PCA Candidature/Deaconesses

Those wishing to become a candidate for the ministry or deaconess of the Presbyterian Church in Australia may obtain an application folder from the PTC office.

Enrolment Procedure
To enrol in the Diploma of Theological Studies Course or Diploma of Diaconal Studies, you need to complete and return an enrolment form and submit your application for any external examinations by the respective due dates.

The Course of Training
Qualifying Requirements

Before beginning the course of training for the ministry, you must satisfy the College Committee that you meet the entry requirements (College Committee Regulations).

In addition, if your first language is not English, you must satisfy the Faculty that you are proficient in English before being admitted to the course. Currently this is done through the IELTS test. For details regarding IELTS, click here.

The Theological Course

Candidates for the ministry in NSW must complete a comprehensive four year course of integrated pastoral, biblical, theological and contextual study which satisfies the theological course requirement of the College Committee. The Faculty's Diploma of Theological Studies (an internal award), or (for deaconess candidates) the Diploma of Diaconal Studies, satisfies these requirements. This course incorporates either the Bachelor of Theology (BTh) or the (Master of Divinity (MDiv) of the Australian College of Theology (ACTh).

Ling fluent Practical Training
Field Education Scheme (F.E.S.)

Go to FES Information.


All candidates will be expected to participate in a congregation-based or other approved mission each year of their enrolment. Participation in Mission Training Seminars and post-mission evaluation is expected. A mission generally is for one week in first semester.

Exit Thesis Guidelines (Does not apply to Deaconesses)
Guidelines for Exit Theses

General Requirements

One of the requirements of the course of training for candidates for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church of Australia is the submission, in the final year (year four) of the course, of a thesis of 4000 to 8000 words in length, or 15000 words when the thesis forms part of an accredited award, in the area of Biblical studies. This thesis is to be supervised by an appropriate lecturer at the PTC and is to be examined by an external examiner appointed by the College Committee of the General Assembly of Australia.


The thesis in Biblical studies may take a wide variety of forms, including the exegesis of a passage or related passages, the development of a biblical theme, the examination of a linguistic, literary, historical or theological issue in Scripture, or the explication of Biblical material with a view to its application to a contemporary social, ethical or pastoral situation. The emphasis, however, must be on the Scriptures themselves (Old and/or New Testament).


The standard expected of the thesis is that of a major final year undergraduate essay. The thesis should provide the basis for an assessment of the student's ability to develop a sustained argument for a particular position. It should show competence in using the primary sources, particularly the Scriptures in their original languages, and should make appropriate use of relevant tools available for study of the Biblical text. Students should be familiar with the major secondary literature in the area, including material in journal articles. As an undergraduate essay, its purpose is not necessarily to assess originality in research, but rather competence and good judgment in the way the candidate handles the material and interacts with the range of scholarly opinion on the topic.

A high standard of English expression is expected. In this regard, it is proper for a student whose native language is other than English to obtain help if needed. The thesis should be well written, and substantially free of grammatical or stylistic errors.

Theological Position

Candidates for the Presbyterian ministry should demonstrate an awareness of, and interact with, the Church's confessional position where this impinges on their topic, and should be prepared to defend their position before their presbytery if required. The Faculty sends a copy of the candidate's thesis to the presbytery taking the candidate on trials for licence.


Each candidate should have come to a fairly clear idea of the area to be covered by his thesis as he approaches the commencement of his final year in the course. Lecturers are available for discussing possibilities and giving guidance. When a topic is selected, it should be formally submitted to the Principal (orange form) for approval and the appointment of a supervisor. It is acceptable to submit as a thesis work which has been developed from material previously submitted for another purpose, but must not be in essence work which has been previously submitted for any other component of the course of training.

The supervisor may require the candidate to submit a brief outline (200 to 300 words) and a draft bibliography before proceeding further. A final draft must be submitted to the supervisor for approval (certified on the green form) before the work is submitted in its final form for external assessment.


Theses should be presented in the following form:


Three copies of the thesis are to be submitted, one of which is returned to the candidate after marking. The candidate's name must appear on the title page of only two copies of the thesis only.
The final date for submission of the finished thesis to the office is 1 September. The thesis must be accompanied by a certification from the supervisor (green form) that the thesis is of an acceptable standard for external marking.
A thesis judged unsatisfactory will be returned to the student for revision and resubmission

Students need to download both Exit Thesis forms A and B

Exit and licensing of candidates for the ministry
When you have completed the requirements for entrance to the final year of the course, you may apply to be taken on trials for licence either by the presbytery with jurisdiction over you, or by the presbytery which accepted you as a candidate. If you expect to be in this position, you should advise the office by 1 December of the year before your final year, to which presbytery you intend to apply. This is not the same as applying to the presbytery itself which you must still do early in your final year. After you fulfil the requirements of the Course of Training and obtain an Exit Certificate, and your trials for licence have been sustained by a presbytery, you will be licensed by the presbytery, at which point you become unit to the direction of the Ministry and Mission Department for twelve months for appointment purposes.

Credit for Previous Theological Study
Candidates who have completed some theological study may apply to be granted credit for previous study of an equivalent nature and standard. Credit will not normally be granted for study completed over ten years prior to application. Applications for credit are to be made on the appropriate form through the Principal and (in the case of candidates for the ministry) will be assessed by the College Committee.

Faculty Direction of Candidates
Though reasonable latitude will normally be allowed on such matters as your choice of program, where options exist, and rate of progress, the Faculty may direct you to take any course or units at the stage it considers most appropriate. You must seek the approval of the Faculty before undertaking any external course while you are a candidate. If you have work or ministry commitments beyond the normal requirements of the FES, you might not be permitted to enrol in the course full-time. If you have been directed to a particular course, program or unit, you may still discuss this and request a variation in the direction given.

Postgraduate Study for Candidates
The normal theological course for candidates for the ministry is a four year full-time course and for deaconess candidates a three-year full-time course. Provision exists, however, for a candidate, with the approval of the Faculty, to undertake additional study (while remaining a candidate) beyond the minimum requirements of the Course of Training. Candidates wishing to continue their theological studies beyond their fourth year (or, in the case of deaconess candidates, their third year) are to advise the Principal at the earliest opportunity, and to apply formally to the Faculty by 30th June of the fourth (or third) year of their theological course.

Bursaries, Scholarships and Prizes
General Student Bursaries and Scholarships

Candidates for the ministry, who have been admitted to the course of training, may be eligible for a scholarship on fees. (see under Fees). Limited bursary funds are also available for distribution on a needs basis among candidates who are studying full-time in the theological course, for up to a maximum of four years. Candidates, repeating a year are not eligible for such bursary assistance in that year. Enquiries and applications may be made through the Principal.

Any student who confirms that he or she has a valid application for candidature lodged with the Clerk of a NSW Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Australia will be treated as a PCA candidate for fee purposes.  

Among the sources of scholarship and bursary assistance for candidates for the ministry, who have been admitted to the course of training, are the following funds:

Specific scholarships

Graduate Scholarships

The following scholarships are open to candidates for the ministry, who have been admitted to the course of training and who have completed a University degree and who are studying at the PTC:

See Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales 1999: min.150.

Scholarship for Postgraduate Theological Study

Some scholarship assistance towards fees for further theological study may be available to candidates, licentiates and ministers on the following basis:
a) the potential benefit to the church as a whole when the study is complete;
b) the extent to which the student is likely to benefit from the study proposed.
Applications for postgraduate scholarships for the following year should be made through the Secretary of the TEC by 31 July.

The following prizes are open to candidates for the ministry, who have been admitted to the course of training, studying at the PTC.

The Katherine W. Angus Prize:

This prize is awarded for proficiency in Hebrew language or literature, or in theology.

The John Edwards Prize

This prize is awarded for proficiency in a unit determined by the Faculty.

The Friendship Prize

This prize is awarded in memory of Dr John Kinross to a student graduating from the PTC who has passed all exams, has received an Exit Certificate, is a University graduate, and has shown special interest in pastoral theology and the practice of preaching.

The Margaret Gillespie Prize

This prize is awarded to a student or students graduating from the PTC, such prizes to be preferably for Greek New Testament or alternatively for such other units as the TEC may decide from time to time.

The Henry MacNeil Saunders Prize

This prize is a memorial from the family of the late Henry MacNeil Saunders

The Mitchell Prize

The Mitchell Prize may be awarded annually for proficiency in the theological course