Credit points


Campus offering

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THEL619 Introduction to Theological and Philosophical Research

Teaching organisation

This unit will be offered via individual supervision. As such, it will involve 300 hours of focused reading and thinking, including discussion with the student’s supervisor, and preparation of assessment

Unit rationale, description and aim

As the Australian Qualifications Framework Council has mandated that all Masters degrees must show evidence of research, this unit has been designed to ensure that students meet this requirement. It is intended to be a capstone unit, one which draws on students’ learning throughout their Masters course. THEL619 Introduction to Theological and Philosophical Research is a prerequisite. In THEL619 students survey appropriate models and methodologies, frame a research question, and begin a literature survey. They build on this work in BETH622. The research question, refined in dialogue with a supervisor, should be limited in scope so that the project can be undertaken in one semester. Data collection should be kept to a minimum, and able to be conducted in situations easily accessible to the student. The literature review should place the study in its research context and be critical but not necessarily exhaustive. Overall, the aim of this unit is to ensure that students can demonstrate an understanding of the research process and scholarly conventions in the discipline, as well as be able to present the outcome of their research in succinct formal English.

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - develop and refine a research question in dialogue with a supervisor (GA7);

LO2 - research a particular area in depth, being able to identify and give an informed, critical perspective on key questions pertaining to the topic, using appropriate literature and methodology (GA4; GA5, GA8);

LO3 - complete a sustained piece of critical theological writing in response to a research question, using the conventions of academic English, including appropriate referencing (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


The project topic will be chosen in consultation with the supervising lecturer-in-charge and the course coordinator.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit will be offered via individual supervision. As such, it will involve 300 hours of focused reading and thinking, including discussion with the student’s supervisor, and preparation of assessment. Through the provision of supervisory support, students will be assisted to meet all three of the unit learning outcomes. Such support will include assistance in the refinement of the research project, direction in terms of reading lists of key texts in the field, clarification of key concepts and theories arising from this reading, provocations toward critical analysis of unit reading, and support during the research essay drafting process.

Underlying the teaching and learning strategy are constructivist and andragogical principles which emphasise that students are active, adult learners who engage best when what they are learning is relevant to them and they are responsible for their own learning.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy for this unit has been designed to examine students’ understanding of the issues and theories under consideration, as well as their ability to critically analyse them. The learning outcomes are achieved through a two-stage process by which the student works with the supervising lecturer to refine the research proposal, argument and bibliography developed as part of the assessment for THEL619, conduct appropriate research and submit a report at semester’s end. This is to be approximately 10,000 words in length, assessed by the supervisor and one other examiner.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Interim Research Report

Requires students to demonstrate understanding of key issues, theories and literature, clarity around a provisional critical position on research question, and an initial evaluation of findings. 


LO1, LO2

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Research Report

Requires students to critically analyse an important debate in the field and to develop a coherent argument in relation to it


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Texts and references appropriate to the topic will be identified depending on the area of investigation.

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