevant theories
  • demonstrate and apply theoretical understanding of the field
  • develop or adapt research methodologies to extend existing understanding of the field
  • generate original knowledge in the field
  • communicate results of research cogently and appropriately to specialist and non-specialist audiences, using the English language competently and effectively for the purpose

Applications of Knowledge and Skills

  • as a practitioner or learner in relation to the inter-dependent building up of the church and good of the wider community, ongoing capacity to:
  • plan and execute a coherent, significant and original piece of research with intellectual independence and authority
  • generate significant and original knowledge in the field
  • contribute expertise to academic discourses in the field
  • take initiatives, think creatively and make innovations in new situations and/or undertake further learning
  • assume full responsibility and accountability for personal outputs
  • relate the skills gained to the professional practice of ministry
  • engage in the formation of ministers
  • contribute to the professional development of ministry leaders
  • assist ministers, including ministry leaders, to relate their theological awareness to the practical needs of people in the contemporary world.

Graduate Attributes  

DMin graduates will:

  • Be able to identify, analyse and articulate problems and issues in discourses current in their academic, professional and social communities
  • Recognize the level of their own understanding
  • Demonstrate creativity and originality of thought in solving problems and dealing with complex and abstract conceptual matters, and seek resolutions in light of the common good
  • Be able to access information efficiently using the means most appropriate to purpose and context
  • Conduct themselves with academic integrity and rigour and exercise critical thinking in forming judgments
  • Work autonomously and with an open mind
  • Understand the distinction between information and argument and be adept in marshalling information as evidence in argument
  • Adopt and practise responsible values and attitudes as members of academic, professional and social communities, based in part on their experience as SCD research candidates
  • Be able to communicate their thinking coherently and effectively, with appropriate English proficiency, in public debate and printed word
  • Have confidence to engage in public discussions of faith and ethics
  • Appreciate and act on opportunities for lifelong learning and encourage others to recognize learning opportunities for themselves
  • Be willing to assume high-level leadership in their academic, professional and social communities as needed

Applications for candidature are made directly to the Sydney College of Divinity. Applications can be submitted online and are accepted throughout the year.

The process of applying online for candidature must commence only after you have discussed your proposed study with the Sydney College of Divinity Research Director Professor James Harrison. Email Prof Harrison at  [email protected] to explore your options.

An overview of the process would be

  1. Attend an interview with the Sydney College of Divinity Research Director in person or on phone
  2. Decide on the research degree taking onto consideration what is most suited to your research topic. You would also need to consider the time, cost and other factors before you embark on your study
  3. Check your eligibility and know the regulations
  4. Prepare to submit your online application which includes the Summary of Research Intentions. Have all the information and supporting documentation ready. All official documents must be certified
  5. Submit your HDR Application online

The Sydney College of Divinity Research Committee will consider the application. If you are successful, you will be admitted on a provisional basis and assigned a principal and secondary supervisor. They will assist you to prepare a Thesis Proposal.  The candidature is provisional until the transition from coursework to thesis occurs following the achievement of commendable results in the two coursework units and acceptance of the Thesis Proposal by the Research Committee.

A graduate research degree provides a unique opportunity to follow and focus on an area of interest, and make an important contribution to the development of your chosen area. The decision to enter into a research degree should not be taken lightly. The study requires substantial time and financial commitment, and the capacity for innovative, independent research; critical thinking; time and project management skills; and skills of organisation and communication of information. Typically, full-time candidature requires an average of thirty hours per week and part-time candidature requires an average of fifteen hours per week. These hours should preferably be achieved through regular weekly commitment, but they may be achieved through varying periods of more and less intensive work.

International students and others not using FEE-HELP will be required to pay the tuition fee at the beginning of each semester. Sydney College of Divinity may discuss payment plans if paying upfront presents difficulties.

Thesis Proposal

A formal Thesis Proposal will be submitted to the Research Committee within one semester of admission for a full-time candidate and within two semesters of admission for a part-time candidate. The formal Thesis Proposal may not be substantially changed after acceptance without application to the Sydney College of Divinity Research Committee.

The thesis submitted for examination must be clearly written in English and the expression should not hinder the reading and comprehension of the argument. For those candidates with a non-English background, proof-reading and advice on felicitous expression and correct English are particularly important. Such students may be recommended to seek the assistance of persons competent in English. Any arrangements that may ensue are completely independent of the Sydney College of Divinity. In any modification of expression, the content of the thesis must remain the work of the candidate. If there is any doubt, the Research Director should be consulted.

Research Supervision

All candidates have two supervisors, a principal supervisor, who must hold a doctoral degree and be research active according to the Research Active in the SCD Policy, and an associate supervisor, who must hold a doctoral degree, carry out research and normally be research active according to the Research Active in the SCD Policy. These are formally appointed by the Research Committee.

Each semester the supervisors report to the Research Committee concerning the candidate’s progress and any other related matter, using the Research Degree Progress Report form, which requires also candidate comment on the supervisor’s comments. This enables the Committee to monitor progress, offer advice to supervisors and/or candidates, and make appropriate recommendations to the Academic Board. In the event of continued unsatisfactory progress termination of candidature may be recommended. Unsatisfactory progress occurs when there is no evidence that production of the thesis has been advanced by identifiable further research, constructive meetings of the candidate with the supervisor, or written drafts, and where there are insufficient grounds for special consideration.

To make advanced theological education available to those who wish to benefit from it, the Sydney College of Divinity permits some candidates living away from Sydney to pursue higher degrees by research. In order to carry out its responsibility to ensure adequate supervision the Sydney College of Divinity requires of such students that they:

  1. Arrange for a substantive meeting with their supervisor twice per semester in person or by email or other means.
  2. Communicate at least briefly with the supervisor at least once a month, irrespective of the progress that has been made in the month that has elapsed.

In addition, in some cases, the Research Committee may require students to devote some period to the writing of the thesis in ongoing close contact with the supervisor. This may entail residing for a time close to the supervisor’s workplace. The associated costs will be met by the student.

Compulsory Research Degree Workshops

These workshops are compulsory for all new thesis writers. Held annually, they are offered in intensive mode, early in first semester. They will also be offered early in the second semester for any new students. Presented by various lecturers, they are designed to introduce candidates to practical matters affecting the production of a thesis such as:

  • defining a thesis topic and planning chapters
  • research methodologies
  • bibliographical aids
  • using the library to best effect in research
  • writing a formal thesis proposal
  • ethical considerations and ethics clearance procedures
  • examiners’ expectations
  • guidelines for writing and documenting
  • writing an abstract
  • participating in the SCD research seminars and in conferences.

Compulsory Research Seminars

Several Research Seminars (about eight) are held in the evening at intervals throughout the year, coordinated by the Research Director. Ongoing enrolment in all research degrees is subject to completing attendance requirements and presenting a paper related to the research seminar at least once each year for full-time candidates and at least once every second year for part-time candidates. Where the candidate normally resides abroad or in an Australian location remote from the usual physical location of the seminars in Sydney, the Research Director will advise the candidate concerning minimum participation in the seminars.

Research Ethics

Specific ethics clearance may be required depending on the research. Whether or not a candidate needs to obtain a specific ethics clearance, it is still obligatory to conduct ethical research. Ethical research includes avoidance of the following:

  1. Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the representation of another’s works or ideas as one’s own; it includes the unacknowledged word for word use or paraphrasing of another person’s work, and the inappropriate unacknowledged use of another person’s ideas.
  2. Fraud: Academic fraud is the falsification and fabrication of research results and dishonesty in reporting research results.
  3. Misrepresentation: Misrepresentation is the giving of false or misleading information in academic matters. It includes falsely claiming credit for past study and falsely stating that thesis material has not been used in another thesis beyond the permitted scope.
  4. Unethical behaviour: Unethical behaviour is behaviour that breaches accepted ethical standards. It includes failing to observe the terms of an ethical approval to conduct research and misuse of confidential information obtained in field education.

Failure to conduct ethical research may result in the candidate being charged with academic misconduct.


Each research degree candidate will be asked to nominate as a home library one of the Sydney College of Divinity libraries, typically but not necessarily the library of the Institution in which the supervisor is based. This enables the Sydney College of Divinity, in consultation with the supervisor and candidate, to build up research resources in the topic area of the candidate using a Research Degree Library Resources Grant to the library from the Sydney College of Divinity. The grant is made to the nominated library each semester in which the candidate is enrolled.

Where the candidate normally resides abroad or in an Australian location remote from the libraries of the Sydney College of Divinity, the candidate will nevertheless make use of the Sydney College of Divinity libraries through electronic access, interlibrary loans, and personal use during visits to Sydney or to the location of other Sydney College of Divinity libraries. The Sydney College of Divinity will assess such a candidate’s probable library needs at the time of enrolment and periodically, and may advise or negotiate use of a suitable university or college library elsewhere on behalf of the candidate. The Sydney College of Divinity takes responsibility for ensuring adequate library access for all its students.

For more information email [email protected]

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