Van Mildert Canon Professor of Divinity

Updated: over 4 years ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 05 Jan 2015

Reference Number
Durham City
Arts & Humanities
Theology and Religion
Grade 10
Position Type
Full Time
Contract Type
Closing Date
5 January 2015

Job Description

The Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University has a long-standing tradition of outstanding research and is widely recognized as one of the leading departments in its field. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise it was ranked first in the UK, while its teaching quality is shown in its consistently obtaining exceptionally high rankings in both National Student Surveys and independent league tables. Its strengths range across Biblical Studies (Old Testament, New Testament, ancient Judaism, and Biblical languages), Christian theology (Greek and Latin patristics, the history and theology of late antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Reformation era, doctrinal and philosophical theology, and theological ethics), and the study of religion (the anthropology, sociology and psychology of religion). It also has centres in Catholic Studies and Death and Life Studies. The Department has a welcoming and collegial atmosphere, and is beautifully sited between the Cathedral and the Castle on the World Heritage Site in the centre of the city of Durham.

The Van Mildert Canon Chair of Divinity dates back to the University’s foundation in 1832 and represents the historic and ongoing commitment by the University, the Department and the Cathedral to support academic theology at the highest level which is also engaged with the life of the Church. As such it takes its place alongside posts such as the Michael Ramsey Canon Chair in Anglican Studies (also currently advertised), the Bede Chair in Catholic Theology (currently held by Karen Kilby), the St Hilda Readership in Catholic Social Thought and Practice (currently held by Mark Hayes) and the Chair of Theology and Ministry (currently held by Mike Higton).

The post holder will combine an academic post in Christian theology with a residentiary canonry at Durham Cathedral. As such the post is only open to candidates ordained as priests in the Anglican Communion or of a church with which it is in full communion.

In recognition of the time commitments attendant on the canonry (nominally 20% of the post holder’s time), the post holder will not be asked to hold a major administrative post in the Department of Theology and Religion. The post holder is also provided a residence (for the better performance of duties) in The College at Durham.

Because the appointee will be a member of the Foundation of Durham Cathedral whose members are appointed by the Bishop of Durham, the appointment will need to be ratified by the Bishop before it is confirmed.


The post holder’s duties will be:

a) to conduct outstanding research leading to publications of international significance in the broad field of Christian theology. Applicants with expertise either in moral, philosophical and / or systematic theology, or in historical theology or Church history (especially the post-1700 period), would be particularly welcome;

b) to seek and secure competitive external grant funding to support his / her research, individual and collaborative;

c) for appointment as Professor, to provide wider academic leadership within the Department of Theology and Religion and, as appropriate, within the Faculty and University as a whole;

d) to teach undergraduates and postgraduates at all levels in the Department of Theology and Religion, including supervising research students, in line with the standard teaching load for a Professor in the Department;

e) to carry out other minor administrative duties within the Department as requested by the Head of Department from time to time. The post holder will not be asked to carry a major administrative portfolio or to serve as Head of Department;

f) to serve as a residentiary canon of Durham Cathedral, including membership of Chapter and other related meetings; taking a leading responsibility in the Cathedral’s role as a centre of theological learning, and its programme of adult Christian education; and such other minor responsibilities as may be agreed between the post holder and the Dean and Chapter from time to time;

The liturgical duties of a residentiary canon, which the post holder is asked to perform in recognition of the provision of housing, do not form a part of the formal calculation of the post’s workload. These duties will include regular Sunday and weekday eucharistic presidency and preaching, and the duties of Canon in Residence (up to two weeks at a time, up to ten weeks per year total), which include full participation in the daily offices.

The post holder will be responsible to the Head of the Department of Theology and Religion, and to the Dean of Durham in respect of his or her Cathedral duties. All parties should be aware of the activities being carried out by the post holder across the department and Cathedral.

Person Specification

Professors at Durham are expected to display excellence in research and in teaching, and to demonstrate leadership both within the University community and also externally in promoting the interests of the University.


• PhD in relevant subject area (E)
• An ordained priest in the Anglican Communion or in another church in full communion with the Church of England (E)


• A strong, sustained record of published academic output at international / world-leading levels of recognition (E)
• Demonstrable active and realistic research programme, including future publication plans in Christian theology and plans for attracting external research income (E)
• Demonstrable success in winning external research funding competitively (E)
• Demonstrable ability to engage in research leadership (E)
• Record of high achievement in teaching, demonstrated, for example, by student feedback and teaching awards etc.(E)
• Evidenced commitment to the mentoring and guiding of early-career academic staff (E)

Skills / Competencies

• Can demonstrate an active and realistic research programme, including future publication plans in Christian theology, a dissemination strategy to ensure high international impact, and plans for attracting external research income (E)
• The vision and ability to provide academic leadership in shaping the future of your discipline, within the international community and at Durham. (E)
• The vision and ability to provide academic leadership within the Department of Theology and Religion and the University (E)
• Excellent leadership skills, coupled with the drive and ability to make a significant contribution to your School/Department and broadly within the University. (E)
• Commitment to international research excellence, including potential to plan, lead and deliver collaborative projects. (E)
• Proven track record of successful post-graduate supervision. (E)
• An external profile such as membership of editorial boards or other equivalent bodies, offering expert legal advice, membership of policy-making bodies or review panels, advisory boards or funding councils.(E)
• Excellent communication skills, both oral and written, in both academic and non-academic contexts (E)
• In sympathy with the purpose and aims of Durham Cathedral (E)

Additional Information and Interview Date
This post is being advertised together with the Michael Ramsey Professor of Anglican Studies (Post Ref: 4172) and the appointments processes will run concurrently. Any applicants who wish to apply for both posts are welcome to do so. Separate applications should be submitted, although naturally the same material may be used for both. Candidates who apply for both posts may indicated an order of preference in their letters of application if they choose to do so.

Guidance for written application

1. It is essential that in your written application you give evidence of examples of proven experience in relation to the selection criteria.
2. Please include with your application a statement (of up to 1,000 words) of the research project(s) you aim to pursue in the next five years. Where relevant this should mention any potential impact you envisage your research having outside higher education. This material may be incorporated into your letter of application or included as a separate document.
3. You should include a sample of your recent scholarly writing (c. 5,000-7,000 words) with your application.

Please note that presentations are scheduled to take place on 22nd January 2015 and formal interviews on 23rd January 2015.

At interview, shortlisted candidates will be asked to give a 20-minute presentation on an aspect of their current or recent research to a mixed audience of academic staff and postgraduates from across the Department of Theology and Religion.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University.

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