Lambeth Research Degrees in Theology - LRDT

The new face of The Archbishop’s Examination in Theology – AET

A flexible, supportive and affordable MPhil and PhD programme.




The LRDT programme is flexible in terms of study topics, research focus and timing of submission.

Any Topic

It is possible to undertake research in any area of theology and 24religious studies for an MPhil or a PhD within the LRDT. This is with the proviso that the Academic Board is able to appoint a suitably qualified supervisor. LRDT has no teaching staff of its own, but we recruit supervisors from throughout the British Isles. Arrangements for supervision reflect the standards and practices of the higher education sector.


As research gets under way the focus of study may change, sometimes in significant ways and new research training needs may become apparent. These matters are addressed through our regular contact with students and supervisors and an annual review process. An initial topic turns into a working title and finally a title for the thesis to be submitted. If new supervision arrangements are needed these are put in place, with the appointment of a new or additional supervisor.


Potential students can apply at any time during the year, although applications received during the year will only be processed annually in January, after the advertised closing date.  Prospective students should note that for a number of reasons there is a limit of approximately 30 students on the scheme at any one time.  Given that doctoral studies can typically take up to six years, it will be apparent that the number admitted on to the course, being dependent on the number graduating, will be in the low single figures each year. It is possible to study full-time or part-time. An initial period of probation lasts from three months to one year, depending on progress. After registration on the MPhil/PhD programme an MPhil is completed within four years and a PhD within six. The Academic Board has discretion to extend these time periods and also to authorise periods of intermission.




The LRDT supports students through supervision, research training and individual attention.


The primary support for LRDT students is provided by the supervisor. A student can have up to six supervision sessions each year. Supervisors are well qualified to advise students working on academic research to Masters and Doctoral levels, in the processes of research and thesis writing as well as in the relevant field of study.

Research Training

Supplementary support is provided by the LRDT Research Training Committee through events at Lambeth Palace. There is an induction event for new students, with an introduction to studying with LRDT and to basic research skills. There is also an annual student seminar event, usually in June, at which students make short presentations of their work, meet one another and exchange ideas. Students are invited to attend the LRDT annual education event which takes place on the occasion of the award of degrees by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Students are also encouraged to put their own local support networks in place and where appropriate to join a society which relates to their area of interest. These societies (such as the Society for the Study of Theology and the Ecclesiastical History Society) provide means for engaging with other post-graduate research students and established scholars, through conferences and a variety of online and social media networks.


The LRDT MPhil/PhD programme is limited to a maximum of thirty students. This means that support from the Academic Registrar and other LRDT officers is available on an individual basis. This allows the Academic Board to take each student’s individual circumstances into account as it monitors their progress at its termly meetings.

You may find it helpful to read the current Regulations governing the scheme.



The Office for Students (OfS)  which is responsible for regulating the Higher Education Sector in the United Kingdom, formally recognises the Archbishop’s Examination in Theology/Lambeth Research Degrees in Theology (AET/LRDT).

This recognition is recorded in a Memorandum of Understanding and an accompanying letter, both dated late March 2023, which set out in official language the agreement between the OfS and the AET/LRDT.

Whilst the degree-awarding powers of the Archbishop of Canterbury may differ in their origin and nature from those of most Higher Education institutions, students on the AET/LRDT may therefore be confident that the scheme has the official recognition of the UK Government.

Administrative enquiries from prospective applicants should be addressed to: 




The AET costs less than comparable programmes and financial support may be available.


For the period of probation £1300

For registration on the MPhil/PhD programme £250

Annual fee, chargeable from registration £1300

Examination fee £660

Other Costs

Students are responsible for all other costs of study, including travel, and attendance at student seminar events (which are charged at cost).

Financial Support

Many students are able to get financial help from diocesan or denominational sources, or from charities.  AET has a small amount available for bursaries in cases of need.

You may find it helpful to read the General Information Leaflet.




The closing date for applications for entry in the academic year 2025-26 will be Monday, 20 January 2025, by 5 pm (1700) UK time.  Electronic submissions are preferred.  Please email


LRDT Graduate's Book published by CUP

Dr Stephen Duckett’s thesis, for which he was awarded a Lambeth (LRDT) PhD in 2022r, was published in January 2023 by Cambridge University Press under the title Healthcare Funding and Christian Ethics.

LRDT introduces annual application deadline.

For the academic year 2023-24 and in all subsequent years, applicants for admission to the LRDT will need to apply by a closing date. The closing date for applications for entry in the academic year 2023-24 will be Friday, January 20th 2023, by 5 pm.  Electronic submissions are preferred.  Please contact

We have decided to introduce this procedure because of the success of the LRDT scheme, which attracts more applicants than we can now accommodate.  This represents a departure from the previous position in which we were able to process applications throughout the year.   We realise that this change will not be welcome to all but it will enable us to continue to ensure that the best applicants are accepted on to the scheme.


In September 2022 Lambeth (LRDT) PhDs were awarded on the basis of examination to DrStephen Duckett, whose thesis was entitled Healthcare Funding and Christian Ethics and to Peter Jones for his thesis, Es ist eine Frage der Begriffsbestimmung: A Study in the concept of the 'Whole Animal.'


On 01 April 2022 Sacristy Press published ‘Catholic Bishops of Hexham and Newcastle’ by Dr Paul Severn, who received his Lambeth PhD through the LRDT in 2019.  You can read more about the book here.



The graduates this year were Michael Hopkins and Paul Williams. The title of Michael’s thesis was An exploration of the lineage of the orthodox presbyterian tradition in England, with particular reference to the Presbyterian Church of England (1876-1972)’, in which Michael examined the history of one of the protestant nonconformist churches in England, now part of the United Reformed Church.  The title of Paul's thesis was 'Chasing the Lady: The Virgin Mary in Early Modern English Liturgical Texts, 1534-1563', in which Paul examined the doctrine and devotion of the Virgin Mary in the Missal and Book of Hours on the eve of the Reformation in England and then developed in public and private liturgical texts authorised by Henry VIII and his children: Edward, Mary and Elizabeth.'  


Two streams run through the Western philosophical tradition: one characterized by Being, beings, the unchanging, the static, and the unitary; and the other by Action, actions, the changing, the dynamic, and the diverse. The book explores the 'Action' stream as it has wound its way through history, and enables us to create the beginnings of an 'actology': a way of seeing ourselves, the universe, and God, in terms of actions in patterns rather than as beings that change.

You can find out more about the book, published in August 2020, on the publisher’s website.


History has not been kind to Bishop Symon Patrick (1626-1707). His fifty years of ministry spanned the closing years of Cromwell’s rule and the start of Queen Anne’s reign, and ranged from service as a Church of England minister in the fashionable London parish of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, to appointment as the 'Latitudinarian' Bishop of Ely.  Recognised by his contemporaries as one of the three or four leading clergy of his generation, he wrote over one hundred books, that helped to define the Established Church as it moved from a confrontational fundamentalism to the broad tolerance that exists today.  This book assesses the significance and quality of Patrick’s contribution to the Church of England, carefully placing it against the background of the history and politics of the time.  It was reviewed in the Church Times on 09 August 2019.



Henri Nouwen is internationally acclaimed as one of the most beloved and important spiritual writers of the second half of the twentieth century, yet little has been written on Nouwen’s own mentors, especially on those who influenced him the most: Thomas Merton, Vincent Van Gogh, Jean Vanier and Rembrandt Van Rijn. Nouwen encountered Merton in May, 1967. He began to learn about the art and writing of Van Gogh in 1975. He met Vanier in 1981. The painting of the Prodigal Son Nouwen came across in 1983.

Touched by God's Spirit brings these four masters of the spiritual life together and their significant contribution, notably, to compassionate Christian living as expressed by Nouwen is studied in depth.

You can read Mark Oakley's review of the book in the Church Times here.



On Monday 24 September 2018 Bishop John Inge, Chair of the Council of the Archbishop’s Examination in Theology/Lambeth Research Degrees in Theology, conferred degrees, on behalf of the Archbisop, on two students who had undertaken original research, submitted theses which were examined both internally and externally, and had defended them in further viva voce examinations.

The Reverend Dr Nick Fisher received the degree of PhD for his thesis entitled, ‘Symon Patrick (1626-1707) and his contribution to the post-1660 Restored Church of England’. 

The Reverend Dr Malcolm Torry received the degree of MPhil for his thesis entitled, ‘Action, change and diversity in the Western philosophical tradition: Towards an ‘action’ metaphysic as a basis for Christian apologetics’

Before the degree ceremony, the annual AET Education Day Lecture was given to a diverse audience of bishops’ nominees by Professor Allan Anderson BTh, MA, MTh, DTh, Professor of Mission and Pentecostal Studies in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham.  Professor Anderson spoke on ‘The Holy Spirit in an African Spirit-Filled World’. His talk was followed by a lively session of questions and answers from his enthusiastic hearers.




The Council of the Archbishop’s Examination in Theology (AET) have decided to adopt a new ‘brand’ for the scheme.  It will henceforth be referred to as Lambeth Research Degrees in Theology (LRDT).  This change is being made to emphasise the research nature of these postgraduate degrees and to introduce the word Lambeth.  Those receiving these degrees have always been entitled to use the postnominal titles MPhil (Lambeth) or PhD (Lambeth) but their link to the AET seemed insufficiently clear. The Council hope that this change will also emphasise the fact that the standing of these Lambeth postgraduate degrees by research, thesis and examination is equal to those from the best universities in the country.  The Archbishop’s Examination in Theology (AET) remains the legal name of the scheme, as registered with the Charity Commission and other regulatory bodies, whilst Lambeth Research Degrees in Theology (LRDT) becomes the new ‘trading name’.  This change of name has no impact on the high status of these Lambeth research degrees, past or future.



The following statement was received from the Lambeth Diploma Association, who generously agreed that, with the winding up of the LDA in 2014, the residual funds of the Association, when all obligations had been met, should be disbursed for the benefit of theological education. The residual finds were accordingly transferred to the AET for such disbursement.

The Lambeth Diploma Association (LDA) was formed as the organisation for alumni of the Archbishop’s Examination in Theology (AET), originally holders of the Diploma. Following discussion at the Lambeth Diploma Association AGM, the Committee was charged with assessing and making a final decision on the future of the Association. This move was prompted by the following circumstances: numbers attending meetings had dwindled over many years; the interest members undoubtedly felt in the Association had become largely passive, with little response to newsletters and appeals for views on the Association; changes in the Degree programme meant that fresh membership was unlikely to be attracted to this organisation. For all these reasons, it appeared that the Association lacked the critical mass to survive actively, owing to members’ other priorities or infirmity. Those present at the Committee meeting, supported by those unable to attend, voted with regret to draw the Association to a close.

  A closure meeting at Lambeth Palace took place on 26 February 2016 to receive the Accounts, and the Minutes of the last AGM and Committee Meeting of the Association. In ratifying the Committee’s decision to close, those present at this meeting wished to affirm the following on behalf of members of the Association:

  • All award holders, as alumni of the AET, value their qualifications and are grateful for the opportunities that these qualifications have provided for personal study and development, and service to education and ministry. None of these benefits to themselves or to the Church is diminished by the demise of the Association.
  • They have appreciated the fellowship of the LDA, and the encouragement and hospitality provided by Lambeth Palace.
  • At its inception in 1905, the Lambeth Diploma met the unprecedented challenge of providing women with the qualifications to enable them to teach Religious Education. Holders of the Diploma and the more recent MA are pleased to see that the tradition of meeting the educational challenges facing the Church continues in the provision of the latest AET Degree programme, and they pray for its success and the benefit it will bring to individuals and to the Church.

May 2017.

2016 AET PhD Awarded

On Friday 02 September 2016 Archbishop Justin conferred the degree of PhD on Dr Paul Severn, for his thesis entitled, ‘The Christology of St Anthony of Padua’. In his thesis Paul demonstrates that, although the Christological thought of St Anthony of Padua is deeply embedded in the traditions of medieval scholarship, in the modern era his work - and particularly his integrative theological method - have gained renewed respect. 

2015 Three AET PhD degrees awarded

Archbishop Justin Welby presented PhD degrees to the Revd Robert Chapman, the Revd Lyndon Shakespeare and the Revd Antony Hodgson at a ceremony in Lambeth Palace Chapel on 8th September, 2015. Robert Chapman’s doctoral thesis was entitled, ‘Eucharistic Sacrifice as missionary gift in Mission-shaped Church’, Lyndon Shakepeare’s ‘The Material Body and the Managed Church: A Thomistic Vision of the Church in the Age of Organization’ and Antony Hodgson’s ‘The origins and evolution of suffragan bishops in the Church of England: A historical perspective’.

2014 The Archbishop awards two AET PhD degrees

The Rt Revd John Inge, chairman of the AET Council, on behalf of Archbishop Justin, presented AET PhD degrees to the Revd James Wellington and Fr. Luke Penkett at a ceremony in Lambeth Palace Chapel on 9th October, 2014. James Wellington’s doctoral thesis was entitled, ‘Christe Eleison! The Invocation of Christ in Eastern Monastic Psalmody c.350-c.450’ and Luke Penkett’s ‘Finding One Another in Christ: Ecumenism in the Life and Writing of Henri J. M. Nouwen’

2014 Lecture on God’s Involvement with Evil

Les Oglesby (AET PhD 2012) gave a lecture entitled, ‘God’s Involvement with Evil: Jung and Balthasar – A Dialogue’ to the Guild of Pastoral Psychology, London, in November, 2014, exploring Jung’s and Balthasar’s approaches to the reality of evil, to the question of evil in relation to the Trinity and to how each man understood the Cross providing insights about God and evil. The lecture has been published as a Guild Paper (No. 317, January, 2015).

2014 Article published: C. G. Jung and Karl Stern

Les Oglesby (AET PhD 2012) has published an article which offers a commentary on a recently discovered letter from Jung to Karl Stern. Jung’s hopes for a fruitful dialogue with Stern are based more in Jung’s own long-term desire for dialogue with theology than in Stern’s use of Jung in his own version of a Freudian approach to psychoanalysis. Nevertheless, there is common ground in a shared sense that this is an ‘imperilled age’. The possibilities for dialogue are set within a heuristic frame that reads Stern’s Christian personalism as a contextualising theology and Jung’s dialectical psychology as a reinterpretative project in relation to theology. This facilitates a discussion of the issues of metaphysics and psychology, teleology, and analogy. Whatever mutual benefit they might have derived from these areas of dialogue, their journey together might well have foundered once Jung’s own theological commitments had become clear.

(‘Could C. G. Jung and Karl Stern “go a stretch together … with mutual profit“?’ InInternational Journal of Jungian Studies, 6(3), pp. 189-204, October, 2014, )

2014 Book publication: Christe Eleison

James Wellington (AET PhD 2014) has published Christe Eleison! The Invocation of Christ in Eastern Monastic Psalmody c.350-c.450 (Peter Lang). For centuries the Jesus Prayer has been leading Orthodox Christians beyond the language of liturgy and the representations of iconography into the wordless, imageless stillness of the mystery of God. In more recent years it has been helping a growing number of Western Christians to find a deeper relationship with God through the continual rhythmic repetition of a short prayer which, by general agreement, first emerged from the desert spirituality of early monasticism. In this study James Wellington explores the understanding and practice of the psalmody which underpinned this spirituality. By means of an investigation of the importance of psalmody in desert monasticism, an exploration of the influence of Evagrius of Pontus and a thorough examination of selected psalm-commentaries in circulation in the East at this time, he reveals a monastic culture which was particularly conducive to the emergence of a Christ-centred invocatory prayer.

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