Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, which reflects the standard volume of learning for a unit in a University qualification of this Australian Qualifications Framework type.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Graduates of programs in Ignatian Spirituality should be able to articulate the interrelationships between their spiritual development and their personal and professional roles, as well as developing knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the discipline. This unit will assist supervisors and spiritual directors to develop a deeper appreciation of the range of theological worlds that serve as a background and context to the Spiritual Exercises. It will explore how images of God (theological and Christological frameworks) emerged from Ignatius’ particular context – historical, familial, religious, educational, social, linguistic and cultural. The unit offers theoretical and historical frameworks for a responsible theological and spiritual interpretation of the Spiritual Exercises; it also offers a range of possibilities and strategies for communicating the key content in a contemporary context. The aim of this unit is to give students a framework for a theological interpretation of the Spiritual Exercises.

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 theological worldview(s) operative in the student’s own meaning-making system and assess the ways in which meaning-making systems have changed since Ignatius’ time and context (GA8);

LO2 - Analyse the forces shaping Ignatius’ particular theological world (GA4; GA8);

LO3 - Describe and synthesise the intentional and operational images of God and self out of which those who lived in Ignatius’ time might have been operating (GA4; GA8);

LO4 - Evaluate the comparisons and contrasts between 16th Century and contemporary understandings and interpretations of the Spiritual Exercises (GA6; GA8).

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

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


Topics will include:

  • Defining theology; common theological terminology;
  • Defining Systematic Theology;
  • Theology vis-à-vis spirituality
  • The development of the Spiritual Exercises;
  • The basic structure of the full Spiritual Exercises;
  • Images of God in the Spiritual Exercises;
  • Evaluating the theology that emerges from the Spiritual Exercises;
  • The dynamic of grace in Ignatian anthropology;
  • Encountering God and Christ in the Spiritual Exercises

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The Spiritual Exercises:

Theological Frameworks will be delivered in multi-mode, that is, in various combinations of face to face and mediated learning environments, utilising a number of strategies: 

  • Self-directed activities (such as completing scaffolded reading tasks) enable each student to build a detailed understanding of a topic;
  • Small-group tasks and activities (such as contributing to discussion forums) enable students to test, critique, expand and evaluate those understandings;
  • Plenary seminars and webinars enable students to connect their understandings with larger frameworks and alternative interpretations;
  • Practical or fieldwork activities enable students to rehearse skills necessary to the discipline and to be mentored in that practice;
  • Critically reflective activities (such as a guided Examen or non-assessed journal-writing) assist students in identifying their affective responses to the learning and becoming more authentic and integrated in their actions because of their learning.

The unit is delivered with the expectation that participants are adult learners, intrinsically motivated and prepared to reflect critically on issues as well as on their own learning and perspectives.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to complete all assessment tasks and achieve an overall minimum grade of pass. All assessment tasks are designed for students to show their achievement of each learning outcome and graduate attribute. They require students to demonstrate the nexus between their learning, dispositions, and spiritual practice, and the evidence on which this demonstration is based.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Review of literature (1500 words). This task is designed to enable students to develop skills in critical reading on the theological foundations of the Exercises. 


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA8

Short answer task on the development and theological world view of the Spiritual Exercises (1500 words). This task is designed to enable students to demonstrate their understanding of the development of the theological worldview of the Spiritual Exercises.


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA8

Essay (3000 words) from a selection of essay topics. This task is designed to enable students to demonstrate their understanding of the theological foundations of the Spiritual Exercises.


LO3, LO4

GA4, GA6, GA8

Representative texts and references

Barry, William A. Spiritual Direction and the Encounter with God: A Theological Inquiry. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2004.

Callahan, Annice. "The Relationship between Spirituality and Theology," Horizons 16, 2 (1989): 266-74. Accessed 1989-01-01.

Coleman, Gerald. Walking with Inigo: A Commentary on the Autobiography of St, Ignatius. Gujarat: Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 2001.

Cusson, Gilles. Biblical Theology and the Spiritual Exercises: A Method Toward a Personal Experience of God as Accomplishing Within Us His Plan of Salvation. Boston, MA: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1998. Edwards, Denis. How God Acts: Creation, Redemption and Special Divine Action: Theology and Sciences. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010.

Fleming, David L. What Is Ignatian Spirituality? Chicago, IL: Loyola Press, 2008.

Hartt, Julian. Theological Method and Imagination. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publications, 2006. 

McIntosh, Mark Allen. Discernment and Truth: The Spirituality and Theology of Knowledge. "A Herder & Herder Book.". New York: Crossroad, 2004. 

Munitiz, Joseph, Philip Endean, and Ignatius. Personal Writings: Reminiscences, Spiritual Diary, Select Letters Including the Text of the Spiritual Exercises. London: Penguin Books, 1996.

Rahner, Karl. Ignatius of Loyola Speaks. Translated by Annemarie S. Kidder. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2013.

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