God and Study Skills

Welcome to the pages for the God and Study Skills research project. The project is funded by a Common Awards Seedcorn grant.On these pages you can find details of the project, the team, its progress and its output.

This project aims to take a fresh look at study skills as they are understood, taught and reflected upon in the context of ministerial formation. Some of our key research questions include:

  • What role do study skills play in the context of ministerial formation?
  • How can study skills help students to integrate more successfully prayer, study and prophetic resistance?
  • How can theological reflection on study skills disrupt, challenge and resist dominant ideologies of education?

By the end of the project we hope to have developed a set of practical resources for use within the context of ministerial theology, as well as a published resource.


God and Study Skills: Learning as Formation aims to get to the pedagogical heart of the Common Awards by inviting a fresh look at ‘study skills’ as they are understood, taught and reflected upon in the context of ministerial formation. Within the HE sector there are all sorts of resources designed to provide students with the skills required for formal academic study: essay planning and writing, efficient reading, responding to feedback, critical thinking, compiling bibliography, referencing conventions and so on. While these resources are helpful, in our own practice we have found that they do not fully translate into the particular context of ministerial formation and the kind of theology of learning that lies at the heart of the Common Awards. In fact, they can often assume ideologies of education that we would want to resist. While there is likely to be a great deal of ‘informal’ theological reflection and good practice taking place within individual TEIs, there is, as far as we can tell, little in terms of gathered thinking and published work that explores the theme of study skills specifically as theological formation.

We aim to gather wisdom from around the Common Awards partnership and beyond (including the University of Roehampton) to think deeply about why study skills matter – that is, why they really theologically matter. One of the overarching questions we have in mind is: how can a deepening in the basic skills required for academic study lead to a deepening in relationship with God?


Project team

Dr Ashley Cocksworth

Ash Cocksworth is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Practice at the University of Roehampton. Previously he worked at the Queen’s Foundation and Durham University. He publishes in the area of systematic theology, with a particular interest in its relation to spiritual practice. Recent publications include Karl Barth on Prayer (T&T Clark, 2015) and Prayer: A Guide for the Perplexed (T&T Clark, 2018).

Professor Nicola Slee

Nicola Slee is Director of Research at the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham, Professor of Feminist Practical Theology at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, and Visiting Professor at the University of Chester. She has wide-ranging interests in practical theology, gender, lived religion, spirituality and poetics. Recent publications include Making Nothing Happen: Five Poets Explore Faith and Spirituality (Routledge, 2014) and Researching Female Faith: Qualitative Perspectives, co-edited with Anne Phillips and Fran Porter (Routledge, 2017).

Dr David Allen

David Allen is Academic Dean at the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham, where he teaches in areas of biblical studies. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and has particular research interests in the use of the Old Testament in the New.  Recent publications include The Historical Character of Jesus: Canonical Insights from outside the Gospels (SPCK, 2013) and According to the Scriptures: The Death of Christ in the Old Testament and the New (SCM, 2018).

Jen Smith

Jen Smith is a part-time PhD student and recipient of the John Hull Scholarship at the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham. Her research is focused on Prof. Dr John Hull’s work on Christian adult education. She is Academic Manager for a small, theological college training lay people in the Charismatic Evangelic tradition and works as a Pathway Tutor for those training to be qualified classroom teachers. In all aspects of work, her key interest is in the nature of the intersection between Christian theology and pedagogy; in particular, the theological implications of skill and context-based learning, the roles of Scripture and learner awareness and participation.



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