Maryvale Institute, part of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, has provided undergraduate, postgraduate, and Ph.D. programmes for laity and clergy for over 30 years. 

In an exciting new venture agreed between the Archdiocese and St Mary’s University, Twickenham, (SMU) three of Maryvale’s programmes (recently validated by the Open University and Liverpool Hope University) will move to a new ‘Maryvale at St Mary’s’. This reflects the policy of the Holy See that Catholic institutions should work more closely together. 

Distance learning is an exciting new chapter for St Mary’s (SMU), further strengthening their theological and philosophical provision. They will now have the experience of Maryvale, which has specialised in distance learning since 1990.

Maryvale Higher Institute of Religious Sciences (HIRS), the first of its kind in the English-speaking world, will remain, serving the Archdiocese and the wider Church. Two flourishing Maryvale programmes, the Bachelor of Divinity and Licence in Catechetics degrees, recognised by the Holy See, have a lively and growing student body, and are recruiting for the academic year 2024-2025. Demand for all Maryvale programmes has been strong and ahead of expectations. In fact, the current academic year saw the largest number of new HIRS students ever.

Maryvale HIRS is also developing a closer relationship with St Mary’s College, Oscott, the inter-diocesan Seminary based within the Archdiocese. Current plans envisage sharing Oscott’s IT platform and facilities and holding face-to-face teaching there, as well as exams and graduations. 

Fr Michael Cullinan, HIRS Director, said: “We are determined to continue increasing the opportunities for lay people and clergy all over the world to study high quality Catholic theology and catechetics in the service of the universal mission of the Church to teach the Good News.

“This is a very exciting time for all involved and we look forward to welcoming new students to be a part of a new era.

“We are convinced the three courses moving to St Mary’s will continue to keep a distinct Maryvale feel and our colleagues will keep the ethos and quality of the programmes.”

Prof Jacob Philips, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Education, Theology and The Arts at SMU, said: “We are delighted to incorporate these Maryvale programmes into our St Mary’s offer. The St Mary’s School of Theology has gone from strength to strength in recent years, becoming a leading national centre for Catholic theology. With this move to online learning we can build on our long-standing affinity with Maryvale to extend our provision yet further, both at home and abroad.”

Options for the future use of the Grade II listed Maryvale House are still being considered by the Archdiocese.

Maryvale HIRS courses starting in September 2024

If you wish to speak to admissions tutor, Dr Harry Schnitker, about any questions you may have, please email him at: [email protected] 

Photograph: Maryvale Graduation Ceremony 2023 at St Mary's College, Oscott.


The courses moving to St Mary’s are: PhD in Catholic Studies, MA in Catholic Applied Theology and BA in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition.

The courses staying at Maryvale HIRS: Ecclesiastical Bachelor of Divinity Programme (two options) and the Ecclesiastical Licence in Divinity.

It has been the aim of the Maryvale Institute from its inception in 1980 to provide opportunities for lay people, clergy and religious to achieve a deeper understanding of the faith and to appreciate more clearly its joyful message for the lives of individuals and communities. 

Maryvale Institute stands within the Catholic theological tradition, whose riches it seeks to explore, and draws from that tradition an insistence, not only on the foundational importance of faith for theological reasoning, but also on the place of reason in the response of faith.