Dr Alexander Forsyth

  • Honorarty Research Fellow - Theology and Religious Studies, Affiliate (Theology & Religious Studies)

Research interests


Sandy began a 60% post in Practical Theology in March 2016, following completion of his PhD in 2014 at New College, Edinburgh under the supervision of David Fergusson, and work at New College thereafter as Hope Trust Post-doctoral Research Fellow. The focus of the doctoral thesis was on mission in contemporary Scotland, concentrating on dynamic modes of the interaction of faith with everyday life exercised in the quarter-century after World War II by such as Tom Allan, the Gorbals Group Ministry and Ian Fraser.  A book from the thesis is forthcoming.

His background is in law, with an LLB from the University of Aberdeen, Dip LP from the University of Glasgow and over two decades of experience in practice. He qualified as a solicitor in 1992, worked as a civil and criminal court solicitor in Glasgow and then called at the Scottish Bar as an advocate in 1999. He was in practice at the Bar until July 2015, specialising in civil litigation, particularly personal injury and clinical negligence cases for pursuers, with a specialism in high-value fatal, paraplegia and brain injury cases. He is also an accredited mediator.

He graduated BD (Min) from Trinity College, University of Glasgow in 2008, was ordained as a minister in the Church of Scotland in 2009, and spent several years as part-time associate minister in a parish in Kirkintilloch near Glasgow prior to completing his PhD.  He was a visiting teaching fellow at the University of Glasgow in 2015-16, and at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pennsylvania in February 2016.  He is also Research Assistant on the three-volume History of Scottish Theology, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2019.     

Sandy’s research interests lie in two areas. Firstly, given his background and dual qualifications, the interaction of the civil law with religion in such as: human rights considerations of freedom of religion and freedom from religion; the Equality Act 2010 and religious expression; same-sex marriage and the churches; the legal establishment of the UK churches; and spiritual autonomy and the civil courts.

Secondly, missiology in Scottish and global context, both from a historical and sociological perspective relating to the relationship of Scottish Christianity and society over the past century, in global mission history, and in present-day global missiological thinking.

He would thus welcome potential academic collaboration and postgraduate enquiries in the areas of law and religion, missiology, and in practical theology within the Scottish churches.



  •  Hope Trust Post-doctoral Research Fellowship, 2014-16.

  • Postgraduate scholarships from: for PhD - the Arts and Humanities Research Council; and for MTh – the Church of Scotland, the Hope Trust, the Clark-Mile End Trust, the Park Memorial Trust, and the Morgan Bursary.

Additional Information



Book (forthcoming late 2016) - The Lay Apostles – Retrieving Dynamic Christian Mission in Post-War Scotland and its Meaning for Missiology Now, (Wipf and Stock/ Pickwick Publications) 

Articles & Chapters 

  • ‘Church of Scotland’, in Woodhead, L. and Iversen, H.R., The Varied Fortunes of Historic National Churches in Europe (2017) – submitted, forthcoming.

  • ‘Call to the Kingdom and God’s Mission’, in Learn: Vocation (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2016) – submitted, forthcoming.

  •  ‘Missional Thinking in the Eldership: A Light to the Nation’ in Learn: Eldership (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2015), 68-69.

  • ‘The Missiology of Tom Allan for Today’, Theology in Scotland, 21.1, (2014), 45-58.

  • ‘Walking the Tightrope: The Missiology of Tom Allan for Today’, Practical Theology, 4.2 (2011), 227-245.

  • Lord Macfadyen ed., Court of Session Practice, (Tottel Publishing, 2005): two chapters on the structure of the court and the personal injury rules, and also first update.

  • Green’s Litigation Styles (Edinburgh: W. Green, 1994 et seq) – section re style Minutes of Tender.

  • ‘Transmissible Solatium after Death’, 1999 Scots Law Times (Notes) 45.


Intended academic projects in the immediate future are: 

  • Completion of the book from the PhD thesis;

  • Seeking to develop the study and teaching of law and religion in Scotland; and

  • Articles on the legal establishment of the Church of Scotland and the potential effect of constitutional change, and on the work of the Gorbals Group Ministry