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Online Practical Theology Short Courses
Trinity College Glasgow & Theology & Religious Studies, University of Glasgow


Further Information


Mark Johnston is a Lecturer at the Dept of Theology and Religious Studies. He is an ordained Minister, having served in both the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and the Church of Scotland. For the past decade he has worked as a theological educator and ministry trainer for the Knox Centre of Ministry and Leadership, NZ, forming students for ordained ministry, and offering workshops in the wider church. He is a lover of the outdoors, curious about history and cultures and enjoys a good conversation over a beer.

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Graeme Wilson is an ordained Minister in the Church of Scotland. He has been the Minister of Bearsden Cross Church in the NW of Glasgow since 2013 and for 7 years before that in Galston, East Ayrshire. Prior to his calling to the Ministry in 2000, he was a banker in London for 15 years. His doctoral thesis (DMin, 2018) reflected upon ‘Eldership and Discipleship in the Church of Scotland’ and argued that discipleship could be a key focus for the Eldership to reclaim something of its spiritual role within the Church of Scotland, and for the wider membership to grow in faith and service. He is a keen golfer (though golf isn’t always so keen on him!) and a supporter of the ‘Honest Men’ of Ayr United.

Course Description

This course explores the role of local leadership in the Church of Scotland and other Reformed churches. It examines how changed circumstances and the mission calling of the church might reshape the calling and tasks of elders and local leaders in the congregation, and what this looks like, especially in the midst of difficult church change. It will engage participants in reflecting on their own experience and calling and introduce approaches and tools to enhance their contribution in their local setting.

This is an open access course available as a 10-credit course (accredited by the University of Glasgow) or audit-only for those who just wish to engage with the learning programme for their own personal benefit.

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Timetable & Duration

February 1st - March 21st, 2024 

This course will take place online on Thursday evenings, 7.00pm-9.00pm. This course will be taught over 8 weeks via online real-time meetings & instruction and preparation between classes.


Introduction to the course

So much is changing, at societal, global and of course church levels. This course offers elders and other leaders an opportunity to explore the role and calling to lead in local presbyterian and reformed church settings, and unpack some of the confusion and difficulties that arises with fresh demands. We won’t claim to offer all the answers, but we do think there are ways of clarifying roles and responsibilities through interpreting the present and recasting potential for the future. This includes sharing learning and experiences with each other.

Along with this, you will be introduce to some practical frameworks and skills that we all need for the time we are living in, particularly around change. This will be introductory given the short course nature but will point you to resources and other opportunities for learning.

This course aims to:

  • Involve participants in reflecting upon the meaning and role of elders and local leaders, and their own calling in changed circumstances for the church in contemporary Scotland.

  • Develop a deeper awareness of Reformed theology and practice as background to local church leader patterns. 

  • Increase understanding of the role of local leaders in revitalising the church’s mission, worship and discipleship.

  • Grow skills in understanding and negotiating church change.

By the end of this course participants will be able to:

  • Identify some key challenges to the inherited practices of local church leadership and eldership. 

  • Assess the difference between an institutional and a missional understanding of the church.

  • Identify a necessary change relevant to their own church circumstances and a potential strategy for responding to this.

Course information

This course is conducted online. The directed online instruction will be explored in weekly real-time conversations along with materials and interaction using the learning platform Moodle. Zoom as an online meeting tool will be used for the real-time conversations and online group times. Access to these tools will be supported by the course administration. More information about the use of these will be provided once enrolled.

Learners may choose to undertake assessments, and thus qualify for 10 credit points towards a Higher Education certificate or Glasgow University approved theology programme, or may engage with the learning programme for their own personal benefit without the final assessments. 

If you take the course for credit, the formal assessment for this course consists of the following:

  • 800 words written reflection on local case study(40%)

  • 1200 words portfolio (60%)



*Priority Area subsidy available for this course. Please contact for more information.

Funds or subsidies may also be available through your own church for training or study purposes and we encourage you to approach them with the details of the course.

Closing date

The last date for applications is Friday the 8th of December 2023.

How to Apply


Formal Applications open Autumn 2023. Notify your interest now via email:


These courses are delivered through the University of Glasgow. We will contact you with more information and guidance regarding applying, completing your details and payment in time for the course start date. If you have any questions regarding the process, you can contact us on the above email address. 

If you have any difficulties with this process – please contact Heather (office administrator) at:

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