For many people, receiving a first class theological education means moving away from your church to study at University or Bible College. As well as (for many) being prohibitively expensive, campus based study often removes the student from the practice and reality of church life. For the budding student, the call to ministry will often come in a season of life when the upheaval of moving away would be a struggle. From a church leader’s perspective, we are delighted when our folk take a serious interest in Bible College, but we are also aware that we’ll lose an able member of our churches if they move away.

In a nutshell, Union seeks to address these concerns by bringing Bible College and local church back together.

What is Union?

Oxford based Union School of Theology has created a new delivery method through ‘Union Learning Communities’. Learning Communities are local outposts working alongside Union’s main campus in South Wales and Research Centre in Oxford to deliver world class theological education through the local church. You will learn from leading scholars and pastors such as Prof. Robert Letham, Prof. Michael Reeves, Prof. Ray Ortland, Glen Scrivener, Lee Gatis and Steffan Jenkin. Removing the need for upheaval and significantly reducing the cost of study makes seminary-level training more accessible than ever before.

How does it work?

Union’s world class faculty will be streamed in to the Local Church classroom via specially recorded classroom sessions ensuring that community based students get the same content as campus students, but in a format which works really well remotely. Each Community Classroom is overseen by a local mentor acting as a supervisor and pastor to the students. Bringing the distance learning students together into classrooms helps to recreate the peer interaction of the campus which will enhance their studies and experience. Their coursework and academic support will still be handled by the Campus staff and given the same level of attention as Campus students. Assessments are all marked and accredited by the academic staff in South Wales and formally accredited by the Open University. You will have access to the faculty via the web, Skype or phone and full access to the Union Online Library.

Worthing Tabernacle is hosting one of these Learning Communities offering the GDip course. We have a lively and diverse classroom, and we’d love you to join. The 2020 intake of students will join with our current cohort to study Old and New Testament, Church & Mission and a choice of Greek, Hebrew or English exegesis. Students must register online via UST admissions.

What would be expected of the student?

This is an accredited course (awards and degrees validated by the Open University), so there is a financial cost to studying with Union. Courses take two academic years to complete, and cost £3,300 each year, which is significantly less than the cost of a campus based post graduate degree and cheaper than most other distance learning offerings. There is also the option of taking the course unaccredited for those without a first degree.

Secondly students would need to be available to come to our Union Classroom here at Worthing Tabernacle, each Monday during term time. The beauty of the Learning Community is that students are still able to study in a group setting - even though they are studying at a distance. As well as the time in the classroom Students will be expected to put in another 15 hours or so of private study each week in order to cover the course material. Students therefore will have to be motivated, and good at time management.

How can I find out more?

We appreciate that you may have many questions, and want to know more. If you, or anyone in your church would like to know more about Union please go to, or for more information on our Worthing Learning Community please email us at - we would love to talk to you about the possibility of you learning with us. 

Admissions Enquiries can be made via this form