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Why Research?

To carry out research in theology is to seek a better understanding of God and of God’s ways in the world that we might more fully participate in loving and serving others. Research resists the pressure to constant activism; it creates a space to reflect deeply on the things that matter most in the church and in society. Research facilitates meaningful conversation between people of different cultures and world views. As such research can be transformative, a way of enabling reconciliation and peaceable relations. 

Why do PhD research at IBTS?

Academic Excellence

Our commitment to academic excellence and Collaborative Partnership with the Faculty of Religion and Theology at the Vrije Universiteit (VU-FRT) means that doctorates are respected world-wide.

IBTS holds a Chair at VU-FRT in Christian Social Ethics with Prof. David Gushee. It also supports the McClendon Chair. These involvements provide a unique opportunity for those wishing to carry out research in baptistic theologies and Christian ethics.

High Quality Support

Our doctoral programme is widely recognised as a well-structured approach offering high quality support throughout the PhD journey.

The Post Graduate Research Certificate provides a strong start to the doctoral journey laying a sound basis in methodology and overall shape of the research project.

Baptist and Anabaptist Approach

We focus on a Baptist and Anabaptist way of doing theology. At heart this means that theological enquiry is grounded in the faith community, including in its convictions, practices and historical traditions.

International Community

The value of being part of an international cohort participating together in the research colloquium, online lectures and reading groups. Research students find that this stimulates creativity, provides significant mutual support and often leads to long-term fellowship and cooperation.

Doing theology in an international and cross-cultural setting provides a unique learning opportunity which significantly enhances the quality of research and the personal experience of all involved.

Opportunities for presenting and publishing research

The annual research colloquium and conferences are key opportunities for presenting research in an academically rigorous but supportive environment.

Research students are actively encouraged to publish papers throughout the course of their doctorate and publication opportunities are available through the IBTS journal, The Journal of European Baptist Studies.

Based in your own country

Research students remain in their own ministry context enabling them to continue in ministry and ground their research in their own local setting. They attend the annual research colloquium and research conferences as well as having online supervision and support. In this sense the programme follows a ‘split-site’ or hybrid mode of delivery.

Support for long-term academic development

The PhD programme is integrated into the IBTS Research Community to encourage and support researchers in post-doctoral studies and longer-term academic careers.

Outstanding resources

Researchers have access to outstanding library facilities including the Digital Theological Library and the John Smyth Library. They will have expert support from the IBTS librarian.


Thinking of Doing a PhD?

Are you interested in becoming an independent researcher and need some more in depth information on what that will involve?

Find out more

I see theological research as an intellectual endeavour of the heart; it emerges from our questions and yearnings about God, the world and ourselves. By attention to specific enquiries, we seek meaning that enriches particular contexts and also contributes to a boarder remit. Hence, research is enhanced when carried out in community, where work is rigorously scrutinised and challenged, and researchers are generously encouraged and supported. IBTS is one such space of learning, with our students, drawn internationally, undertaking innovative and imaginative research around the globe, with passion for the histories, theologies, communities, churches and countries which they inhabit.

Dr Fran Porter
Chair of IBTS Academic Oversight Committee and researcher

There was a familiar Low German phrase in Mennonite communities which captured some of their perspectives on higher education: je jelieda, je fechieda (roughly translated: the more educated, the more perverted). As an academic and theologian, I struggled to come to terms with my own passion for learning, research and theology in light of a faith community that was somewhat suspicious of higher learning. Afterall, the interpretation of Scripture and theological discernment doesn’t simply belong to the “experts,” the academics, but it belongs to the whole church. So why pursue further theological education? Honestly, I’ve never thought that my theological training somehow makes me “better” than the saints in my congregation. But the gift rigorous theological engagement has provided me with countless opportunities to engage the intricate beauty of the Christian faith and practice. Careful attention to the complex details of a text or a community’s life, has brought me again and again brought me into wonder and awe. For this I am grateful.

Prof. Irma Fast Dueck
Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg

The greatest challenges we face, both in the church and in the world, require serious engagement in theological research. Without it, we often end up jumping from one short-term solution to another, lacking memory, depth, and imagination that is borne of disciplined wrestling with theological ideas. That’s why it’s so exciting to see the kinds of questions our research students are tackling.

Rev Dr Lina Toth (Andronoviene) SFHEA
Assistant Principal & Lecturer in Practical Theology, Scottish Baptist College