Academic Programmes » PhD in Theology (Postgraduate Research Degree)

Rationale of the programme

The growth and expansion of the Christian faith on the African Continent in the present century is one of the most remarkable events in the entire history of Christianity. Writing in an article published in 1970, the well-known editor of the World Christian Encyclopaedia (Nairobi: OUP, 1980), David Barett, stated that it was Africa that 'might well tip the scale and transform Christianity, permanently, into a non- Western religion' (Barrett, 'AD 2000- 350 million Christians in Africa' in the International Review of Mission, vol. LIX, no. 233, January, 1970:40).

In 1983, the renowned African Christian historian of World Christianity, Prof. Lamin Sanneh of Yale Divinity School, suggested that 'African Christianity may well have entered upon a universal vocation not dissimilar to that of Gentile Christianity in the early Christian centuries'. (Lamin Sanneh, West African Christianity- The Religious Impact, London: C. Hurst, 1983.)

Andrew Walls drew out the fullest implications of Barrett's observation by suggesting that "what happens within the African Churches in the next generation will determine the whole shape of church history for centuries to come. What sort of theology is most characteristic of the Christianity of the twenty-first century may well depend on what has happened in the minds of African Christians in the interim." ('Towards an understanding of Africa's place in Christian history' in J. S. Pobee (ed), Religion in a pluralistic society, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976, pp. 180-189.)

This global transformation of the Christian faith poses tremendous challenges for African Christianity. It means that African Christians and African Christian institutions are called upon not only to shoulder a significant portion of the burden of Christian witness in the world, but also to undergird such witness with the appropriate Christian scholarship in the interest of the Church's universal task in our time.
The curriculum for the Postgraduate Research Degrees (MTh in African Christianity, MTh in Bible Translation and Interpretation and PhD in Theology) has as its focus the study of the forms and traditions of African Christian life and thought that have emerged as a distinctive strand of Non-Western Christianity with the potential of contributing to world Christianity.

Requirements for admission

Candidates for the PhD must possess a research-based Masters degree in Theology or in Religious Studies from a recognised and accredited University.

Structure of Programme

All candidates for PhD who have not previously obtained the MTh in African Christianity or MTh in Bible Translation and Interpretation are required to take the postgraduate research degrees course work.

Integrating presentation

An additional assessment of research-based taught course participation at PhD level will be an integrating presentation made by each student before a panel of the Academic Board at the end of the second semester in the first year.

Research Methods
All PhD students who have not previously undertaken the Research Methods seminars are required to complete these non-examinable seminars in the first year of their degree.


A thesis shall be submitted not earlier than 39 months and not later than 72 months from the date of registration. Students are required to submit a thesis of around 100,000 words on an agreed topic at the end of the fourth year of the programme. A special requirement is that, apart from the regular abstract in English, students should submit also a one-page abstract of their dissertation in their mother tongue.

All PhD candidates will be encouraged to produce some articles in refereed journals out of the thesis work by the time they present the thesis for examination.
In addition, candidates will be examined orally on the substance of their thesis.