Institution / Pontifical University St Patricks College Maynooth
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Theological Studies

Higher Diploma in Theological Studies
This one-year part-time programme aims to give a foundation in Theological Studies to students who hold a primary degree in another discipline. It is recognised by the Department of Education and Skills as entitling teachers holding Department-recognised degrees and teacher-training qualifications to teach up to 15 hours’ Religious Education per week in a voluntary secondary school. Students who achieve a Second Class Honours Grade I or better may apply for admission to one of the Master in Theology programmes.

Entry requirements

Primary honours degree or equivalent. While the degree/qualification will normally be in a discipline other than Theology, consideration will be given to all applications.

*The Higher Diploma is recognised by the Department of Education and Skills as entitling teachers holding Department-recognised degrees and teacher-training qualifications to teach up to 15 hours’ Religious Education per week in a secondary school.


1 year, part time, evening course.

Monday: 6:30pm – 9:30 p.m.

Wednesday: 6:30pm – 9:30 p.m.

In addition to Monday and Wednesday lectures students must attend class on 6 Saturdays during the year:

2 Saturdays in Semester One, and 4 Saturdays in Semester Two. 10:00am – 4:00pm

The core courses (Systematic Theology, Moral Theology, Scripture, and

Foundations of Worship) will be taught on Monday and Wednesday evenings.

Further enquiries

Admissions Office,
Pontifical University, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare.
Telephone: 01-708 4772
Fax: 01-708 3441
Web site:

Subjects taught


Theology is “faith seeking understanding” (St. Anselm). In this introductory module we will explore this statement by asking such questions as: What is faith? How is the human person a seeker? How are faith and reason (understanding) connected? The etymology of the term “theology” has to do with “theos” (God) and “logos” (discourse). Hence theology is discourse about God. But it is also a discourse about the human person (anthropology) made in the image and likeness of God (“imago Dei”) and his or her call to communion with God (spirituality). Taking the ‘human person and his/her acts adequately considered’ as its cornerstone, the module seeks to develop a ‘Christian ethic within the contours sketched by dogmatic theology’ (G. Meilander and W. Werpehowski). The module, moreover, aims to present theology in an integrated way that reflects on the unity of faith and morality in the life of the Christian in the church. The importance of the Bible as a foundational source for Christian conversion and its connecting the drive to goodness and the call to holiness will also be explored.


Two modules are covered in Systematic Theology
Module 1: God, Revelation, Jesus Christ

•the search of humankind for God
•the search of God for humankind

•the Old Testament revelation of God
•the New Testament revelation of God in Christ and the Holy Spirit

From Revelation to Christology:

•The Passion, Death and Resurrection as the nucleus of New Testament Christology
•Great Christological Councils
•Jesus Crucified and Forsaken as the Face of God for Today

Suggested introductory Reading:
The Second Vatican Council, The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine
Revelation, Dei Verbum.
Gerald O’Collins, Christology, Oxford University Press, 1995.

Module 2: The Church and Its Sacraments
This module aims to introduce students to the theological understanding of the Church as it emerges in Scripture and as it unfolds in the course of history. Particular attention is given to the ecclesial vision of Vatican II and the work of contemporary theologians. The module also examines the sacraments of the Catholic tradition.

Suggested introductory reading:

Raymond Brown, The Churches the Apostles left behind, NY: Paulist Press, 1984

Francis O’Sullivan, The Church we believe in, NY: Paulist Press, 1988

Philippe Béguerie, and Claude Duchesneau, How to Understand the Sacraments, London: SCM Press, 1991.


Two modules are taught in Moral Theology

Module 1: Bioethics
– respect for life
– reproductive technologies
– euthanasia and the ‘right to die’
– the problem and use of embryonic stem cells
– bioethics and civil law

Module 2: Catholic Social Teaching
– is there a ‘common good’?
– what is social justice?
– natural law and human rights
– religion, morality and law
– morality and public policy
– morality in public life
-morality and ecology


Three modules are taught in Scripture

Module 1: The Bible and Its World

Indicative Syllabus:
•Which Bible? Texts and Canons
•The Geographical Context: From Fertile Crescent to Eastern Mediterranean
•The Historical Context: From Sumerian City States to the Roman Empire
•The religious Context: From Israelite Religion to Judaism
•Old Testament / Hebrew Bible: A Broad Survey
•New Testament: A Broad Survey
•Ways of Reading: An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics
•Ways of Telling: An Introduction to Biblical Narrative
•Reception of the Scriptures: The Bible in Western Art

Indicative Bibliography:

Barton, John, ed, The Biblical World, 2 vols, London: Routledge, 2002, [220,61 BAR]

Coogan, Michael, The Old Testament: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Mark Allan Powell, Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey Grand Rapids, Mich,: Baker Academic, 2009, [220,61 POW]

Module 2: The Old Testament

Indicative Syllabus:
•The Abraham Story: Call, Covenant and Akedah
•The Moses Story 1: Call, Revelation of the Divine Name and Passover
•The Moses Story 2: Exodus, Decalogue and Covenant
•The David Story: Anointing, Covenant, Sin and Forgiveness
•The Prophetic Legacy 1: Amos and Justice
•The Prophetic Legacy 2: Isaiah and Hopes for the Davidic Line
•The Prophetic Legacy 3: Jeremiah and the Fall of Jerusalem
•The Prophetic Legacy 4: Second-Isaiah and the Figure of the Servant
•Psalms: Original Contexts and Christian Rereading

Indicative Bibliography:

Boadt, L, Reading the Old Testament, New York: Paulist, 1984, [220,61 BOA]

Charpentier, E, How to Read the Old Testament, London: SCM, 1982.

Collins, JJ, A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998.

Module 3: The New Testament

Indicative Syllabus:
•Paul: Pastor and Letter Writer
•Galatians: Paul’s response to a Crisis Situation
•Romans: Paul the Theologian
•What is a Gospel? Mark’s Creative Writing
•Twenty-First Century Questions to First Century Gospels
•Parables and Riddles of the Kingdom
•Mark’s Passion Narrative
•Pontius Pilate: A Character in all Four Gospels
•The Miracles in the Gospel of Matthew


Why Liturgy?

This section will begin by exploring the questions: why celebrate? why do human persons need to ritualise? Some basic concepts from the disciplines of anthropology, ritual studies and liturgical studies will be introduced. Topics: What is human ritual? Its role in constructing a community of meaning. Myth, Symbol, Rite. Time and its experience. Space and Music. Ritual and Culture. Why do we celebrate?

1.Foundations in Religious Education / Catechetics

The first aim of the course is to provide an introduction to contemporary understandings of religious education. To this end, terms such as religious education, catechesis, religious formation, and religious instruction will be explored. Contemporary approaches to religious education will also be examined. Particular attention will be paid to how the core process of catechesis is understood today.

The second concern of the course is to propose foundations for a participatory and empowering approach to religious education: The Shared Christian Praxis Approach. Participants will be invited to use this approach as a rich resource for the teaching of religion in many contexts such as the secondary school.

2. Church History

•To introduce the key features of the early Christian Church
•To introduce the key themes, events, personalities and sources in the early Church
•To introduce the key features of the Early Modern Catholicism in Ireland
•To introduce students to key themes, events and personalities in the Catholic Church in Ireland 1500-1922

Indicative Syllabus:
•The birth of the ‘Jesus Movement’
•The expansion of Christianity in the early centuries
•The Councils of Jerusalem and Nicaea
•The Reformation and Counter Reformation in Ireland
•Interpretation of the 19th century experience of the Catholic Church.

3. World Religions

The aims of this module are to introduce students to a range of world religions; to equip them with a framework for analyzing other religions; to examine relationships between world religions; and to provide students with an entry point to further study of world religions.

This module will examine “Abrahamic” Religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), “Dharmic” Religions (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism), and Religions of East Asia.

4.Philosophy of Religion and Secular Belief Systems

The aim of this module is to use the resources of philosophy in order to think meaningfully about religion, and to critique secular belief systems.


Students will have the option of staying overnight in the college. Please check with the Maynooth Campus Conference and Accommodation Office to check rates and availability. They can be contacted as follows:

Maynooth Campus Conference and Accommodation Office
Telephone: 01-708-6200 / 708-3533
Fax: 01-708-3534
Web Page:

Assessment method

Coursework and Examination

All core courses will be assessed by means of either coursework or end of semester examination. Shorter modules are assessed by means of essay.

Application date

30th June. However late applications will be accepted. Please contact Admissions Office.

First-come, first-served basis (provided entry requirements have been met and application is complete and correct).

Course fee

Fee: 2015/2016 €3,350 (for Irish and other EU students)
* This course qualifies for tax relief.

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