Archive of the University of Manchester, Faculty of Theology

  • Reference
      GB 133 FTH
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      3 items There is evidence of water damage to two of the minute books.
  • Location
      Collection available at the University Archive and Records Centre, main John Rylands University Library.

Scope and Content

Minutes of the Board of the Faculty of Theology (including the Advisory Committee), 1904-1985. Board minutes 1985-1992 have not been located. It is not believed that any other Faculty records are extant.

Administrative / Biographical History

Faculty organization was introduced in 1903 with the creation of the independent University of Manchester. Initially, there were five faculties: arts, science, law, music and medicine. These were joined by theology and commerce in late 1903, followed by the Faculty of Technology in 1905, and a Faculty of Education in 1914.

The responsibilities of faculties for certain aspects of academic governance were recognized by the University charter of 1903, while their specific powers and responsibilities were defined by ordinances of the University. Faculties had responsibilities in the areas of admissions, curricula, examinations and the award of degrees. Each faculty was headed by a dean. The governing body of the faculty was a board, chaired by the dean, which included all academic members of faculty (originally, all academic members above the level of assistant lecturer). Boards were authorised to supervise teaching of subjects within their purview, and to oversee the welfare of students. They could recommend to Senate regulations for courses of study and the appointment of examiners. Faculty bureaucracy became more complex over time, with a number of standing sub-committees being set up. By the 1990s these might include: a library committee, a computing committee, a staff-student consultative committee, committees for postgraduate and undergraduate degrees, a research committee, and a dean's advisory committee. Generally, the smaller faculties, like Theology, did not have such committees.

The Faculty of Theology was established in December 1903, following the resolution of a long-running and contentious debate over whether theology should be taught as an academic subject at the University. The constitution of Owens College had not permitted the teaching of theology as an academic subject in recognition of a policy of strict neutrality over matters of religious observance and teaching . . However, by the early twentieth century, there was increasing demand for such teaching, particularly from the numerous theological colleges in the Manchester area (in 1903 there were eight such colleges). Students of the colleges attended the University as part of their courses, and were eligible to be examined by the University. The decision to offer teaching and degrees in theological subjects saw a more formal relationship develop between the University and the colleges. The University recognized teachers in the colleges to undertake teaching in theological subjects, provided their lectures were open to all students. An advisory board was also established with non-University academic experts to ensure that these conditions were observed.

The first theology students were admitted in the 1904/5 session. Training students studied for Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) degree. Certificates in Biblical Knowledge and Theology were introduced in 1906 and 1913 respectively. In the 1945/6 session a new ordinary degree of B.A. (Theol) was introduced, but this degree was administered by the Faculty of Arts until 1965. In 1958 a B.A. honours in Biblical Studies was introduced under the auspices of Arts. In 1972, a B.A. honours in theology was introduced, replacing the B.D., which became a wholly postgraduate degree. The M.A. (Theol) and diploma in pastoral theology were introduced in the 1960s.

Theology was one of the smaller faculties in the University; its student profile changed over the twentieth century with an increasing number of women students, and a decline in the proportion of students training for ordination (to around a third in the late 1970s). The Faculty comprised a number of small departments including Biblical criticism and exegesis, comparative religion, philosophy of religion, theological studies, ecclesiastical history, semitic languages and literatures and social and pastoral theology. In October 1992, the Faculty was dissolved and its departments were transferred to the supervision of the Faculty of Arts.

Access Information

Access conditions apply to parts of this collection; please consult the University Archivist for further information.

The archive contains personal data about living individuals, and readers are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 in their use of the material. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The John Rylands University Library (JRUL) holds the right to process such personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, the JRUL has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately, according to the Data Protection Principles.

Acquisition Information

The minute books were transferred to the University Archives by the School of Religions and Theology in 2004.

Conditions Governing Use

The archive is owned by the University of Manchester.

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH.

Appraisal Information

Collection has not been subject to appraisal.


Board minutes 1985-1992 will be transferred to the University Archives if located.

Related Material

The University of Manchester Archives is responsible for the official archival records of the University.

The Faculty of Arts archive (FAR/1) includes material relating to theology in the post-1992 period.

See the Reports of Council to Court 1905-1991 for the annual reports of the Faculty (UOP/2). The Vice-Chancellor's Archive (VCA) has files relating to the administration of the Faculty: VCA/7/182 (1935-1946), VCA/7/401 (1952-1971) and VCA/7/618 (1968-1979).