Credit points


Campus offering

Find out more about study modes.

Unit offerings may be subject to minimum enrolment numbers.

Please select your preferred campus.

  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Multi-mode
  • Semester 2Multi-mode
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Multi-mode
  • Semester 2Multi-mode
  • Summer TermMulti-mode, Multi-mode Indigenous
  • Winter TermMulti-mode
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Multi-mode
  • Semester 2Multi-mode
  • Summer TermMulti-mode
  • Winter TermMulti-mode
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Clemente Program
  • Semester 2Multi-mode
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Multi-mode
  • Semester 2Multi-mode
  • Summer TermMulti-mode
  • Winter TermMulti-mode
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Multi-mode
  • Semester 2Multi-mode
  • Summer TermMulti-mode
  • Winter TermMulti-mode
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Online Scheduled
  • Semester 2Online Scheduled
  • Summer TermOnline Scheduled
  • Winter TermOnline Scheduled
  • Professional Term 1Online Scheduled
  • ACU Term 2Online Unscheduled
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Multi-mode Indigenous, Multi-mode
  • Semester 2Multi-mode
  • Summer TermMulti-mode
  • Winter TermMulti-mode




PHCC102 Being Human , PHCC104 Ethics and the Good Life

Unit rationale, description and aim

Environmental pollution and interpersonal discrimination are just two examples of the many challenges we face as individuals functioning as members of our community. They highlight the fact that as humans, we are all individuals, and yet none of us lives in isolation. The Bantu concept of 'ubuntu' ("I am what I am, because of who we are") is helpful here, a concept that is consistent with the principles of Catholic social thought. Understanding these principles helps us to determine how issues relating to the dignity of the human person and the realisation of the common good may be addressed in our personal and professional lives now and in the future.

This knowledge and understanding is a foundation for the development of the skills needed to be able to propose ways to address challenges where shared responsibility for the common good is not being realised. Given the pervasiveness of such problems in our community, addressing this need is important to our success as a community in realising a more just world, and to each student's role as an individual who can, and must, be part of that.

In this unit students will learn about the principles of Catholic Social thought, and then build on this knowledge by developing their understanding of how these principles relate to their own life and their own community. They will then apply this understanding in a reflection on how these principles are relevant to their professional context at a local level.

This unit aims to equip students with knowledge and understanding of the ideas of "self" and "community" as interrelated concepts in the context of nine principles of Catholic Social Thought, and it will assist them to develop basic skills that will enable them to contribute to a more just society.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome Description
LO1Explain the major principles of Catholic Social Thought (CST).
LO2Analyse and evaluate the principles of Catholic Social Thought (CST) to show how challenges to the dignity of the human person and the common good may be relevant to the skills and knowledge students are acquiring in their degree program.


Topics will include:

  • The Good Life and the Golden Rule
  • The Bantu notion of ubuntu: the individual and society
  • The history and principles of Catholic Social Thought
  • Human flourishing and the common good
  • Challenges to the common good
  • Advocacy: personal and professional challenges of Catholic Social Thought

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In order to support students’ learning experience in ways that are the most engaging, efficient and effective, the overall teaching strategy used in this unit is a progressive developmental one. This applies to all the modes of delivery in which this unit is offered. In all modes, the use of the Learning Management System (LMS) is integral to the delivery of the learning and teaching strategy. The approach to learning and teaching is via active learning where students are supported through the provision of learning resources and class activities (ether in physical or virtual classrooms) to take responsibility for their individual learning. Students are expected to participate in the activities provided either in class or online and to be able to extend their learning through working alongside other students and undertaking individual research. Students are supported in their learning through the provision of:

  • Learning modules
  • Discussion forums and chat rooms
  • Guided readings and links to electronic readings
  • Self-assessments and other self-directed learning activities

The progressive and developmental strategy for teaching this unit means that the unit starts simply by helping students to acquire the content knowledge that they will need to progress. It then builds on this knowledge by engaging them in activities that will support the development of their understanding of this content and what it means to them personally. Lastly, it supports students in reflecting on that meaning in ways that help them to apply their understanding to situations beyond their immediate and personal context, as they relate to their individual disciplines of study and the profession(s) they may enter.

The unit is delivered in different modes. Students will only study in one of these modes. The modes are:

  • Face-to-face mode over a 10-week period in a normal university semester;
  • Intensive mode over a 2 week period in Winter and Summer Terms; and,
  • Online mode over a 10-week period in a normal university semester;
  • Asynchronous online mode over a 10 week teaching period through ACU Online, where the course is offered via this platform.

The rationale for offering this unit in different modes is that each mode appeals to different people in different circumstances. The rationale for the face-to-face mode is that this is often preferred by students because of the personal engagement they experience studying alongside other students. The rationale for intensive mode is that this is often preferred by students who are working (and cannot attend weekly classes), but who still value a face-to-face component. This mode offers learning activities in ways that allow such people to take blocks of time in which they study intensively, and which can therefore be fitted around their work commitments. The rationale for the on-line mode in addition allows participation in learning by those who are unable to participate in any face-to-face activities, or who simply prefer to work from a remote location.

Face-to-face and intensive modes adopt a ‘flipped classroom’ approach with no lectures. Instead of lectures, small group classes involving ‘active learning’ methods are used. This means that students’ learning will involve engaging with others, as a participant, not simply listening or reading. Active learning methods may include but are not limited to the use of facilitated group discussions; ice-breakers; buzz groups; role play and advocacy. Face-to-face and intensive modes are both supported by resources that will be available through the university’s Learning Management System (LMS) known as “Canvas". Accessing and using these on-line resources and activities is integral to the student’s study.

Online mode seeks to offer students a learning experience comparable to the face-to-face or intensive modes, except that all activities and resources are electronically based, and only available through the LMS. Students’ active engagement in the use of those resources and participation in on-line activities is therefore necessary to support their learning.

When offered via ACU Online, this unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The design of the assessment in this unit is aligned with, and supportive of, the progressive and developmental learning and teaching strategy. In this way, the assessment tasks scaffold and support students’ learning in a sequence that is designed to assist learning and support them as much as possible in their achievement of the learning outcomes. A variety of assessment methods are used. Where possible, students will be encouraged to present their work using multi-media in preparation for presentation styles they may encounter in their professional life.

The same assessment strategy is used regardless of the mode of study. Some flexibility may be exercised in the options available to students, consistent with achieving the learning outcomes and meeting the graduate attributes.

The assessments start with an early and low stakes task that helps students to progress to more complex and more challenging assessments on the basis of feedback that supports their learning as they progress throughout the unit. It is scheduled early in the unit to encourage students’ early participation in initial learning concerning key concepts they will need to progress. It is low stakes (light weighting) to ensure that there is minimal risk to them, but is simultaneously of maximum learning benefit as a stepping stone to the later tasks.

The second task builds on the first. It is designed to assess students’ understanding of key concepts and principles, in a relatively simple way, and is therefore more highly weighted. It requires students to assess how the principles they are leanring about relate to them in the context of their degree program.

The final assessment task is designed to build on these first two by assessing students' ability to creatively apply their understanding of key concepts and principles. Consequently, it is most heavily weighted. As with the second task, this helps to make the assessment personally relevant and valuable for students, as well as contributing to their future professional contexts.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment task 1: Quiz

This consists of questions that allow students to demonstrate their understanding of Catholic social thought principles covered in the unit.



Assessment task 2: Reflective Personal Commentary

This assesses the students’ ability to describe and analyse the Catholic Social Thought (CST) principles in relation to the degree program they are studying, by explaining how the concepts of self and community are interrelated.


LO1, LO2

Assessment task 3: Creative Task and Written Reflection

This assesses students’ ability to apply what they have learned about Catholic Social Thought (CST) principles. Through the generation of a creative work and a written paper, students reflect on the ideas underlying the work and the ways in which it reflects the themes of the unit.


LO1, LO2

Representative texts and references

  1. Beckett, Paul. Labour Rights and the Catholic Church: The International Labour Organisation, the Holy See and Catholic Social Teaching. London: Routledge, 2021.
  2. Bradley, Gerard V. and E. Christian Brugger (eds). Catholic Social Teaching: A Volume of Scholarly Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.
  3. Hornsby-Smith, Michael P. An Introduction to Catholic Social Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  4. Massaro, Thomas, Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action. London: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2015.
  5. Pagnucco, Ron and Mark Ensalaco, “Human Rights Catholic Social Thought and the Liberal Rights tradition”. In A Vision of Justice, edited by Susan Crawford Sullivan and Ron Pagnucco, 139-160.. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press. 2014. 
  6. Shadle, Matthew. Interrupting Capitalism: Catholic Social Thought and the Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.
  7. Strangl, Rebecca. Neither Heroes nor Saints: Ordinary Virtue, Extraordinary Virtue, and Self-Cultivation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.
  8. Metz, Thaddeus and Joseph Gaie. “The African Ethic of Ubuntu/Botho: Implications for Research on Morality”, Journal of Moral Education, 39:3 (2010): 273-290. 
  9. Wall, Barbara (ed.). Journal of Catholic Social Thought. Villanova University: Philosophy Documentation Centre, 2003-. 
  10. Witenberg, Rivka. “A Refugee Like Me: Why the Golden Rule Matters in an Era of Mass Migration”. The Conversation, 26 November 2015.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs