Why did you choose to study the Practical Theology Doctorate?

Mainly because I had questions that I wanted to explore and the timing seemed right to consider further study! Practical Theology as a discipline offered a way to explore my questions about the experience of spirituality within a particular group of people. The nature of the course appealed to me as well, not only that it is part-time but gives the opportunity to develop as a researcher in stages. Although I knew that it would not always be easy to devote time to doctoral study and research alongside my role as a Baptist Minister, the Doctorate in Practical Theology (DPT) offered a way where it would be possible.

Why did you choose to undertake research at the University of Birmingham?

From my initial contact with the course leader to find out more about the DPT at UoB, right through to actually starting the course, I felt welcomed and supported. The course leader was so helpful and invested her time to help me work out whether this would be the right course for me and then to support me in putting a research proposal together. The Practical Theology department has an excellent reputation and was one of the first I approached – but it was the welcome that I received which helped me to decide to study here.

What are the best things about your course?

Being part of a cohort of researchers and having the opportunity to hear from one another and learn from each other throughout the course is a real asset, particularly as so much of my research and study time is spent in my own context. A major benefit of the course is that it is designed for practitioners in their fields to be able to continue in their contexts whilst undertaking doctoral research and so there is understanding about the particular challenges that can be faced, as well as the benefits.

What support have you received during your postgraduate research?

I have received all kinds of support over the past year. I have really noticed how available people have made themselves, from my course leader and supervisor, to library staff, to the IT helpdesk as well as the others in the post-grad community at UoB. Although I have sometimes felt like I am asking really obvious questions, I have been met with patience and a willingness to answer my questions and help me find out what I need to know. The informal support of my cohort of DPT research students has also been invaluable.

Outside of your research, what experience have you gained and how will it help you in the future?

Having the opportunity to attend a conference with a diverse mix of practitioners in the Practical Theology field has been really helpful in my wider thinking, and this also gave me the opportunity to reflect with other research students from different institutions. Practically, my time management has had to improve significantly and this is so important and helpful in all areas of my life! I am still quite early on in the course so I have no doubt that I have much more useful experience to gain.