Postgraduate chaplaincy education

Course description

A priest at a patient's bedsideFrom 2017, the Department of Spiritual Healthcare at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust offers a postgraduate certificate course validated by London South Bank University. This course combines theory and practice to provide cutting edge chaplaincy education that reflects the diverse needs of the NHS, the patients, families/carers and staff who come from various cultural and faith/belief backgrounds.

This course aims to provide you with a chaplaincy education that will enable you to develop and acquire your knowledge, understanding, competence, capabilities, practical skills and core values, which shape the practice of contemporary professional chaplaincy in a modern healthcare setting.

The course can be followed by two different study routes.

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Chaplaincy: for those who want to pursue the course towards professional healthcare chaplaincy. This course is professionally accredited by United Kingdom Board for HealthCare Chaplaincy (UKBHC).
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Spiritual Care in Health: is offered to those who will like to acquire an intellectual understanding of spiritual care in health within a multicultural and multifaith/belief setting. This route will not require you to take the professional practice component and does not require UKBHC accreditation.
  • Course objectives

    By the end of the course, you will be able to:

    • demonstrate a theological understanding of health, sickness and suffering, including a critical reflection on the place of religious rituals in a healthcare setting
    • demonstrate through academic exercise and practice, have an in-depth understanding of the practice of professional chaplaincy
    • have a clear and broad understanding of the interface between spirituality and health, ethics and pastoral care
    • have acquired the competence to provide spiritual care in a multicultural, multifaith/belief healthcare setting
    • have developed an understanding of the roles of the professional chaplain in a contemporary society, the values that give shape to these roles and the skills required to provide spiritual care in a healthcare setting
    • confidently show an awareness of the dynamics of working in a multi-ethnic and multifaith/belief environment, and the relationship of a chaplain to the institution or organisation within which s/he works
    • have acquired an in-depth understanding of spiritual, religious and pastoral care in a healthcare setting and the skills to provide this care with professionalism
    • have developed the knowledge and skills in assessing spiritual needs of individuals in a healthcare setting, using varied resources and tools
    • have acquired an in-depth understanding of contemporary ethical and religious issues in a healthcare setting as well as principles behind ethical decision making
    • integrate reflective practice with their work to provide excellent and relevant pastoral care and professional chaplaincy.
  • Course structure

    The course consists of four modules set out below.

    Module 1 – contemporary and cross-cultural healthcare chaplaincy

    • What is healthcare chaplaincy? – historical and contemporary perspectives
    • Multifaith/belief approaches to chaplaincy
    • Equality and diversity in contemporary healthcare chaplaincy
    • Cross-cultural communication in healthcare chaplaincy
    • Working in NHS
    • Social care and healthcare chaplaincy
    • Self-care and reflection
    • Human health and biology
    • Blended learning (using websites of multifaith/belief and diversity practices)
    • Assessment – a 2,000 word essay

    Module 2 – advanced spiritual care for patients

    • The meaning and practice of spiritual care
    • Spirituality and religion in healthcare
    • Spirituality, suffering and pain (in context)
    • Spiritual care assessment of patients needs and provision of care
    • Palliative care and Marie Curie competencies (including end of life care for adult and patients with learning difficulties)
    • Children's chaplaincy
    • Therapeutic relationship and boundaries
    • Communication and chaplaincy counselling skills
    • Reflective practice models in healthcare chaplaincy
    • Assessment – a 3,000 word essay

    Module 3: ethical and pastoral care in a multi-cultural society

    • Theology of chaplaincy
    • Ethics: religious and contemporary ethical issues in healthcare
    • Ethical pastoral care in healthcare chaplaincy
    • Pastoral care and ethical issues in mental health chaplaincy
    • The principles and practice of safeguarding
    • Death and bereavement
    • Assessment – a 3,000 word essay

    Module 4: professional practice

    • You will be required to do 200 hours (three days a month) of pastoral placement at Guy's and St Thomas' or at an agreed hospital setting. This component takes place from October to June.
  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements are set out in the following two eligibility categories.

    Eligibility requirements set A (professional requirements)

    Candidates must:

    • be eligible to be registered with the UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy
    • have a recognised status as a member or observant with a mainstream faith community or belief group. A mainstream faith community or belief group are those recognised by the Churches Together England (CTE), Network for Pastoral, Spiritual and Religious Care in Health (NPSRCH) or the Free Churches Group or a written confirmation of eligibility to register with UKBHC
    • have a degree or graduate certificate relevant to your faith community or belief group, or equivalent
    • have a current enhanced Guy's and St Thomas' DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) with POCA (Protection Of Children Act) and POVA (Protection of Vulnerable Adults) for hospital placement purposes
    • a Guy's and St Thomas' occupational health check
    • be willing to undertake a three day-a-month chaplaincy placement (from October 2017 to June 2108), fulfilling all the components of this professional practice either at Guy's and St Thomas' or at an agreed hospital setting
    • provide a reference from a leader/person of authority in your faith/belief community confirming your current status/membership within the group.

    Eligibility requirements set B

    Candidates must:

    • have a Bachelor’s degree (candidates without a degree would require an APL portfolio in an appropriate service)
    • have English GCSE/equivalent (at C or above)
    • provide two references – a faith/belief/character reference and academic or other appropriate reference.

    Applicants for Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Chaplaincy must meet requirements in both sets A and B while applicants for Postgraduate Certificate in Spiritual Care in Health must meet only requirements in set B.

    If English is not your first language you must achieve a minimum score of 7 overall or equivalent, with not less than 7 in the listening and reading section and the writing and speaking sections, for the International English Language Test Score (IELTS) at the time of application or relevant IELTS Level for English Language for working in the NHS.

    Evidence of prior learning will be required for students who choose to join the postgraduate certificate directly. This will include a study at level 6 (Bachelors degree or equivalent) such as denominational qualifications and some practical experience such as visiting in hospitals, hospices, charity voluntary work, or other civic work that demonstrates an ability to work in teams and to help address complex social needs.

  • Course duration

    The course lasts one year from September 2017 to June 2018. You will study part-time, with five consecutive days of block lectures in September, January and April.

    You will be credited UK 60 points.

  • Fees

    Fees for the 2017 course.

    • Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Chaplaincy: £3,200
    • Postgraduate Certificate in Spiritual Care in Health: £3,200

    If you are doing your pastoral placement at Guy's and St Thomas', the fees will be £2,750 (this includes the fee for your fully enhanced DBS checks). However there is a maximum number of students we can take for the placement.

  • How to apply

    The course is open to all – chaplains and non-chaplains who meet the entry criteria set out above plus completion of a required induction week, which is part of the initial steps in the admission process.


    For more information, please contact the course director Nana Kyei-Baffour at or email

    Tel: 020 7188 1187 or 020 7188 9844

    Revd Nana Kyei-Baffour
    Director (postgraduate studies in healthcare chaplaincy)
    Department of Spiritual Healthcare
    St Thomas’ Hospital
    1st floor, South Wing,
    Westminster Bridge Road
    London SE1 7EH



Tel: 020 7188 1187 or 020 7188 9844

Email: or PGCertSPCare@gstt.

Revd Nana Kyei-BaffourDirector (postgraduate studies in healthcare chaplaincy)
Department of Spiritual Healthcare
St Thomas’ Hospital
1st floor, South Wing
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7EH