Ragged School of Theology

The Ragged School exists to provide theological training and teaching to ordinary students who might not be able to access higher learning in seminary or Christian colleges.

Why the name ‘Ragged’?

The first or ‘original’ ragged school in Edinburgh was established in 1847 in a small room on the Castle Hill led by Thomas Guthrie, a Scottish preacher and philanthropist. It was a place where those from lower & working-class families could learn since they weren’t welcome in other institutions.

Of the Christian education provided at the ragged school, Guthrie said “the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible; the Bible without note or comment – without the authoritative interpretation of priest or presbyter – as the foundation of all its religious teaching, and of its religious teaching to all.”

Like the original ragged school, the Ragged School of Theology seeks to make ministry training more accessible to ordinary, everyday Christians.

Our Director Mez McConnell chatted with Andrew Murray, a deacon at Livingston Free Church, who has written extensively on the life and works of Thomas Guthrie, about the origins of ‘ragged schools’ and the 20schemes Ragged School of Theology.

What makes the Ragged School of Theology different?

RST training suits the gifts and abilities of people who love to learn practically and actively compared to a lot of ministry training that is more academic and suits those who’ve been to university.

Training focuses on what you can do rather than what you have read and how many words you have written.

Courses are delivered at Niddrie Community Church in Edinburgh, through a blend of small discussion groups and include a ministry placement in a local church.

Assessments mimic ministry activities with presentations, simulations, reports, and portfolios.

Tuition Fees

Certificate IV in Christian Ministry & Theology
one year course


one year course


Advanced Diploma
one year course


Could you provide the fees needed for a student to study at the Ragged School of Theology?

Interested in studying at the Ragged School?

Would you like to study at the Ragged School, or do you know someone in your church who would benefit from theological training so they can better serve the church?

Did you know? We now offer remote Ragged School places, so you can join our live-streamed lectures and learn even if you do not live near one of our ‘hubs’ where lectures take place.

Email Mark Schenk, the principal of the Ragged School of Theology, to find out more.