Theological Study

Our independent students are those Trinity students not currently training for ordination in the Church of England, but seeking theological education for a wide variety of reasons and vocational goals.

Our independent students are just as important to the Trinity community as our ordinands, and study alongside them.

Whether you’re a gathered learner or a dispersed learner, you will benefit from excellent theological teaching, pastoral support and spiritual formation.

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Tony, first year independent student

"Coming to Trinity College Bristol as an independent student has been so spiritually uplifting. The focus on spiritual life helps every student deepen their own relationship and journey with God, alongside fantastic academic support provided by everyone I meet, including fellowship with other students."

Studying at Trinity

Our independent students, study, live and worship alongside our ordinands and are just as involved in community life.

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As an independent dispersed learner, you can pursue full- or part-time independent study at Trinity without leaving your home and current church.

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Part-time independent students are able to study theology alongside other work and church commitments.

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Most of our postgraduate research students are independent students.

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Craft your own programme

Unlike our ordinands, as an independent student, you have the freedom to select many of your own modules, crafting a programme of study that fits your needs and interests. Our theology programmes include the Certificate, Diploma, Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Graduate Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma, Master of Arts, Master of Theology, and Doctor of Philosophy. Our MA students have only one compulsory module (Research and Reflection: Resources and Methods) and our undergraduate students are able to select the modules they’d like to complete within required subject areas.

Our programmes are accredited by the Universities of Durham and Aberdeen. To find out more, click on an option below. You can learn more about our library and learning and disability support here.

Children and Young People stream

Child's hands building tower out of lego

Independent students studying for a Certificate, Diploma or BA as Dispersed or Gathered Learners can choose to follow the Children and Young People (CYP stream). This would particularly suit anyone who plans to be a youth minister or pastor, or who intends to work with young people in some capacity. 

Many of your modules would be the same as those of your fellow students, so you would be learning alongside students training for a variety of ministries. You would have the option within these shared modules to focus on issues relating to Children and Young People. In addition, you would do some courses online which are specifically tailored towards Children and Young People; these would be taught in partnership with the Bristol Baptist College as part of their CYP course. We could also work with you and your local church contexts to set up placement experiences to help you gain practical ministerial skills. 

If you are eligible for a Relay or Jubilee Scholarship, this will cover the CYP stream. 

For more information about what modules you might study as part of the CYP stream or with any other questions, please contact our Academic Vice Principal, Helen Collins, at


To schedule a visit or ask questions, please email Click here to find out more about our fees and funding, and read on to find more information about the different ways of studying at Trinity.


Why study theology if you aren't becoming a vicar?

At Trinity we offer a first class theological study programme, taught in an accessible way, to students who are not training for ordination. Our independent students join the Trinity community to study theology for a wide range of reasons that include:

  • Church leadership outside of the Church of England. We work in partnership with Bristol Baptist College and with local non-denominational churches, and our community includes students and tutors from a mix of backgrounds. 
  • Those who want to teach RE, Bible studies or theology at primary, secondary, or tertiary levels. Some of our current independent students are preparing to teach RE in secondary schools, while others are accessing our postgraduate research MA and PhD options to prepare themselves to teach at university level.
  • Lay leadership in the Church of EnglandWe offer a robust theological education to those involved in teaching, preaching, working with youth and children, and engaging in mission through their churches. 
  • Mission work. Some of our students have felt a calling by God to serve him in mission work in the UK or overseas. As they prepare to engage with the practical and spiritual needs of others, a strong theological education provides a strong foundation for their work.
  • Other. Some of our independent students have goals to become human rights activists, chaplains, or some join us simply out of a desire to gain a deeper understanding of the Bible as followers of Jesus Christ. Time spent gaining a deeper understanding of how to read your Bible and what it means to follow Jesus Christ in today’s world will never be wasted.


Certificate in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Three-year Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Bachelor of Arts in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Graduate Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Postgraduate Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Master of Arts in Theology, Ministry and Mission

Modes of Study

Ordination Training

Theological Study (Independent)


Postgraduate research

Come and visit us

The best way to find out if we’re the right fit for you is to come and visit us. We have several Open Days and Open Afternoons during the course of a year. If those dates don’t work for you, don’t worry – we can arrange for you to visit another time. We look forward to meeting you!

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