Ordination Training for the Church of England

Are you thinking about the ordained ministry?

If you think you may be called to the ordained ministry, you should, in the first instance, talk to a Vocations Adviser. To facilitate this, there are Co-ordinators in each of the Archdeaconries that will be able to put you in touch with a Vocations Adviser near you. For the contact details of the Co-ordinators, please see our Vocations section.

As a next step, you may then be referred on to the Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO) before you would enter the national process for the selection of Ordinands.

Once you have been recommended for training, the Church of England is committed to providing this free of charge, while also offering travelling expenses and a small book allowance.

Training for the ordained ministry


In Carlisle Diocese, the training of Ordinands is undertaken by Cumbria Christian Learning. The length of training is determined during the selection process, but the course normally takes three years of part-time study.

Each year, you will be studying four modules. There will be one module each term, which is normally delivered through seven local two-hour tutorials and a Saturday Day School. In addition to this, you will be required to attend two residential weekends per term. It is at these weekends that the fourth module is taught, but they also offer an opportunity for exploring issues that are not covered in our modules.

On some modules, you will be studying alongside those training for the Reader ministry, while others are taken by Ordinands only. The standard programme, which leads to a Diploma of Higher Education in Theology, Ministry and Mission, consists of the following modules:

Year 1

  • Introduction to the Old Testament
  • Introduction to the New Testament
  • Introduction to Preaching in the Contemporary World
  • Spirituality and Discipleship

Year 2

  • Introduction to Christian Doctrine
  • Foundations for Ministry and Worship in Context
  • Introduction to Pastoral Care
  • Preparing for Denominational Ministry

Year 3

  • Christian Faith and Ethical Living
  • Bible in Context
  • Mission and Apologetics in Contemporary Culture
  • Reflective Practice in Context

There are other award pathways available for those who come with prior theological learning and qualifications. If that is true for you, then the programme of your course may look different from the one above.


Placements form another key part of the preparation for your ministry. They are designed to give you a different experience of, and some fresh perspectives on, church and ministry to enable you to learn and reflect upon mission and ministry today.

During your first year on the course, you will be on placement in your own church.

In the second year, you will undertake a placement at a different church from your own. This placement is integrated into the ‘Foundations for Ministry and Worship in Context’ module and normally takes place from Advent to Easter.

As part of your third year, you will undertake a non-parochial placement, which allows you to explore mission and ministry in a setting outside the church.

Residential Weekends and Summer Schools

In addition to the evening tutorials, the course includes two Residential Weekends per term (i.e. six each year) and an annual Summer School. These are not only a vital part of the learning experience but also offer opportunities for joint prayer and worship – and for fun and fellowship. Over the years, the residential elements of the course have provided the space for many a friendship to form.

The Summer School is usually seven full days and is held at different venues. More recently, these have been Cranmer Hall, Durham; Ripon College, Cuddesdon (Oxford); and the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield. The dates of the Summer School are usually available about two years ahead to allow plenty of time for planning.

Over the years, the Residential Weekends have featured many inspiring teachers, including:

  • The Revd Prof. Loveday Alexander (Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield, Canon Theologian at Chester and Chichester Cathedrals)
  • Richard Bauckham (Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at St Andrew’s University)
  • Michelle Brown (Professor Emerita of Medieval Manuscript Studies, University of London)
  • The Revd Prof. Paul Fiddes (Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Oxford)
  • The Rt Revd Robert Freeman (Bishop of Penrith)
  • Fr George Guiver (Superior of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield)
  • Andrew Lincoln (Portland Professor in New Testament Studies, University of Gloucestershire)
  • Peter Ward (Professorial Fellow in Ecclesiology and Ethnography, Durham University)
  • The Revd Dr Samuel Wells (Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields and Visiting Professor of Christian Ethics, King’s College, London)

Time commitment

Learning takes time, and studying is hard work. But, as those who have taken this road before you have found, it is also stimulating, inspiring and highly rewarding.

You can expect to learn to read the Bible with new eyes, gain fresh perspectives on the art of preaching, and tap into the riches of the long tradition of Christian spirituality. You will be able to explore the tenets of our Christian faith, find out fascinating things about liturgy and worship, and gain better insights into pastoral care, especially as it relates to loss and bereavement. And there will be an opportunity to reflect on what it means to live as Christians today, and on how we might share our faith with the people who live around us.

Normally, we think that you would need to allow on average between eight and twelve hours per week for personal study. However, this will vary from week to week and depend on how fast and how widely you read.

Resources and other help

For each module, there is a site on Moodle, our Virtual Learning Environment. This has the full details of the content of the module, including information about the aims, content and readings for each of the tutorial sessions.

The Moodle site also provides resources such as scanned articles or extracts from books to help you with your studies, and you will find details about the work you will be required to do and how the module is assessed. This may include essays, magazine articles, recordings of sermons, Bible studies etc.

Cumbria Christian Learning also provides book boxes, which will be available at all tutorials, as well as access to our substantial collection of books at Rydal Hall library.

To help you get started, there is an induction day offering some general information as well as a study skills day, on which we explore how to write assignments, become a critical reader, undertake research etc.


Upon successful completion of the course you will normally receive a Diploma of Higher Education in Theology, Ministry and Mission, which is awarded by Durham University. However, there are other award pathways available for those who come with prior theological learning and qualifications.