Distance learning: Putting the practice back into theory

Further studies such as Masters and Doctorate degrees are often completed part-time in order to accommodate an already busy life and career. But distance learning can also allow students the opportunity to concurrently put the theory they are researching into practice. Franciscan Sister Minoress Patricia Jordan is a case in point. While completing her Doctoral research into Franciscan solitude at the Greenwich School of Theology, she chose to stay in full time ministry at the convent of St Clare in Derbyshire and oversee the building of a Portiuncula.

This Franciscan retreat, which was recently nominated for an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects, is based on the Portiuncula in Assisi where the Franciscan movement started and contains five hermitages that practically reflect its principles of simplicity and contemplative prayer.“I wanted sound and rigorous biblical and Franciscan research to find expression in a new building that would meet the spiritual needs of twenty-first century Christians,” explains Sr Patricia, Novice Mistress and Director of Formation at St Clare. “I had to find a way forward that would suit my present commitments and yet allow something new to emerge both theoretically and practically. Greenwich School of Theology gave me the support I needed to translate my dream into reality.

I remained in full time ministry and managed to study at a pace that suited my needs.” This Portiuncula with its eco-friendly features and beautiful views over the Derbyshire countryside was not the only result of Sr Patricia’s research – she has also written two books, recently published by Gracewing Publications: An Affair of the Heart and Come Apart and Rest a While.

“It would not have been possible for me to complete study at this depth if residential weeks or weekends were required,” notes Sr Patricia, who has now added the role of Director of the Portiuncula to her many achievements.

Patricia Jordan
I received speedy and wise advice from my Promoters, Profs Rees and Du Plooy.

Throughout the three years of my full time research for my PhD I was faciliated in every way by both the Administrative Staff at GST(UK) and the North West University, South Africa. I received speedy and wise advice from my Promoters, Profs Rees and Du Plooy. Both men offered me scholarly guidance and patient help and nothing seemed to be a nuisance to them. They encouraged me and when my research was going off course they told me so! I came to respect and admire them, both as academics and Christian gentlemen.

The UK and South African Administrative Staff were excellent too. I never had to wait too long for advice. The whole experince of working with GST(UK) and the North West University proved to be enjoyable and profitable while, at the same time, very demanding. I can and will recommend the GST/NWU to anyone desirous of higher theological education.

Joseph FellPhD 2013
Equivalent to a regionally accredited degree from a higher educational institution in the United States

I just received official documentation from World Education Services (WES) that my PhD from North-West University, a nationally accredited degree, is equivalent to a regionally accredited degree from a higher educational institution in the United States. The news is really great not only for me but also for both Greenwich School of Theology and NWU.

I want to encourage GST and NWU to be listed on WES as a world-wide institution of higher education at http://www.wes.org/ In so doing, you may attract students not only from the USA but all around the world.

Please share the news with the faculty and staff at GST and my spiritual brothers and sisters in South Africa.

Best Regards,

Timothy LentPhD (2010)
My experience with GST/NWU has been very gratifying and rewarding

My experience with GST/NWU has been very gratifying and rewarding. While the work required was demanding, my supervisors guided me through the entire process, not only providing me excellent academic assistance but also meaningful personal support and encouragement. The British system of supervised research is tailor-made to the needs of self-motivated pastors and interested others who wish to pursue higher academic credentials granted by an accredited university. I highly recommend the GST/NWU program.

The degree is actually granted by North-West University (South Africa). This university has 60,000 students on three campuses. Also they have an excellent library and many journals (many digitalized) that students can access for their research. This is important.

The demands were quite high but not overly so in my opinion. I originally submitted my doctoral thesis over one year ago and I was sent back to the “drawing board” to do another year’s work. My thesis ended up at 160,000 words, which of course is much longer than required but I wanted to write more than is required.

The people I worked with, both in England and South Africa were friendly and helpful. I recommend the program.


Rev Martin M DavisRector, All Nations Anglican ChurchJackson, MS (USA)
This is a great program!

I am currently in my 3rd year at Greenwich School of Theology and am more excited than ever. This is a great program!


I couldn’t have completed this work without your help

My dissertation has been accepted (revised for book style) for publication by McMaster Divinity College Press here in Canada. McMaster Divinity College is the theological school of a major Canadian university. The final contract has not yet been signed, but the document is being drawn up, and the book proposal has been accepted. You will, of course, be featured in the acknowledgements, since I couldn’t have completed this work without your help

Thanks again for all your help.


Steve WestPhD (2011)


I will strongly recommend the GST/NWU programmes to everyone

My first GST/NWU contacts were with Peg Evans of GST and Tienie Buys of NWU, who shared with me all necessary information about my PhD program in theo… Read more

Morten Bosterud

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All doctoral theology degrees are conferred by The Theological University of Apeldoorn (TUA), an accredited institution.