Practical Theology

A deeper understanding of people

Practical Theology examines the manifestation of Christianity in the lives of individuals, religious communities and society and the interaction between them, and develops scientific theories based on these.

The areas of Practical Theology include service life, pastoral counselling, diakonia, church legislation, communication, hymnology, church sociology, church architecture and church organisations, administration and management.

The focus area of Practical Theology in Joensuu is pastoral psychology and pastoral theology.

Basic studies: gives you an overview of the subject

During basic studies, you will learn about practical theology as a scientific field of research and gain an overall grounding in the subject. Teaching is focused on pastoral counselling, pastoral theology and psychology, service life, diakonia and religious education. Pedagogy of religion is covered as a separate subject during intermediate studies.

Intermediate studies: focus on your chosen areas

During intermediate studies, you are free to focus on areas of Practical Theology that interested you most. Intermediate studies also include a pro seminar and a bachelor’s thesis.

The subject has no separate research methods of its own, but employs qualitative and quantitative methods, methods used in history studies, and systematic research. It is essential when selecting a method to know what the research aims to examine and what kind of source material is used. Research material includes, for example, letters and other written accounts of personal experiences. Information is also collected using an online form or with the help of interviews. Various other written materials are also important sources of information.

Advanced studies: a research-oriented approach

During advanced studies, you will deepen your understanding about the academic subject as a whole and various areas both in Finland and on an international scale. You will also focus more closely on a single specialized topic on which to prepare a master’s thesis. Often the most fascinating but demanding parts of the programme is the thesis seminar and preparation of a master’s thesis. Your area of study will become deeper and more focused: you will know a lot more about fewer topics!

Applied studies: learning from experience

Applied studies are closely related to Practical Theology in which the principle of learning by doing used in pastoral psychology is followed. As well as applying what has been learnt in theory, new theory is created on the basis of practical experience. There are three kinds of applied studies: applied studies in lutherian church, applied studies in pastoral care and counselling, and applied studies for non-pastoral theologian posts in society. A special characteristic of applied studies in Joensuu is that they take place in a real working life environment (such as a parish, a hospital). A student can include two sets of applied studies in a degree.


Both basic research and applied research are carried out in Practical Theology. The majority of Practical Theology research carried out at Joensuu has focused on pastoral psychology related to pastoral counselling and relationships. Here are some examples of Practical Theology research carried out at Joensuu:

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