Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


THCT100 What Christians Believe AND THBS100 Introduction to the Bible

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 300 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 30 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, online learning, video-conferencing, or supervision on placement. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Contemporary pastoral settings are highly complex and dynamic environments that require pastoral practitioners to be highly responsive to people, families and communities during a wide range of critical incidents, experiences of dislocation and vulnerability and/or in situations where significant life-transitions are taking place. Pastoral practitioners require a sophisticated skill set at the intersection of spirituality, counselling/mediation and theology.

This unit introduces students to theological, pastoral, and psycho-social understandings of the human person within the Catholic/Christian tradition. Its focus is two-fold: understanding the diversity and complexity of working in pastoral contexts and - taking a capabilities approach - strengthening the core competencies of pastoral practitioners.

This unit aims to help students to acquire the knowledge and develop the understanding and skills needed for them to engage with complex pastoral settings. The development of such knowledge and skills can guide future behaviours, meet ministerial and employment needs, provide a basis for further study, and support the flourishing of students and their community.

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 - Integrate theological, pastoral, and psycho-social understandings of the human person in order to analyse complex pastoral scenarios effectively (GA5);

LO2 - Reflect critically on their own responses to complex pastoral scenarios and demonstrate the development of personal insight (GA1, GA5);

LO3 - Apply a sophisticated understanding of the ethical issues arising in pastoral relationships, in theory and in practice (GA1, GA3).

Graduate attributes

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

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

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


Topics will include:

  • Theological principles and methodologies for pastoral practice
  • The social sciences and pastoral practice
  • Ethics in pastoral practice
  • Contemporary case studies in pastoral practice
  • Critical reflection, pastoral journaling, and the role of the supervisor
  • A spirituality of accompaniment
  • Reading the signs of the times: pastoral practice in detraditionalised, pluralised societies
  • Faith and cultural contexts.

The pastoral placement

The unit involves successfully completing a 150-hour placement under suitably qualified supervision in a pastoral setting. Pastoral placements may take place in parishes, hospitals, aged care facilities, schools, disability/refugee/ community service or other approved settings. All placements must be approved in writing in advance by the Head of School. Before going on a pastoral placement, each student will be required to obtain a police check and (where appropriate) a Working with Children card.

Where this unit is taken together with THCP304 Integrated Theological Studies B, students will undertake the module “Working with Children and Vulnerable People” in conjunction with that unit. In that case, students may elect to add the placement hours for THCP304 to those for this unit (making a total of 220 hours in one placement setting where appropriate).

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 300 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 30 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, online learning, videoconferencing, or supervision on placement. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

The unit is normally offered in attendance mode or multi-mode and includes a period of at least 150 hours in a supervised pastoral placement. Students learn through formally structured and sequenced learning activities that support the achievement of the learning outcomes. Students are asked to critically reflect, analyse, and integrate new information with existing knowledge, draw meaningful new connections, and then apply what they have learned. Collaborative and peer learning is also emphasized. In addition, student learn through practical placement, reflection on that experience, and interactions with a placement supervisor.

THCP305 emphasises students as active, adult learners. Students are recognised as adult learners who engage best when what they are learning is relevant to them and gives them the opportunity to be responsible for their own learning. In many ways, the student is the one who drives the learning forward, and their active participation in this unit is essential. Learning is designed to be an engaging and supportive experience, which helps students to develop critical thinking and reflection skills.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to complete the hurdle tasks, submit an attempt of each assessment and obtain an overall average of at least 50%.

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate your achievement of each learning outcome.

The hurdle task provides students with an opportunity to complete the 150-hour placement and implement reflective practice skills and develop the data that will form part of their other assessments.

Assessment 1 enables students to process the data in their reflective journal in a critical analytical way to demonstrate their learnings from their pastoral placement.

Assessment 2 enables students to apply critical reflection skills to a particular pastoral case study drawn from their placement experience to demonstrate their appreciation of ethical and theoretical concepts.

Assessment 3 enables to employ theoretical analysis and argument in essay form to develop and demonstrate their knowledge of theoretical and practical issues related to pastoral complexity. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Placement and Critical reflective journal

Complete 150-hour placement and critically reflect on the placement experience. This forms the part of the data for assessments other assessments.

Hurdle Task



Critical reflections on supervision

Using the data from their journals, students demonstrate the development of critical reflective skills appropriate to the field of pastoral reflection developed during the course of the placement and the supervision.


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA5

Case study

Students describe a case from their pastoral placement and critically analyse it using theoretical and practical skills learned in the unit


LO1, LO3

GA1, GA3, GA5

Theoretical paper

Analysis and examination of pastoral complexity including theoretical and ethical issues raised by a pluralist context


LO1, LO3

GA1, GA3, GA5

Representative texts and references

Allain-Chapman, J. Resilient Pastors: The Role of Adversity in Healing and Growth. London: SPCK, 2012.

Doehring, Carrie. The Practice of Pastoral Care: A Postmodern Approach. Louisville, KEN: John Knox Press, 2006.

Dykstra, R., ed. Images of Pastoral Care: Classic Readings. St Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2004.

Graham, E. Words Made Flesh: Essays in Pastoral and Practical Theology. London: SCM Press, 2009.

Gula, R.M. Just Ministry: Professional Ethics for Pastoral Ministers. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2006.

Kujawa-Holbrook, S. and K. Montagno, eds. Injustice and the Care of Souls: Taking Oppression Seriously in Pastoral Care. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010.

Lynch, Peter. The Church’s Story: A History of Pastoral Care and Vision. Strathfield, Sydney: 2005.

Moran, Frances M. Beyond the Culture of Care: Helping those sold out by the Market Economy. Strathfield, Sydney: St Pauls, 2006.

Pembroke, Neil. The Art of Listening: Dialogue, Shame and Pastoral Care. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2002.

Swinton, John. Raging with Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2007.

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