Supervised Theological Field Education is the formal learning process that a student undertakes to gain practical experience in an actual ministry setting that includes education, ministry experience, theological reflection, and supervision.
Supervised Theological Field Education (STFE) is not a separate award or course. STFE is available as designated undergraduate or postgraduate units that offer a significant component of experiential learning through a ministry placement. One or more STFE units may be taken as part of a course of study. STFE units may be general or specific in their focus.
Supervised Theological Field Education seeks to integrate theology, practice, and personal identity to equip people for ongoing ministry. STFE students may be denominational candidates for formal ministry or they may be lay people drawn to work, or already working, in ministry. Ministry contexts may include parish, local church, chaplaincy, cross cultural placements, church planting or emerging faith community and mission paradigms.
Colleges offering STFE
The following Colleges of the University offer STFE Units:
- Australian Lutheran College
- Catholic Theological College
- Eva Burrows College
- Pilgrim Theological College
- Trinity College Theological School
- Whitley College
The University of Divinity has a STFE Framework that provides of a set of common requirements to which all STFE units must adhere and demonstrate alignment, as an agreed point or framework of accountability in relation to both University and community expectations and effective pedagogy. From 2021 this Framework applies to all designated STFE Units.
1. Supervised Theological Field Education (STFE) is the formal learning process that a student undertakes to gain practical experience in an actual ministry setting that includes education, ministry experience, theological reflection, and supervision.
2. The Unit Record for each STFE Unit must state in the Content field that this is a Supervised Theological Field Unit.
3. Supervised Theological Field Units may be offered as Undergraduate or Postgraduate units.
4. A Unit may be offered as a ‘double unit’ covering two consecutive semesters workload and placement. This must be noted in the Volume field of the Unit Record.
5. Colleges may choose to require particular pre-requisite Unit/s before an STFE Unit may be taken. All pre-requisites must be listed in the Unit Record. A College may require a progression of units in Supervised Theological Field Education, where successful completion of one unit is a pre-requisite for a further unit in Supervised Theological Field Education. The progression of learning and engagement for the student across these Units must be set out in the Unit Record.
STFE Unit Enrolment
6. STFE Units may be offered by Colleges to all enrolled students, or may be offered only to the College’s ministerial candidates. The STFE Unit Record must specify that being an accepted ministerial candidate of the College is a pre-requisite for enrolling in an STFE Unit, if this is the case.
7. An STFE Unit must not be taken as a sole first unit of study. At minimum it must be taken concurrently with one or more other University of Divinity units in Biblical Studies, or Christian Thought and History, or Theology: Mission and Ministry. It is preferable that an STFE Unit is not commenced until several or more units in these areas have been completed. The STFE Unit Record must record any requirements the College has regarding the Unit Sequence.
8. Enrolment in an STFE Unit must be preceded by an interview with the College STFE Coordinator to determine the student’s capacity and experience to undertake and be suited to an STFE Unit. The student must only proceed with enrolment if the determination of the interview affirms the student’s suitability. This requirement is in addition to other enrolment requirements. A record of the interview and its outcome must be made and retained by the College.
Student Workload and Assessment
9. The Unit Record of each STFE Unit must reflect the following workload hours and breakdown:
Minimum overall workload: 150 hours undergraduate , 200 hours postgraduate
Within these minimum totals are the following:
- Placement work as set out in the Agreement. Minimums: 96 hours (undergraduate) and 144 hours (postgraduate)
Note: the duration of the placement may be for longer than the weeks of a standard semester.
- Theological reflection, integration, and supervision, minimum 24 hours (undergraduate and postgraduate).
This must include a minimum of 6 hours individual Pastoral Supervision. Modes of delivery for the remaining 18 hours of active integration may include discussion, analysis, feedback, and theological reflection in one or more of the following:
- a peer group
- with an in situ ministry colleague
- with a church official
- with a placement feedback group
- Spiritual Direction
- seminars or workshops
- Planning, preparation, review of placement work in conjunction with Workplace Director, or STFE Coordinator, or in seminar/workshop, minimum 12 hours (undergraduate and postgraduate).
- Reading/study/writing assessments minimum of 18 hours (undergraduate) and 20 hours (postgraduate).
10. An STFE Unit must have the following minimum written assessment requirements:
- undergraduate 4,500-5,000 words
- postgraduate 7,000-8,000 words
These and all other assessment tasks must be noted in the Unit Record.
11. Whether the student or the college or the denomination arranges the placement location, a Placement Agreement must be signed between the student, the entity in which the student is placed, and the STFE Coordinator of the College that is offering the STFE Unit in which the student is enrolled. This Agreement must identify the place of work and the Work Director, and include an overview of, and goals for, the work that is to be undertaken by the student. The Agreement will also set out the arrangements regarding safeguarding. It is understood that in some Colleges the term Covenant (or similar) may be used instead of Placement Agreement. This Covenant (or Agreement) may include other elements in addition to the minimum requirements set out in this Framework.
12. As part of their Agreement each student must keep a record of their placement work: date, duration, type of event, where, and brief detail of student’s role in work or event (without detailing the content of event/meeting or any information related to other people). This record of accountability may be viewed by any of the three appointed people (see 13) and must be submitted to the STFE Coordinator by the end of the unit at a date to be notified to students.
13. Each STFE Unit student must work with three appointed people who oversee, guide and supervise the student’s work:
- STFE Coordinator
- Workplace Director
- Pastoral Supervisor
These people must all be named within the Placement Agreement.
14. STFE Coordinator
This is the Staff Member at each UD College offering STFE Unit/s who is accredited as Lecturer to facilitate and deliver STFE Units.
15. Workplace Director
This is the person at the ‘placement’ location who directs the work of the student. This person will have the relevant authority, experience, time, and availability to do so. They may also guide and reflect with the student, and will also provide a written report to the College regarding the student’s placement work.
16. Pastoral Supervisor
This is the person accredited by the College to provide Pastoral Supervision, i.e., the process of engaging the student in reflection upon the experience of ministry. The Pastoral Supervisor has the skills and suitable experience to enable and support an individual student in the process of reflecting upon her/his experience of ministry. The Pastoral Supervisor must not be working closely with the student in the work placement. With regard to each student, the Pastoral Supervisor must not be the same person as the Workplace Director or the STFE Coordinator. It is understood that in some programs the term Mentor may be used rather than Pastoral Supervisor, however the role is the same.
17. Each STFE Student will have an accredited Pastoral Supervisor with whom to undertake Theological Reflection on matters related to the student’s work within the unit, for a minimum of 6 hours per unit. This is done through individual sessions. A report from this Supervisor must be submitted to the STFE Coordinator.
18. The College and any other entity that governs the placement and the actual workplace will both have demonstrably operative Safeguarding Policies.
19. All STFE students in the early part of the Unit will complete a Learning Module about the University’s Code of Conduct as well as additional learning about Safeguarding. Additionally, Colleges will ensure that Safeguarding processes particular to their denomination are fully undersood by their STFE students.
20. Issues regarding the care and safeguarding of children, young people, and vulnerable adults, and the exercise of professional ministry standards should also be incorporated in the teaching and discussions within each STFE Unit
21. All STFE students prior to commencing a Unit will hold a Victorian (or other Australian) Working With Children Check, or if the student has not been resident in Australia for three years, an appropriate Police Check.
22. STFE students must be over 18 at the time of enrolment for the STFE Unit.
23. This is a required Learning Outcome for all STFE Units. It must be recorded in the Learning Outcomes field of the Unit Record in this or similar wording:
Demonstrate an integrated understanding of Child Safeguarding and Professional Ministry Standards.
24. In developing new units or revising existing ones, some or all of the following Learning Outcomes may be used or adapted, but are not mandatory.
Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:
- Demonstrate competencies in ministry practice in the field placement ministry context.
- Demonstrate the ability to theologically reflect on ministry practice and ministry context.
- Reflect critically on Christian commitment and denominational identity informed by the field placement.
- Reflect critically on the contribution of the field placement to her/his spiritual and personal development, and vocational identity.
- Document evidence of learning about ministry and self-awareness that has resulted from the field placement.
- Develop goals and demonstrate key ministry practice skills required within a Field Placement context.
- Integrate wider theological reading into theological reflection on the placement context.
To read the STFE Framework within the policy context, view the full Unit Policy.