Credit points


Campus offering

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40 cp from units in Visual Arts and Design

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit investigates art and design from the perspective of spirituality and faith. Set in the form of case studies that range over selected cultures and times, the unit examines artistic activity in relation to religious faith, spirituality and function.

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 - articulate clearly a variety of cultural and spiritual dimensions of art and design (GA1,GA4,GA5,GA6,GA7,GA9)

LO2 - identify connections between art and design practice, spiritual inspiration and cultural context (GA4,GA5,GA6,GA7,GA8,GA9)

LO3 - interpret artifacts and their religious and spiritual significance (GA4,GA5,GA6,GA7,GA9)

LO4 - communicate clearly, employing terminology appropriate to art, design and spirituality (GA1,GA4,GA5,GA6,GA7,GA9)

LO5 - Engage in critical dialogue that sensitively approaches parallel concerns between art, design and spirituality in a contemporary context (GA1,GA3,GA4,GA5,GA6,GA7,GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

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 

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

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 connections between art and design, spirituality and religious faith
  • An acquisition of skills in visual analysis and interpretation of artworks in a cultural context;
  • Analysis of religious art and artefact production and function in their societal and cultural contexts;
  • Including topics such as, patronage, reception and changes in functions of religious  images,  objects and architecture
  • Some domains of interest can include, Australian Indigenous art, Hindu temple design and decoration, Islamic calligraphy, Shinto shrines, Christian cathedrals, synagogues, Buddhist holy sites such as Sanchi and Bodhigaya, the use of the body and ritual ornamentation, the Blake Prize for Religious Art;
  • Issues surrounding imaging the sacred in history, e.g. incarnation, sacrament, icon, religious faith, site/place and artistic creativity.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements.  Such procedures may include, but are not limited to: Artworks, visual journals, student presentations and critical evaluations of art.  

Representative texts and references

Charlesworth, M., Dussart, F. and Morphy (Eds.) (2005) Aboriginal Religions in Australia, Aldershot, UK, Ashgate

Crumlin, R.  (2011). The Blake Book, 1951 – 2010, 60 Years of the Blake Prize for Religious and Spiritual Art. Macmillan Art Publishing: Victoria.

Finaldi, G. (2000). The Image of Christ, London: National Gallery of London.

Groys B., & Weibel P., (2010). Medium Religion: Faith, Geopolitics, Art [Paperback], Publisher: Walther König

Jensen, Robin M. & Kimberly J. Vrudny, eds. (2009). Visual Theology: Forming and Transforming the Community through the Arts, Minnesota: Liturgical Press.

Leslie, D. (2008). Aboriginal art: creativity and assimilation. Melbourne: Macmillan Art Publishing

Limpert, D. (2011). The Politics of Space in Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art: How Aboriginal Art is Received, Perceived and Read in Intercultural Context. GRIN Verlag

Nelson, Robert. (2007). The Spirit of Secular Art: A History of the Sacramental roots of Contemporary Artistic Values, Melbourne: Monash University ePress.

Paranjape, Makarand. ed. (2009). Sacred Australia: post-secular considerations, Clouds of Magellan.

Seasoltz, R. K. (2005). A sense of the sacred: Theological foundations of Christian architecture and art. New York and London: Continuum.

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