Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Learning about religion is an essential component of a well-rounded education since religion is an important cultural, social and political phenomenon. A sophisticated level of religious literacy is necessary for all people to participate in today’s religiously plural and secularising society.

For centuries, Christians have used the arts (music, drama, visual art, dance, architecture) to express their faith and to teach people about their religion. More recently, film has also been used to represent understandings of Jesus and God's interaction with the world. The arts have also been used to critique and question Christianity as well as to document various ways in which Christianity effects people's lives. This unit explore, examine and critique the arts as an educative tool within religious education. In particular, students will focus on the representations of biblical stories and characters and how they have been re-presented and sometimes re-interpreted in the arts.

The unit aims to develop the religious and visual literacy levels of teachers so that they are better able to incorporate the arts within the teaching and learning cycles of religious education.

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 - Describe the nature and function of the arts within Christianity. (GA5; APST Lead 7.1)

LO2 - Investigate and critically analyse the arts as a means of communicating and teaching in religious education. (GA4; APST Lead 3.2)

LO3 - Critique how the arts communicate religious themes through ritual, story, drama, music, dance, and art in religious education, with specific reference to biblical interpretations of characters and events. (GA8; APST Lead 2.1)

LO4 - Critically evaluate the use of the arts, particularly film, in religious education. (GA8; APST Lead 3.4)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively

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

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

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Lead

On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained experience towards the following standards:

2.1 Lead initiatives within the school to evaluate and improve knowledge of content and teaching strategies and demonstrate exemplary teaching of subjects using effective, research-based learning and teaching programs.

3.2 Exhibit exemplary practice and lead colleagues to plan, implement and review the effectiveness of their learning and teaching programs to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and skills.

3.4 Model exemplary skills and lead colleagues in selecting, creating and evaluating resources, including ICT, for application by teachers within or beyond the school.

7.1 Model exemplary ethical behaviour and exercise informed judgements in all professional dealings with students, colleagues and the community.


Topics will include:

  • The nature and function of the arts within Christianity
  • Critical evaluation of the arts as a means of communication, teaching and learning in religious education
  • How the arts communicate religious themes in religious education, through a variety of artistic forms, such as ritual, story, music and others, with particular reference to biblical characters and events
  • Approaches and resources for teaching religious education creatively and imaginatively, through the art form of film.

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 explore how, throughout the centuries, Catholic Christianity as used the arts as a form of teaching. Students are able to explore the essential knowledge related religion and arts 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 evaluate ways in which the arts are used within the Catholic Christian tradition.

In order to develop this level of creativity the first assessment focuses on interpretations of biblical characters and events and how they have been represented in the arts. The second assignment focuses on how the story of Jesus is retold through the arts.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Extended writing piece analysing a biblical text using contemporary approaches to biblical criticism and then critiquing the retelling of this biblical text as it is represented in the Arts. 

(2,750 words)


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2

Critical analysis of the life of Jesus in filmic contexts based on relevant academic literature.

(2,750 words)


LO2 LO3, LO4

GA4, GA8

Representative texts and references

Brown, F. B. (2014). The Oxford handbook of religion and the arts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brinkman, M.E. (2015). Jesus incognito: The hidden Christ in western arts since 1960. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi.

Christoffersen, S. A., Hellermo, G. T., Oharheim, L., Petersen, N. H., & Sandall, M. (2015). Transcendence and sensoriness : Perceptions, revelation, and the arts. Leiden: Brill.

Elton-Chalcraft, S. (2014). Teaching religious education creatively [in the primary classroom]. Florence: Taylor & Francis.

Goldburg, P. M. (2010). Religious education and the creative arts: A critical exploration. Saarbucken: VDM Verlerlag.

Hamner, M. G. (2013). Religion and film: A pedagogical rubric. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 81(4), 1139-1150.

Lyden, J. (2010). The Routledge companion to religion and film. London: Routledge.

Quash, B. (2013). Community, Imagination and the Bible. In A. Paddison & N. Messer (Eds.). In The Bible: Culture, Community, Society (pp. 99–122). London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Reed, E. D., Freathy, R., Cornwall, S., & Davis, A. (2013). Narrative theology in Religious Education, British Journal of Religious Education, 35(3), 297-312.

Reingold, M. (2016). Exploring God: Using the arts as a way to engage secondary students in discussions about God. Religious Education, 111(2), 182-199.

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