Professor Joshua Hordern


Joshua Hordern is Professor of Christian Ethics in the Faculty of Theology and Religion and a Governing Body Fellow of Harris Manchester College. 

He read Classics at New College, Oxford before postgraduate study of Theology in Oxford and a doctorate in Edinburgh. After this he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge, Associate Director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, Lecturer at Cambridge’s Faculty of Divinity and an elected local authority councillor in Bury St Edmunds.

In Oxford since 2012, Prof Hordern now supervises postgraduate students in the field of Christian Ethics and teaches undergraduate students on courses in Philosophy and Theology, Theology and Religion and Theology and Oriental Studies. He welcomes interest from postgraduate students interested in supervision in relation to his research interests or any other areas of Christian ethics. 

Research Area/s

Christian and Religious Ethics

Research Interests

Christian political theology, healthcare, conscience, loyalty, covenant, the role of affections in ethics, Islamic political thought.

His research interests are in two main areas, political theology and healthcare. He warmly welcomes interest from prospective postgraduate students interested in supervision in relation to these research interests or any other areas of Christian ethics. 

First, his research draws on the long tradition of Christian political sources in order to illuminate present-day concerns. This work was included exploration on the role of affections in politics (Political Affections, 2013) and an extended conversation with Islamic political thought (co-edited journal issues of The Muslim World and Studies in Christian Ethics). His forthcoming work from 2021 onwards will have a renewed emphasis on political thought, especially the themes of loyalty, conscience and covenant, applied to issues of national identity. 

Second, he works in partnership with healthcare researchers, clinicians and institutions, exploring issues which concern the ethos of healthcare. These extend to questions of health and well-being more generally. Particular foci have included the culture of precision medicine research, medical professionalism, the role of compassion in healthcare organisations and the covenantal significance of health and healthcare to national identity, especially in the recovery from the pandemic. 

Interfacing with such real-world practical problems, he leads the Oxford Healthcare Values Partnership, which has collaborated closely with cross-disciplinary academic colleagues, the UK Medical Research Council/Cancer UK funded Stratification in Colorectal Cancer Consortium, the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine and a number of patient organisations. He is the Humanities Division academic lead for the Medical Humanities/Humanities and Healthcare programmes which develops research projects in areas such as vaccine hesitancy, medical education and ageing/ageism. He was a member of the Royal College of Physicians Committee for Ethical Issues in Medicine and co-authored the RCP’s report Advancing Medical Professionalism (2018). A fruit of this work is a new curriculum for undergraduate medical students at the University of Oxford.

He also has a role in developing the policy profile and capacity of humanities researchers. He works with the Oxford Policy Engagement Network to develop this aspect of the Humanities Division’s work and sits on the TORCH management committee.

Major grants to support healthcare and policy work have been made by the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Higher Education Innovation Fund and the Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund. 

He is a member of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England which advises the Church of England’s Archbishops, Bishops and Council on Christian Unity. He is also Chair of Trustees for RENEW Foundation which addresses issues of trafficking and prostitution in the Philippines.

Research Centres & Projects:


Oxford Healthcare Values Partnership

Twitter: @oxfordhvp

Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England

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