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Diploma in Third Age Mission and Ministry

In an ageing population, effective and creative work with older people is becoming an urgent need of our time, and thoughtful reflection on the nature of Christian ministry with elderly people is especially needed. The Third Age Mission and Ministry diploma is a two-year part-time and distance learning undergraduate diploma directed at those working with older people whether through Church events, pastoral visitation, weekday clubs, care homes or social centres. The teaching is delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars, workshops, group tutorials and individual learning. 

As with the other three other diplomas we offer, students on the course will find it stretching and very affirming of the work they are doing, whether professionally or on a voluntary basis.  This course provides unique training in work with older people, with the Cliff emphasis on mission and ministry. It aims to produce ‘reflective practitioners', students who are rooted in ministry but have reflected biblically, theologically and culturally on the issues surrounding that ministry. 

Using current experience with older people as the student placement, and assessed by assignments and a focused optional research project, the course covers the following areas (units): 

  • The Third Age Ministry Context: Biblical and Contemporary
  • Third Age Culture: Issues Facing Older People
  • The Third Age Worker: Personal and Professional Development
  • Reaching Older People: Mission Theology
  • Older People: Spirituality and Church
  • Research Project (optional)
  • Schools Mission and Ministry (optional)

Newly introduced in 2013-14 is the new optional teaching unit focussed on Schools Mission and Ministry, resourced by Cliff College and our partners Youth for Christ. This gives students involved in any Christian ministry in the primary and secondary education sector further skills and theological resources for that work. Students can opt for this unit, or the Research Project unit. More details on application.

The teaching is delivered through five individual residential teaching weeks (MonFri) spread over the wo years (three in year 1, two in year 2), supported by supervised distance learning. In addition to the optional research project of 6,000 words which is delivered at the end of the course, a variety of assignments are set for completion between each teaching week.

This course, as with all our undergraduate courses, is validated by The University of Manchester and provides unique training in mission and ministry amongst older people. The Programme Leader is Ian White MA PGDip, who manages the part time vocational mission and ministry courses at Cliff College. Teaching is provided by members of the Cliff College teaching staff, plus a variety of experts in the field including input by our partners Methodist Homes for the Aged and the Outlook Trust. We are grateful to The Plough Publishing House for published materials donated to the course.

There is a limited number of places available per year on this popular course. If you are interested in applying, please download:

Or, should you wish it to be sent by mail, please contact the course administrator for an application form and prospectus.


Entry requirements for all Part Time HE Diploma courses

As a college within a long tradition of Christian faith and practice, many of the courses at the college involve students in the practical outworking of the Christian faith. This applies particularly to those undertaking courses in the BA in Mission and Ministry programme. Most units represent an academic exploration of Christian mission and ministry applied to work amongst children, young people, those in their third age, or within the creative arts. Some units involve working within Christian Churches and centre on the practice of Christian worship. Therefore, while candidates who do not profess Christian faith are not excluded from this course, all applicants should be aware of the overall context of the course and the college. Evidence of academic potential and ability to profit from study is essential. Potential is assessed through references and a face to face, telephone or Skype interview with the Programme Leader. As with all courses in the vocational programme, students will need to have contact time with their client group or target audience, normally for at least 50 hours per year.

Prospective students will either:

  • have completed the Cliff College Certificate in Theology (validated by the University of Manchester at Level 4) within the last five years, or
  • have completed equivalent courses of study (Level 4) within the last five years, or
  • have significant experience in the relevant field and focus of the diploma course. Students will be required to complete and submit an APEL (Accredited Prior Experiential Learning) form in support of their application in this case. The complete year, i.e., a total of 120 credits at Level 4 can be achieved this way.

Most of the accommodation on the undergraduate and postgraduate part-time courses is focussed within the newly refurbished Broadbelt / Eagles building, using the William Davies lecture room as the teaching centre. The refurbished rooms (single, double and family sized) are all en-suite, are Wifi connected, contain a hospitality tray and towelling, and have their own TV. Larger rooms also have additional seating areas. The lounge coffee bar area is already being well used by students, and the roof terrace opens shortly. The William Davies lecture room is specifically designed with the latest academic technology, is well lit, and can seat up to 30 students. The lower floor of the building is wheelchair accessible for both accommodation and teaching.    


For further information on any of our undergraduate courses, please contact the Academic Registrar ( / 01246 584202).

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