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Archbishop celebrates Lambeth Diploma centenary

Tuesday 3rd May 2005

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has marked the centenary of the Lambeth Diploma today with three academic awards at Lambeth Palace. Dr Williams presented a Lambeth Diploma to Mr Mark Ratcliffe and also Lambeth M.A. degrees to Dr Noel Cox and The Revd Vivienne Armstrong-MacDonnell.

The Lambeth Diploma was first established by Archbishop Randall Davidson in 1905 with the intention of encouraging women to study theology and, since 1944 has been open to men as well as women.

Candidates qualify for the diploma either by writing a thesis or taking an examination. This year the successful candidate has produced a thesis. As well as this award, the Archbishop also awarded two MA degrees in Theology to the successful candidates detailed below.

The awards were made during the course of a Eucharist in the chapel at Lambeth Palace this afternoon.


The Lambeth Diploma, in full, the Lambeth Diploma of Student in Theology (S.Th) is awarded annually by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Lambeth Diploma was this year awarded to:

Mr Mark Ratcliffe

Title of Thesis: Reader Ministry in the Church of England - where has it come from and where is it heading?

Mr Ratcliffe is a reader in the Church of England in the Diocese of London and serves as a Sergeant in the Royal Air Force.


The Lambeth M.A. in Theology was inaugurated in 1990 by Archbishop Robert Runcie at the request of the Lambeth Diploma Committee in order to meet a need to provide for the possibility of theological study at a more advanced level than the Diploma. It was agreed that a limited number of candidates (thirty on the books at any one time) should be allowed to register for the M.A. procedure. These were to be graduates with honours degrees (2:1 or above) in Theology, or closely related subjects, or had gained the Lambeth Diploma with Distinction.

The Archbishop of Canterbury enjoys the right to grant such degrees by an Act of Parliament of 1533 which gave Archbishop Cranmer the right to grant dispensations previously granted by the Pope. The first M.A. by thesis was awarded in 1993.

The seventeenth and eighteenth are to be awarded this year to:

Dr Noel Cox

Title of Thesis: An exploration of the basis of legal authority in the Anglican Church in New Zealand.

Dr Cox is a barrister in New Zealand.

The Revd Vivienne Armstrong-MacDonnell

Title of Thesis: Language, Power and Ministry

Mrs Armstrong-MacDonnell is now retired but was adult training adviser to the Diocese of Exeter.

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