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 the discipline of 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. This unit will provide an in-depth study of the four “Weeks” of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. It will approach the Weeks of the Exercises from the perspective of the purgative or healing mode (The First Week), the illuminative mode (The Second Week), and the unitive mode (The Third and Fourth Weeks). The dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises (the way in which the various elements relate and interact with each other) will also be explored. The aim of this unit is to provide an in-depth understanding of the dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises so as to support their use in professional practice. 

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 and demonstrate an understanding of the different modes (or “Weeks”) of the Spiritual Exercises (GA5);

LO2 - Articulate and illustrate the significance of the Annotations for both exercitant and director (GA4; GA9);

LO3 - Identify in the Second Week the interplay between the key meditations and the Election (GA5);

LO4 - Construct a comprehensive overview of the dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises (GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

  • The Annotations in the Spiritual Exercises;
  • The dynamic of the First Week;
  • Preparation Days & The Examens;
  • Conversion in the First Week;
  • Discernment of Spirits (First Week and Second Week);
  • The Graces of the Weeks;
  • Key Meditations;
  • Second Week and the Illuminative Mode;
  • Third Week and the Passion;
  • Fourth Week and the Resurrection;
  • Directing the Spiritual Exercises.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

THSP622 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

Engagement with and contribution to online forums (equivalent to 1500 words). This task is designed to provide students with the opportunity to test and review the quality of their learning in the context of peer discussion.  




10-minute presentation (equivalent to 1000 words) on a chosen topic. This task is designed to give students the opportunity to explore and offer critical commentary on an aspect of the ‘Weeks’.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA9

Integrative essay (3500 words). This task is designed to enable students to consolidate their learning by reflecting critically on the unit content and considering how they might engage the knowledge and skills in their professional practice.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA9

Representative texts and references

*Texts recommended for purchase.

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

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

Fleming, David. Draw Me into your Friendship: 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: Crossroad, 2005.

Haight, Roger. Christian Spirituality for Seekers: Reflections on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2012. 

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

Lonsdale, David. Dance to the Music of the Spirit: The Art of Discernment. London: Darton, Longman, Todd. 1992. 

*O'Brien, Kevin F. The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in Daily Life. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2011. 

Schemel, George & Judith Roemer. Beyond Individuation to Discipleship. Private printing.

Toner, Jules J. A Commentary on Saint Ignatius' Rules for the Discernment of Spirits. St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources. 1982. 

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