Meet Some of our Phd cohort

Meet some of our PhD cohort 

Our PhD cohort comes from different walks of life. We recently asked them to introduce themselves, by answering the following questions 

Who are you and what you do when you are not studying with UTU? 

 What brought you to UTU? 

 What you think is distinctive about learning with UTU. 


Paul Fitzpatrick 

Study and life mesh together.  I am involved in the activities of the Doncaster Conversation Club.  Despite being a retired teacher, I have found myself involved in teaching English to people seeking international protection, and I edit the monthly newsletter. 

 I have known of UTU since approximately 1980, as a student of theology living in London, but I never visited until 2015.  I was looking for an opportunity to extend my understanding of theology, particularly in relation to my more recent experiences and involvements. 

 It provides a challenging environment for thinking about ‘the church’ (whoever that means) in contemporary Britain, and I still seek to engage with that. 


Sue Burchell 

 I am Vicar of St Leonard’s Church in Banbury. 

 I did an MA at St Philip’s Centre, Leicester, and after I had finished that, I attended St Philip’s Centre AGM the following year. Ian Duffield (our Director of Research) spoke on Contextual Theology at the meeting. I chatted to Ian about my thoughts on doing some research, and he invited me to meet up with him in Sheffield. This I did, and I also looked at doing a professional doctorate at the University of Chester. However, I decided I preferred the UTU way of working and never looked back! 

 What I think is distinctive about UTU is the collegiate model of the seminar groups, and the mutual support, and also the way that the thesis grows organically from the pieces of work you’ve written for supervision over the years of study. 


Mike Gillingham 

 Until I retired, I was the Rector of a relatively large outer, suburban parish in South-East Sheffield.  

In 1983, I returned to full-time parochial ministry where I met Dr Ian Duffield who was a colleague on the same team and was recruiting for a course in “Urban Ministry” at UTU. I found the course stimulating and enjoyed the company of the other students and fellowship with the staff. I got “bitten by the UTU bug” and attended other courses and Summer Schools, sometimes presenting papers.  

When retirement presented the time to do a PhD, UTU was the only real option. The collaborative style of teaching and learning and peer support are excellent.  Studying at UTU means you’re part of a supportive community. The tutors are more like friends and only a phone call away, if you need help and my research has benefitted. 

Kevin Ellis 

I am the Vicar of Bro Eleth on the Island of Anglesey, and live in Amlwch, the most northerly town in Wales. 

I grew up in Sheffield, and have known about UTU for a good while, and was encouraged to read some of the work of John Vincent by Chris Rowland, who was then a Professor at Oxford. He also examined my first PhD, which probably points to my eccentricity to be engaged in another. 

UTU was not the only option on the table, but I was attracted by learning together with others, its deep commitment to the contextual and its honest record of engaging with theologies of liberation. I have not yet been disappointed. 

Terry Drummond 

 Retired, Anglican lay minister ordained as a Distinctive Deacon in 2016 

I was introduced to UTU in 1972, when as Church Army Student I was on work placement in Pitsmoor, in Sheffield. I met with John Vincent and was rescued from a very dire placement through the friendship that John and Grace offered me, a relationship that has lasted to the present day. 

The opportunity to explore the themes and issues that are key to my research with a disciplined support structure built on friendship and critical support. 



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