Contemplation, Mental Wellness and Christian Faith-Communities (PhD Scholarship)


Contemplation, Mental Wellness and Christian Faith-Communities (PhD Scholarship)

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship funded by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS 2 East ) scheme intended to start 1st February 2020. The project will be based in the Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts, University of Wales Trinity Saint David (Lampeter Campus) in collaboration with St Padarn’s Institute, Church in Wales.

Duration: 3 years

Funding Amount: UK/EU tuition fees plus stipend (£14,483p.a)

Regions: EU (Non UK), UK

Project Details:

In recent years, a sharp rise in people reporting poor mental health has provoked a wider conversation about the various conditions necessary for the flourishing of mental wellness – material, social, biological and spiritual. This project explores the contribution that the Christian tradition might make toward a holistic and non-reductive approach to mental wellbeing.

The project will focus on the practice of contemplation within the theological, moral, and spiritual traditions of Christianity. It will analyse the insights and/or challenges that these traditions bring to contemporary theories of mental wellbeing and will assess the place of this practice in nurturing wholesome mental habits. Proposals may place the Christian tradition in conversation with relevant research from other disciplines, but all projects should aim to enrich Christian reflection on the matter of mental wellness and to provide church leaders with guidance that will support responsible pastoral practices.

Under the supervision of UWTSD faculty, the PhD student will work in conjunction with St Padarn’s Institute, a Cardiff-based charity that provides support for the Church in Wales. Training in theology and pastoral care is the core activity of St Padarn’s Institute, providing an ideal institutional setting for research of this kind.

The primary research question is:

  • ‘How might Christian theologies of contemplation enrich contemporary theories and practices surrounding mental wellness?’

The following work will be undertaken within the proposed project:

  • Conduct research into the relevant aspects of theology and practice within the Christian contemplative tradition.
  • Analysis of key texts and their theoretical frameworks for relating habits of faith to mental health.
  • Place Christian theology into conversation with relevant contemporary research on mental wellbeing in companion disciplines across the sciences and humanities.
  • Assess current practices of pastoral care for those struggling with mental health.
  • Provide recommendations, consistent with the values of the Church in Wales, for a coherent pastoral response to the matter of mental wellbeing.

Expected Outputs:

  • This research will provide tradition-specific guidance to the contemporary challenge of mental wellness.
  • It will increase St Padarn’s capacity in a core area, and will serve leaders within the church by providing education on a matter of wide-spread interest.
  • It will provide analysis of contemporary literature to ministers and promote best practice in pastoral care, assisting the church to extend their impact among those struggling with mental wellness.
  • It will solicit wider participation and interest in this area, increasing involvement from a key religious organisation in the third sector.

Funding: Funded by KESS East. Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for East Wales.

This studentship consists of full UK/EU tuition fees at UK/EU rate, as well as a tax-free Doctoral stipend starting at £14,483 p.a. for 2019/20.

Each scholarship has an additional budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training to support your research. KESS PhD Scholarship holders do not pay fees.

Length: Full-time for 3 years. (Theses must be submitted 6 months after the funded three-year study period.)

Training: The achievement of a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA) is compulsory for each KESS scholar (The PSDA is based on a 60-credit award, which is an additional award to the PhD).

Selection Criteria:


  • Hold a Masters qualification (or equivalent) in a field of the Arts and Humanities.
  • Knowledge of the Christian tradition
  • A willingness to work closely with faith organisations and practitioners.
  • Have skills and experience in analysing and presenting complex ideas simply and for a variety of audiences.
  • Have demonstrated excellent written and oral communication skills and competence in using appropriate software and platforms.
  • Have an interest in the role faith organisation can play in society.
  • Have initiative, self-motivation, and ability to effectively manage own time and undertake independent research activity.
  • Excellent inter-personal skills with ability and commitment to work effectively as part of a collaborative team.
  • Ability to establish strong collaboration with the Church in Wales and St Padarn’s Institute.


  • Hold a Masters qualification in Christian Theology
  • Have experience of working as part of a multidisciplinary team as well as working with external partners


Open only to those within the KESS East Wales Programme Area. Candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a home/work address in the East Wales Programme Area * at the time of taking up the scholarship;
  • Have the right to take up paid work in the Programme Area * on completion of the scholarship;
  • Be classified as ‘home’ or ‘EU’ according to the University’s guidelines.

* East Wales Programme Area includes: Flintshire, Powys, Wrexham, Vale of Glamorgan, Monmouthshire, Newport, and Cardiff

How to apply:

Questions about the scholarship and research project may be directed to the project supervisor, Dr Timothy Baylor (

A completed application package should be submitted to Dr Matt Briggs by 12th September  Applications received after this point will not be considered.  Hard copy may be sent to :

Dr Matt Briggs

Research, Innovation and Enterprise Services

University of Wales, Trinity Saint David.

Technium 1

Kings Road



Shortlisted candidates will be informed by 17th September 2019

Interviews will be held w/c  30th September

Application package:

Please download the following documents from the UWTSD website here

  • KESS II Participant Application Form
  • Supporting Documents mentioned on each form

To discuss the project please contact:

Dr Timothy Baylor (

To discuss the application process, please contact         

Dr Matt Briggs.