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 Spiritual Direction should develop knowledge and skills in this discipline and be able to reflect critically on the ways in which their personal development impacts upon their professional roles. In this unit students will explore the theory, context, content and dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises, using biblical and philosophical interpretative frameworks. The aim of the unit is to ground the student in a comprehensive understanding of the structure, form and dynamics 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 - Articulate a detailed knowledge of the theory, context and content of the Spiritual Exercises (GA4)

LO2 - Demonstrate theologically and scripturally informed knowledge of the dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises (GA8);

LO3 - Analyse the Spiritual Exercises in light of foundational Ignatian themes (GA8);

LO4 - Apply an appropriate theoretical framework for personal discernment and decision-making (GA3; GA4). 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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


Topics will include:

  • Introduction to the Spiritual Exercises;
  • The purpose of the Spiritual Exercises;
  • The Dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises;
  • Week One: Dynamics;
  • Week Two: Dynamics;
  • An introduction to Discernment;
  • Scriptural Foundations: Ignatius’ conversion/Principle and Foundation;
  • Scriptural Foundations: The grace of conversion/Key meditations;
  • Scriptural Foundations: The Role of imagination in the Exercises;
  • Framing Ignatius' Spirituality: Key Mottoes in Key contexts;
  • The soul in the Spiritual Exercises.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

THSP504 will be delivered in multi-mode, that is, in various combinations of face to face and mediated learning environments, utilising strategies which may include:

  • Self-directed activities (such as completing scaffolded reading tasks or web-based exercises) which enable each student to build a detailed understanding of a topic;
  • Small-group tasks and activities (such as contributing to discussion forums or undertaking peer review) which enable students to test, critique, expand and evaluate their understandings;
  • Plenary seminars and webinars which enable students to link their understandings with larger frameworks of knowledge and alternative interpretations of ideas;
  • Practical or fieldwork activities which 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 private journal-writing) which assist students to learn reflexively, that is, to identify their affective responses to the learning and to integrate their learning with action.

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

Take-home short answer test (2000-words). This task is designed to enable students to test and review the quality of their learning in the context of lectures, reading and peer discussion.


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA8

Integrative essay (2000-words). This task is designed to enable students to consolidate their learning by reflecting critically on Ignatius’ use of Scripture in the Spiritual Exercises.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA8

Integrative essay (2000-words). This task is designed to provide students with the opportunity to reflect critically on the Ignatian Mottos OR the understanding of the soul in the Spiritual Exercises.


LO1, LO3

GA4, GA8

Aschenbrenner, George A. Stretched for Greater Glory: What to Expect from the Spiritual Exercises. Chicago, IL: Loyola University Press, 2004.

Barry, William A. Letting God Come Close: An Approach to the Spiritual Exercises. Chicago, IL: Loyola University Press, 2001.

Byrne, Brendan. Freedom in the Spirit: An Ignatian Retreat with St. Paul. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2016. 

de Mello, Anthony. Seek God Everywhere: Reflections on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. Sydney: Image Religious, 2009.

Dyckman, Katherine et al. The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2001.

Fleming, David L. Draw Me into your Friendship: A Literal Translation and Contemporary Reading of the Spiritual Exercises. St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996.

Gallagher, Timothy M. The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living. New York, NY: Crossroad, 2005.

Ivens, Michael. Understanding the Spiritual Exercises. Surrey, UK: Inigo Enterprises, 1998.

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

Schemel, George and Judith Roemer. Beyond Individuation to Discipleship. Scranton, PA: Institute for Contemporary Spirituality, University of Scranton, 2000.

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