STUDY? I haven’t got time for that!


How often have you thought that you would love to spend more time immersing yourself in a particular aspect of spiritual or church life but have just never got around to it?

The concept of life-long learning is not new and now forms an essential component to lay professional life and to most progressive businesses.  The Church of Scotland is no different in this respect. Indeed, the church has both encouraged and provided for ministerial study leave since 1998.  Study leave is an essential component of the Ministerial development process and as such there is a recognition that the whole church will benefit, as well as the individual.

Things are not the same as they were in 1998. However, the church remains committed to making study leave available to all ministers of word and sacrament. In 2017 the GA requested the then Ministries Council to review Study leave provision. The recommendations made were accepted in 2019 and as we emerge from the Covid pandemic and begin to adjust to new ways of life and ministry we have an opportunity to be reminded of what is available.

The overarching principle is that there are times when, to make learning effective, we have to step away from the routine of parish life. ‘Time out’ is the basis of the provision, and each Minister has their own study leave ‘account’. Cover arrangements need to be detailed in the application and this should be facilitated by Presbytery with help from the applicant. The time allowed away from regular duties is up to two weeks per year and from the end of this year, this allowance can be accrued for a maximum of five years. In addition to the time out, a modest financial grant of up to £275 each year is also available, similarly accruable for up to five years (as of the end of 2022). The time and financial support may be used together or separately. It is only fair to say that the budget for this is set each year and is fixed so essentially once exhausted, applications will be turned down.

It is important to recognise that while a period of study leave can be stimulating and refreshing it should not be confused with the regular need for rest and recuperation we all have.  A time of study leave will be most beneficial when annual leave is also being used across each year.  Similarly, engaging in regular spiritual and reflective practice as part of ministry, will mean a time of study leave can be beneficial in a different way.

As to what can be undertaken, the name says it all! The central component is time out to increase learning. This is best achieved when a plan is laid out with defined objectives including an indication of material to be studied e.g. a simple reading list. It is strongly advised, in addition, that a mentor / supervisor is involved, this individual being predominantly a support and guide with no need for academic or other expertise.

Once completed every recipient is required to submit a brief critical report of the benefits or limitations of the exercise. This is retained and can be accessed by staff and future applicants, or indeed the broader church.


Applications for Study leave can be found here Study Leave – Ascend (

Why not submit an application?

Study leave enquiries can be emailed to