Credit points





EDCU623 Social Justice, Identity and Curriculum

Unit description and aim

For generations, religious education has been one of the main ways in which the Catholic identity has been transmitted across generations. The responsibility of identity development can no longer rest within the subject religious education. The Congregation for Catholic Education reminds leaders and teachers in Catholic Schools that it is through the whole curriculum that a "school community makes explicit its goals and objectives" (Education to Intercultural Dialogue in Catholic Schools Living in Harmony for a Civilization of Love #64).

In this unit, students investigate and critique the interrelationship between Catholic social teaching, curriculum and Catholic school identity in an increasingly pluralistic, multicultural and secular world. Students investigate relevant aspects of curriculum theory and curriculum integration, and examine these in the light of social justice in particular Catholic social teaching. Selected curriculum issues emerging in local, national and global educational contexts are examined and critiqued in the light of social justice principles and pedagogical practices. Students are challenged to consider the practical implications of such investigations for their own practice and schools.

The aim of this unit is to review approaches to teaching the general curriculum in the light of Catholic social teaching so as to employ Catholic perspectives across the curriculum.

Learning outcomes

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

LO1 - Identify curriculum theories and their application to the framing of national/ state curriculum policies (GA2, GA4; APST 1.2; 1.5; 2.3; 3.6)

LO2 - Articulate the principles of Catholic social teaching (GA5, GA6; APST 4.1, 4.2).

LO3 - Review curriculum policies and practices through the perspective of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) or another faith based approach (GA5; APST 2.3, 3.6).

LO4 - Design a unit of work integrating one or more CST principles across the curriculum (GA5; GA6; APST 5.3, 5.4).

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account


Topics will include: 

  • Curriculum theory and practice  
  • Understandings of curriculum  
  • Curriculum theories and the goals of education  
  • Application to curriculum policies at national/state level 
  • Critique of these policies and practices in light of Catholic Social Teaching 
  • Exploration of the development and application of Catholic social teaching and social justice and its emergence from biblical justice through to recent Church documents 
  • Biblical justice 
  • Catholic social teaching 
  • Catholic identity 
  • Curriculum and Catholic Social Teaching 
  • Integrating Catholic social teaching across the curriculum  
  • Theories and approaches to curriculum integration 
  • Pedagogies for empowerment 
  • Whole school policy in developing identity related to curriculum 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in multi-mode (i.e. delivered online and in face-to-face contexts) and uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of the knowledge and skills associated with Catholic Social Teaching, curriculum theory and practice, and curriculum integration. Students are able to explore the essential knowledge underpinning ways of integrating Catholic perspectives across the general curriculum through a series of online asynchronous interactive sessions. Students also have the opportunity to attend synchronous online webinars to participate in the construction and synthesis of this knowledge. This approach allows flexibility for students who are largely engaged in full-time work.

Where required by cohorts, part or all of the unit could be delivered face-to-face with students engaging in lectures and workshops as well as students accessing digital resources and activities available through the LEO site.

This learning and teaching strategy will facilitate active participation in pedagogical approaches that demonstrate alignment of teaching, learning and assessment and the strategy is responsive to the diverse contexts of individual students and cohorts. 

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video, workshops, and assignments etc.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, postgraduate students need to complete and submit two graded assessment tasks.

The assessment strategy used allows students to progressively develop their knowledge, understanding and analytical skills to the level of sophistication where they are able to analyse dominant values and ideologies that underlie a national or state curricula and critique these in the light of Catholic Social Teaching.

The first assignment is designed in two parts. It establishes the foundation for the second task by first of all asking students to explore dominant values and ideologies that underlie a national or state curriculum policy. The second part requires students to critique the curriculum policy in light of Catholic Social Teaching.

The second task requires students to critique and adapt an existing unit of so that this unit integrates Catholic social teaching across the general curriculum.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Extended written task

Part A: Identify and analyse the dominant values and ideologies that underlie a national or state curriculum policy (approx. 750 words). 

Part B: Critique the curriculum policy from part A in the light of Catholic Social Teaching


LO1, LO2

GA2, GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 2

Curriculum analysis and development

Develop or adapt a unit of work relevant for a specific context that integrates Catholic Social Teaching across the general curriculum.


LO3, LO4

GA5, GA6

Representative texts and references

Arbuckle, G. (2013). Catholic identity or identities: Reforming ministries in chaotic times. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

Au, W. (2012). Critical curriculum studies: Education, consciousness and the politics of knowing. New York: Routledge.

Clark, M. J. (2014). The vision of catholic social thought: the virtue of solidarity and the praxis of human rights. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

Gleeson, J. (2015). Critical challenges and dilemmas for Catholic Education Leadership internationally. International Studies in Catholic Education, 7(2), 145-161.

Gleeson, J. & O'Neill, M. (2017). Curriculum, culture and Catholic education: A Queensland perspective. Curriculum Perspectives37(2), 121-133. 

Kirchhoffer, D. (2013). What We Have Learned: Catholic Social Thought and the Movements in Australia. Journal of Catholic Social Thought, 10(2), 401-411.

Lane, D (2015). Catholic education in the light of Vatican II and ‘Laudato Si’’. Veritas: Dublin.

McGoldrick, T. A. (2014). Episcopal conferences worldwide and Catholic Social Thought, in theory and praxis: An update. Theological Studies, 75(2), 376-403.

Riley, M. & Danner-McDonald, K. (2013). Seeing the world anew: educating for a just and sustainable future: New perspectives for a Catholic curriculum. International Studies in Catholic Education, 5(1), 23-35.

Siljander, P., Kintio, K., & Pikkarainen, E. (Eds.). (2017). Schools in transition: Linking past, present, and future in educational practice. Dordrecht, NL: Springer.

Singer-Towns, B. (2012). Catholic social teaching: Christian life in society. Winona: Saint Mary’s Press.

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