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The Centre for Christian Education and Pastoral Theology

Christian Education
Research and projects

The Centre for Christian Education and Pastoral Theology brings together academics to offer high quality scholarship, leadership and practice in the field of Christian Education. The Centre works across the Faculties of Arts & Humanities and Education and aims to promote inter-disciplinary dialogue that bridges the gap between theology and education and between theory and practice. This is done within a spirit of ecumenical dialogue between different denominational traditions and through theological, spiritual and practical reflection.

Centre activities are underpinned by research expertise, contribute to knowledge exchange in the field of Christian Education and impact communities of educational practice and church audiences. These include Roman Catholic and Anglican bodies and funding organisations, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales, Catholic Education Service, Church of England Church House, church schools, colleges and academies, Cathedrals Group HEIs, as well as other educational agencies working for the common good.
The director of the Centre is Dr Ros Stuart-Buttle, Senior Lecturer in Theology and Education.

For general enquiries about the Centre for Christian Education and Pastoral Theology, please email 


Dr Ros Stuart-Buttle
Director and Senior Lecturer in Theology and Education 

Dr John Shortt
Professorial Fellow in Christian Education and Theology 

Professor John Sullivan
Emeritus Professor of Christian Education 

Associate members

Sr. Helen Bamber (Postgraduate Diploma in Theology (pathway in Supervisory Practice), Lampeter, University of Wales)

Gerry Bradbury (M. Ed., Manchester University)

Margaret Buck (M. Ed. in Education, Birmingham University)

Dr Mark Chater, (Culham St Gabriels' Trust)

Liz Clark (MA in Pastoral Theology (Distinction), St Mary’s University College, Twickenham)

Dr Jean Forward (EdD (Educational Management), University of Hull)

Robert Haigh (Postgraduate Certificate in Process Consultancy, Manchester University)

Joanna Hale (MA in Contemporary Theology in the Catholic Tradition, Heythrop College, University of London)

Natalie Maunder (MA Theology and Religious Studies, York St John University)

Dr Andrew Morris, Consultant in Catholic Education & Catholic Schools

The Centre for Christian Education currently offers the following awards: 

MA/MEd in Christian Education and Leadership

Significant educational change has taken place in recent years and church schools and institutions are not immune from this change. Widespread debates around the nature, role, purpose and contribution of faith schooling in the UK challenge church schools and their leaders to adopt not only best policies and practices affecting teaching and learning, curriculum, leadership and governance but also to articulate the distinctiveness of what a church school can bring to the educational enterprise. This postgraduate degree will equip current and future leaders in church schools with the conceptual and spiritual resources derived from the Christian tradition and provide an opportunity to discern and deploy these principles and resources in the ongoing Christian mission, ethos and priorities of their school.

Find out more about the MA/MEd in Christian Education and Leadership. This postgraduate award offers a number of fees-reduction bursaries to successful applicants.

Religious Education (Postgraduate Taught 60 Block)

The MA Education and Religious Education takes an innovative approach to religious education issues, allowing students to develop strengths and interests by encouraging reflection and debate with like-minded professionals, supported by staff with experience and expertise in this area. The programme has been designed to cater for the interests of professionals in all kinds of settings including primary, secondary and post-compulsory education; faith and non-faith schools and faith organisations.

Find out more at the MA Education and Religious Education course page.

Anglican Church School Studies

Anglican Church School Studies is a non-accredited professional development course that has been developed in consultation with leading local practitioners to provide opportunities for Hope students undergoing teacher training to develop working knowledge, understanding and skills to enhance their preparation for a role and contribution within an Anglican school.

This award explores the distinctive identity and defining characteristics of Church of England schools. It examines the relationship between values, vision, ethos and standards within an Anglican school and considers the special nature and impact of religious education and collective worship. The importance of reflective practice in an Anglican school context is emphasised, with clear opportunities to develop professional knowledge, understanding and skills and to prepare with confidence for a role and contribution within an Anglican setting.

For further information, please email 

Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies (CCRS)

What is the CCRS?

The CCRS is awarded by the Board of Religious Studies on behalf of the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales. It is recommended for any teacher who wants to teach in a Catholic school as well as anyone seeking to deepen their knowledge and understanding in Catholic faith and theology. Any person who wishes to be involved in Catholic education and formation may apply for the course. This includes those involved in Religious Education in schools, Parish Catechesis and other ministries in the Church and anyone wishing to follow the course for faith development or personal interest.

CCRS at Liverpool Hope University

The CCRS course is led by Dr Ros Stuart-Buttle and the course administrator is Rachel Foster. The CCRS is delivered as a two year rolling programme and requires completion of a total of eight modules: six core and two specialist modules. Four modules are offered each academic year and so it is possible to complete the course within two years or else take up to five years as allowed by the Board of Studies.

There are two options for taking CCRS with Liverpool Hope University:

  1. If you are a full-time Hope registered student you can take part in the in-house programme, with modules delivered across a series of Saturdays during term time. Each module consists of two Saturday sessions (except the specialist module which is run intensively over one Saturday) and currently costs £30 per module.
  2. If you wish to study the CCRS Online (i.e. you are not a full-time Hope registered student but an external who wishes to follow the course for professional development) then you may apply to join the CCRS Online, where modules are hosted in the university’s virtual learning site and there is no requirement for campus attendance. Media-rich learning resources invite independent study and reflection together with interactive activities for collaborative exchange among tutors and students. It is possible to transfer into the CCRS Online from another CCRS local centre providing that the entire certificate (all eight units) is completed within a period of five years following registration with the Board of Studies. Each CCRS Online module currently costs £75.

Download the CCRS Online programme leaflet.

For both options there is a £25 Board of Studies registration fee. Module registration and payment is made via the University online store.

Find out more

For all enquiries relating to the CCRS course at Liverpool Hope University please e-mail

Alternatively, find out more about the national CCRS award by visiting the Board of Studies website.

New publication 2018

Stuart-Buttle, R. & Shortt, J. (2018) Christian Faith, Formation and Education. Palgrave Macmillan. See 

Dr John Shortt

Shortt, J. (2014) Bible-Shaped Teaching. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock.

Shortt, J. (2012) ?????????? ??????? ??????????. Kiev, Ukraine: Purposeful Design Publications.

Shortt, J. (2011) ‘Considering Dialogue Education in a Christian Faith Context’ in The Theological Educator. Oct 2011.

Dr Ros Stuart-Buttle

Stuart-Buttle, R. (2018) ‘Research and Practice in Catholic Educational Studies’ in Whittle, Sean ed. (2018) Researching Catholic Education: Contemporary Perspectives, Springer.

Stuart-Buttle, R. (2016) 'Does RE Matter: What do Teachers Think?' in Shanahan, Mary ed. (2016) Does Religious Education Matter? Taylor & Francis.

Stuart-Buttle, R. (2016) 'Vatican II and New Thinking on Catholic Education: An English Perspective' in Whittle, Sean ed. (2016) Vatican II and New Thinking about Catholic Education. Routledge/Taylor & Francis.

Stuart-Buttle, R. Review of Anglican church school education: moving beyond the first two hundred years. Edited by Howard J Worsley. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic. 2014. Pp. 269.

??Stuart-Buttle, R. (2014) 'Interrupting Adult Pedagogy Through Online Learning' in The Journal of Education and Christian Belief, Vol 18 (1) Spring 2014, pp. 61-75.

Stuart-Buttle, R.? (2014)? 'Being Open to Online Others: Online Journals and Professional Learning Among Church School Practitioners'. ACISE XXV Colloquium?, ??Liverpool Hope University Press, pp. 239-248?.

Stuart-Buttle, R. (2013) Virtual Theology, Faith and Adult Education: An Interruptive Pedagogy, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Cambridge? Scholars Publishing. ISBN 9781443847308

Stuart-Buttle, R. (2011) ‘Communicating Faith and Online Learning’ in Sullivan, J. (2011) ed. Communicating Faith. Catholic University of America Press, pp. 328-343.

?Professor John Sullivan

?Professor John Sullivan 'The Story of An Educational Innovation: the MA in Catholic School Leadership at St Mary's University College,, 1997 - 2013'' by John Sullivan, Alan Murphy and David Fincham, International Studies in Catholic Education volume 7, Number 1, March 2015, pp.28 - 45.

Four short articles in Encyclopedia of Christian Education (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) edited by George Thomas Kurian and Mark A Lamport: ‘Faith and culture’, ‘Tradition and reform ‘, ‘Teaching: human and divine’ and ‘Sanctification and learning’.

'Critical Fidelity and Catholic School Leadership' in International Handbook of Learning, Teaching and Leading in Faith-Based Schools, edited by Judith Chapman (et al), Dordrecht: Springer, 2014, pp.553 - 566.

'Theology as Partner for Educators' in New Perspectives in Philosophy of Education edited by David Lewin et al (Bloomsbury, 2014), pp.199 - 217.?

Sullivan, J. and McKinney, S. J. (2013) Eds., Education in a Catholic Perspective, Farnham: Ashgate?

'Newman's Circle of Knowledge and Curriculum Wholeness in the University' in Receptions of Newman, edited by Frederick Aquino and Benjamin King (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

‘A space like no other’ in Does Religious Education Matter? Edited by Mary Shanahan (Routledge, 2016), pp.7 – 24. ‘Relative autonomy and the Catholic university’ in Vatican II and New Thinking about Catholic Education edited by Sean Whittle (Routledge, 2017), pp.215 – 235.

‘Living Tradition and Learning Agency: Interpreting the ‘score’ and personal rendition’ in Christian Faith, Formation and Education, edited by Ros Stuart-Buttle and John Shortt (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp.93 – 114.

‘Diversity and Differentiation in Catholic Education’ in Researching Catholic Education edited by Sean Whittle (Springer, 2018).

‘The Christian Academic in Higher Education: The Consecration of Learning (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). ‘The Role of RE teachers in Catholic Schools: Between Pedagogy and Ecclesiology’ in Religious Education in Catholic Schools, edited by Sean Whittle (Bern: Peter Lang Publishing, 2018).

Dr. Andrew B. Morris

Andrew has spent forty years working in Catholic education in a variety of teaching, leadership, administrative and governance roles. He has been a teacher and headteacher, a chairman of governors of both primary and secondary Catholic schools, a member of several School Organisation Committees and Deputy Director of Schools of the Archdiocese of Birmingham. He stepped down from his role as Senior Research Fellow and Directorship of the National Centre for Christian Education at Liverpool Hope at the end of the 2011-12 academic year. He remains an Associate member of Centre, is an Associate of the National Institute for Christian Education Research at Canterbury Christ Church University and a part-time MA and PhD tutor at the Maryvale Higher Institute of Religious Sciences, Birmingham.

He is the author of over fifty journal articles and three books - 'Fifty Years On: The Case for Catholic Schools'; 'Re-Imagining Christian education for the 21st Century' (both with Matthew James Publishing); and 'Catholic Education: Universal Principles, Locally Applied' (published by Cambridge Scholars Press).

Centre for Christian Education projects are collaborative, contribute to university recruitment, support the production of academic knowledge and discourse, bring funding or other income, and impact the communities with whom the Centre works. It is envisaged that the Centre’s work will contribute to one of the impact case studies used in the REF2020 in Theology, Philosophy and Religious Studies.

Current research being undertaken by Centre members involves collaborative initiative with Cathedrals Group universities exploring the changing context for the teaching of religion in schools, namely the GCSE and A level reforms.

The Centre is also leading a new national CCRS project examining the theological formation of teachers and lay adults in church schools and parish contexts in relation to what constitutes adult theological literacy. This project is supported by the CCRS Board of Religious Studies and Catholic Education Service.

New research partnership is currently under exploration with Dr Tom Wilson concerning Collective Worship in English Schools and with Dr Claire Henderson Davis concerning Pilgrimage into Adult Life Project.

The Centre also supports and contributes to research initiatives at NICER, Canterbury Christ Church and other Cathedrals Group universities.

The Centre is happy to receive research interest and proposals from potential doctoral students.

For more information about any of these research initiatives please contact the Centre Director.

International Conference on Christianity, Education and Changing Contexts Centre for Christian Education

Liverpool Hope University,6-8 July 2018

The conference will contribute to further development of an international community of research and practice among scholars working in the field of Christian Education. It is important that scholars, church leaders and practitioners contributing to the field of Christian education have opportunities to come together to share their own experiences, research, challenges, reflections and hopes. The conference will provide an opportunity for delegates to contribute to dialogue on the theme of changing religious, socio-cultural, political and educational contexts facing Christian education today.

For full details, visit the International Conference on Christianity, Education and Changing Contexts Centre for Christian Education webpage.