Ecclesiology studies the self-understanding and praxis of the Christian churches both in history and in contemporary times. Christian faith has taken concrete shape in the formation of different church traditions and denominations. In order to understand the church and her utterances one therefore has to study these different confessional forms of expression.

The starting point for an ecclesiological study is thereby a church’s or denomination’s understanding of itself, how it understands itself both as human community and as related to Christ, that is to say that which is called churchmanship or ecclesiology. It is against this background that ecclesiological research describes and explains churches’ worship life and preservation of the sacraments, preaching and pastoral care, hierarchical structure, church organisation and parish system, ecumenical advances, confessional structures, form of worship space and churchly objects.

Ecclesiology is, in principle, interested in all denominational forms. At Uppsala University the subject has, as its main area of focus, the major churches to be found in Sweden, Europe and the USA. The research field touches both on the situation today and in the past.