Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


THCT565 Reflecting on Faith, Recontextualising Tradition

Unit rationale, description and aim

In this unit, participants will analyse the history and theories of religious education in Australia, including the magisterial (catechetical) approach, the kerygmatic approach, the life-centred (experiential) approach, the Shared Christian Praxis approach, the social science (typological) approach, and the educational approach. Participants will then examine the Hermeneutic-Communicative Model (HCM) of religious education. The theories will be evaluated utilising findings from the Melbourne Scale typology developed as part of the Enhancing Catholic School Identity (ECSI) research, that is, as potentially reconfessionalising, secularising, correlational or recontextualising. Participants will then rehearse the practical application of the HCM through developing skills in dialogue and moderation. The knowledge and dispositions considered in the previous units in the course will provide participants with practice in articulating their informed, communicative and critical witness to the Christian tradition.

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 - Give a critical account of historical approaches to religious education in Australia in light of contemporary social and religious contexts (GA4, GA5);

LO2 - Describe, perform, and evaluate the Hermeneutic-Communicative Model (HCM) of religious education (GA1, GA5);

LO3 - Explain the Melbourne Scale typology and analyse the implications of the four constructs for Catholic school identity (GA4, GA5)

LO4 - Identify and reflect critically on the teacher dispositions necessary for authentic teaching and learning in Religious Education in a pluralising and detraditionalising context (GA4, GA5). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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


Topics will include:

  • Theoretical and methodological frameworks for Religious Education: historical overview 
  • Bringing context into the foreground 
  • Hermeneutics in Religious Education 
  • The Hermeneutic-Communicative model (HCM) of Religious Education 
  • The Melbourne Scale and findings from Australian ECSI research 
  • Dialogue in Religious Education 
  • Theology and Religious Education 
  • HCM in practice: teaching and learning in Religious Education 
  • The Religious Education teacher as witness, specialist and moderator (WSM) 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

A number of learning and teaching strategies will be utilised in this unit. These include self-directed activities and readings; seminars; critical reflections; and collaborative work. 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. THRE501will be delivered in multi-mode, that is, in combinations of face to face and mediated learning environments. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, you are required to complete both assessment tasks and achieve an overall minimum grade of pass. The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for you to demonstrate your achievement of each learning outcome. They require you to demonstrate the nexus between your learning, dispositions, and teaching practice. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Critical evaluation of approaches to religious education.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5 

Religious education unit development


LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5 

Representative texts and references

Congregation for Catholic Education. Educating to Fraternal Humanism: Building a Civilization of Love 50 Years after Populorum Progressio. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2017. 

Engebretson, Kath. Catholic Schools and the Future of the Church. New York: Bloomsbury, 2014. 

Lombaerts, Hermann and Didier Pollefeyt. Hermeneutics and Religious Education. Leuven/Dudley, MA: Uitgeveru Peeters, 2004. 

National Catholic Education Commission. Framing Paper: Religious Education Australian Schools. National Catholic Education Commission, 2018. 

Pollefeyt, Didier. “Difference Matters. A Hermeneutic-Communicative Concept of Didactics of Religion in a European Multi-Religious Context.” Journal of Religion Education 56, no.1 (2008): 9-17. 

Pollefeyt, Didier. The Lustre of Life. Hermeneutic-Communicative Concept of Religious Education, English translation of the Dutch article: De Luister van het Leven. Hermeneutisch-Communicatief GodsdienstonderwijsNarthex 13, no.1 (2013): 62-68. 

Pollefeyt, Didier. “Hermeneutical Learning in Religious Education.” Journal of Religious Education 68, no.1 (2020). 

Pollefeyt, Didier and Michael Richards. "The Living Art of Religious Education: A Paradigm of Hermeneutics and Dialogue for RE at Faith Schools Today." British Journal of Religious Education (2019): Online. 

Pollefeyt, Didier and Michael Richards. “Catholic Dialogue Schools, Enhancing Catholic School Identity in Contemporary Contexts of Religious Pluralisation and Social and Individual Secularisation.” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses (2020):77-113.  

Rymarz, Richard, and Angelo Belmonte. Religious Education in Australian Catholic Schools: Exploring the Landscape. Mulgrave, VIC.: Vaughan Publishing, 2017

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