OCRPL currently partners with the University of Pretoria in South Africa to offer joint doctoral programmes in which OCRPL provides seminars, mentoring and co-supervision with supervisors from the University of Pretoria. Other partnerships with reputable universities are being explored as OCRPL strives to broaden its network of institutions that offer credible academic theological qualifications.

Programme Details

Learning Style Online
Course Length Up to 5 years (part time)
Start Date Upon successful provisional admission to the university
Application Dates All year
Estimated Total Cost $8,750
Available Facilities Online Library
Extensive online resources at OCRPL and the University of Pretoria.

Call for Applications

The Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life (OCRPL) invites applications for PhD proposals in the following six fields:

  • Religion, Violence and Peace-making
  • Psychology and Neuroscience Ethics
  • Post-colonialism
  • Justice and Freedom
  • Developmental Issues
  • Science, Technology and Artificial Intelligence

The research may focus on broad areas that are related to the interface between religion and public life, especially in relation to Christianity. The research must be specific to particular geographical contexts with implications in any of these six fields. We welcome researchers who are keen and able to connect their subject specialisation with their faith. Other areas of interest that may not fit neatly into any of these themes, but are relevant to these topics in the domain of Religion and Public Life may also be considered.

OCRPL believes that religion can have a significant impact on the lives of people. The six fields have a significant bearing on human flourishing, which is an integral part of Christian transformation. However, very little work has been done in this interface in the Global South. We are specifically looking for candidates who can work in a cohort of five like-minded fellow researchers, from five countries of the Global South, one cohort working on each of these six themes. Thus we are looking for 30 researchers. While working individually, the members of these cohorts will help to foster a South-South conversation.

The primary university will be the University of Pretoria, but we are open to working with researchers from local universities of high standing in the candidates’ own countries on a case-by-case basis.


OCRPL’s distinctives include:

  • providing support and guidance to candidates in the process of applying for a post-graduate doctoral degree and taking the step up from master’s level work to making an original contribution to their field;
  • providing a community of peers doing research in allied fields to encourage, engage with and stimulate each other through the research process;
  • selecting a second supervisor from anywhere in the world who is particularly appropriate for the student’s research and who is theologically aligned with OCRPL’s statement of faith.

The goal of the OCRPL doctoral programme is to develop a group of scholars from, and in, the Global South to engage meaningfully with issues that are pertinent and relevant to their local contemporary contexts. The earned doctorate will qualify graduates to contribute to academic publications, teach at post-graduate level, supervise research and, most importantly, contribute new knowledge to their chosen field of involvement.

Who is this course designed for?

The typical student will be:

  • able to engage with current issues from the perspective of their Christian beliefs;
  • interested in a multi-cultural, international educational experience;
  • keen to engage in the public affairs of their respective contexts;
  • keen to contribute to their cultures positively;
  • interested in reducing the costs of an advanced degree while obtaining a validated degree from an internationally recognised university.

How is the course delivered?

Upon application, the student begins a process of developing capability in pursuing doctoral research that is based solely on a research thesis. There are no taught courses or examinations. The initial process includes an online workshop for three to four weeks on research methodologies and working on a research topic. During this period, which could take up to twelve months, each student will be provided with a supervisor and will develop a pre-proposal for the university to consider. The pre-proposal will demonstrate the student’s ability in formulating a detailed research question, in showing awareness of literature in the field, and in producing an appropriate methodology. This culminates in submitting a 25-page research proposal for consideration for full PhD researcher status.

Applicant Requirements for University of Pretoria

  • Students wishing to apply should have a minimum of a relevant master’s degree with a research component (e.g., completion of a master’s level dissertation), and a prior theological qualification(either undergraduate or postgraduate) from an accredited university or seminary recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). A theology MA with a research component recognised by SAQA fulfils both these requirements.
  • All students will have their qualifications evaluated by SAQA.
  • Students will need to obtain a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level of 9 to gain admission to a South African university. The NQF level 9 requires a master’s level qualification from a credible institution that is formally and fully accredited by the government authorities of the country in which that institution is based.
  • Students with qualifications from institutions not recognised by SAQA could be evaluated for eligibility based on Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
  • Student require an official recommendation letter from a sponsoring body such as their denomination or mission society.



The estimated fees for the entire programme is as follows:

  Tuition Fees
First Year $2,000
Second Year $2,125
Third Year $2,250
Fourth Year $2,375
Total $8,750

*Fees include SAQA payments, application fees, initial registration fees, and any international levies payable to the universities.

Studentship assistance

Candidates are expected and encouraged to source their own fees and expenses. Some gain assistance from their sponsoring institution (church or college); others apply to scholarship funding bodies. OCRPL is able to consider applications for scholarship support for part of the fees to deserving applicants from the Global South.