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 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. This unit explores the progressive history of moral theology leading up to Vatican II and beyond. Particular focus will be on the basic foundations of Christian morality and different moral arguments, with special attention to a spirituality-morality integration. Students will explore the practical applications for an Ignatian discernment process. The aim of this unit is to introduce students to Catholic moral theology and the Ignatian process of moral discernment, to enable them to consider the challenges and implications for Christian life. 

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 - Analyse basic foundations of moral theology in order to assess other specific fields of morality (GA2);

LO2 - Critique various trends in contemporary literature on morality (GA4);

LO3 - Synthesise their informed views through exercising the Ignatian process of moral discernment (GA3; GA4); 

LO4 - Assess critically how the Ignatian process of moral discernment forms Christian conscience (GA2; GA3).

Graduate attributes

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

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 


Topics will include:

  • Theological and anthropological foundations of Catholic moral theology;
  • History of Catholic moral theology;
  • Developments in Catholic moral theology since Vatican II;
  • The relationship between spirituality and morality;
  • Ignatian discernment;
  • Developing moral arguments;
  • Pastoral perspectives on Catholic moral teaching.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

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.

THSP615 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

1. Essay (1500 words) on the foundations of moral theology and contemporary understandings. This task is designed to assist students to articulate their learning in the early stages of the unit through an analysis of the foundations of moral theology and its relation to specific fields of morality. 


LO1, LO2

GA2, GA3, GA4

2. Class Presentation (15 minutes, equiv. 1500 words). This task is designed to enable students to extend their understanding of the implications of moral theology and specific fields of morality by critically engaging them in dialogue with contemporary trends. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA3, GA4

3. Research Essay (3000 words). This task is designed to provide students with the opportunity to investigate contemporary moral issues and trends, to consider the implications and challenges posed by Catholic moral theology to these trends, and to draw insights about the relationship between morality and spirituality in Christian life. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA2, GA3, GA4

Representative texts and references

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd ed. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

Curran, Charles E. & Lisa A. Fullam, eds. Ethics and Spirituality. Readings in Moral Theology 17. New York: Paulist, 2014.

Curran, Charles E., and Lisa A. Fullam, eds. The Sensus Fidelium and Moral Theology. Readings in Moral Theology 18. New York: Paulist, 2017.

Curran, Charles E. Catholic Moral Tradition Today: A Synthesis. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1999.

Gula, Richard M. Moral Discernment. New York: Paulist, 1997.

Gula, Richard M. The Good Life: Where Morality and Spirituality Converge. New York: Paulist, 1999.

Harrington, Daniel & James F. Keenan. Jesus and Virtue Ethics: Building Bridges Between New Testament Studies and Moral Theology. Lanham, MD: Sheed & Ward, 2002.

Keenan, James F. Moral Wisdom: Lessons and Texts From the Catholic Tradition. 3rd Ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016.

Keenan, James F. A History of Catholic Moral Theology in the Twentieth Century: From Confessing Sins to Liberating Consciences. New York, NY: Continuum, 2010.

Lamoureux, Patricia, and Paul J. Waddell. The Christian Moral Life: Faithful Discipleship for a Global Society. Edited by Peter C. Phan. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010.

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