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EDRE101 Religious Education 1: Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment , EDRE161 Religious Education 1

Unit rationale, description and aim

The unit introduces the Catholic school system in Australia and in particular, the role of Religious Education. It recognises that Catholic schools operate within an increasingly diverse and pluralist society and so seeks to examine formal religious teaching in the classroom as both an expression of the life of the Catholic parish and an opportunity for dialogue with people of other and no faith. Specific attention is paid to curriculum design sacramental education and liturgical preparation. This unit focusses on early years primary school settings, aiming to equip pre-service teaches with an understanding of contemporary early childhood theory and practice, as well as the spiritual and religious development of young children.

This unit is designed to contribute to accreditation requirements to teach in a Catholic School. It specifically addresses requirements for Category C Accreditation for Leadership in a Catholic School in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory and CECV Policy in Victoria. 

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 - Identify and analyse the development of approaches to the classroom teaching of religious education in the context of the Australian Church (GA4; APST 1.1, 1.2)

LO2 - Describe the nature and purpose of religious education in Catholic early years and primary school settings (GA5; APST 2.1)

LO3 - Explore and critically apply theories of human and religious development that reflect a high regard for equity and human rights in the context of a broad understanding of globalisation to the teaching of Religious Education in the early years (GA1, GA2, GA4; APST 1.5)

LO4 - Develop and apply skills for liturgy, prayer and celebrations of faith with young children (GA3; APST 2.1, 2.2)

LO5 - Plan and implement appropriate teaching and learning strategies for key topics including sacramental education, scripture, doctrine and morality in local/other diocesan curriculum documents for religious education (GA5; APST 2.1, 2.2)

LO6 - Critically evaluate and implement major religious education resources for both the teacher and the classroom (GA4; APST 3.2)

Graduate attributes

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

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

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


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

1.5 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

2.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

2.2 Organise content into an effective learning and teaching sequence.

3.2 Plan lesson sequences using knowledge of student learning, content and effective teaching strategies.


Topics will include:

  • Terminology of religious education. Various perspectives concerning its nature and purpose. Religious Education as part of the mission of the Church. History and development of religious education in the Catholic sector.
  • The sources of Catholic teaching which shape religious education curriculum.
  • The human and religious development of young children and their readiness for religion; implications for religious education.
  • A study of local diocesan curriculum/guidelines - underlying principles, structure, content and methodology for religious education in the early years. Lesson and unit planning in religious education.
  • Personal and liturgical prayer with early years’ students. The preparation and celebration of Class Non-Eucharistic liturgies and celebrations of faith.
  • Approaches to sacramental education and preparation, with a focus on Sacraments of Christian Initiation: parish, family and school-based programs.
  • The theory and practice of teaching scripture to early years’ students.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The learning and teaching strategy in this unit is informed by various principles that are enunciated in the University’s Strategic Plan (2020 – 2023). In particular, the unit adopts a “student-centric approach that ensures every student has the opportunity and support they need to succeed and graduate at ACU” (Australian Catholic University, 2020, p. 7) (Priority 2.5).

EDRE290 is taught in numerous modes (i.e. face to face, intensive, online, mixed) and involves 150 hours of focused learning. This consists of lectures and tutorials in the face-to-face mode, and recorded lectures (for asynchronous use), videoconferencing and webinars in the online mode. The remaining hours are reserved for private research and cooperative learning through forums and reflective journals, leading to the completion of the required assessment tasks.

EDRE290 is intended for undergraduate students (Primary and Early Child) who wish to complete their bachelor degree with the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to successfully teach Religious Education in the early years of Catholic schools. Together with other units that combine and are foundational to the teaching of Religious Education, EDRE290 leads to accreditation to teach religious education in their diocese.

In this unit, students will investigate and understand various theories about the teaching of Religious Education in the early years, in the context of how young children develop spiritually and the Diocesan Curriculum documents that will frame their teaching and learning in Catholic primary schools. They will learn how to apply their knowledge of key elements of Church life to effectively construct positive learning experiences for young children in Catholic schools. They will also learn how to develop an age-appropriate prayer life for their students, including class non-Eucharistic liturgies and other celebrations of faith.

The unit is taught in a variety of settings: face to face, intensive and fully online. As such, a variety of teaching/learning strategies may be used including lectures, seminars, individual supervision, and research adapted to internal, online or mixed mode. Accessing local Diocesan Religious Education curriculum materials is part of this unit.

Lectures, tutorials, workshops are used to provide students with a range of opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills that are necessary to demonstrate the learning outcomes.

The unit duration will be 150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 24 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 24 hours. Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours becomes private study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The unit builds towards assessment of students’ knowledge of the nature and context of Religious Education and their ability to apply the necessary knowledge and skills required to be a classroom teacher in a Catholic primary school. The assessment tasks are aligned with the Learning Outcomes. There will be three pieces of assessment in this unit, each reflective of a different content area. The percentage weighting for each task will vary according to specific task requirements. Total assessment is the equivalent of 4,000 words.

The first assessment task focusses on the nature and purpose of RE in the early year’s classroom setting. It asks students to consider the faith context of young students and how they learn and develop spiritually and then apply this knowledge to a particular aspect of RE (LO1, LO2).

The second task builds on the understanding of the context of RE to include Diocesan curriculum documents and their aims and purposes in a more particular way. Students are expected to demonstrate the application of the Diocesan documentation to specific teaching and learning activities in the RE classroom, including but not confined to the key elements of Church life (LO2, LO3, LO5, LO6).

The third task requires students to consider some of the broader spiritual and religious aspects of Catholic school life, and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the sacramental life of the Church by designing age-appropriate activities for liturgical celebrations, sacramental preparation and learning about scripture and morality (LO4, LO5, LO6).

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

The focus of the first assessment item will be on the nature and purpose of the various approaches to the classroom teaching of religious education in the Australian Church context. It includes the development of one teaching and learning activity that supports that particular approach.


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 2

The focus of the second assessment item will be on an area of the local/other diocesan curriculum in religious education. It is to include the necessary theological background, creative teaching/learning activities and resources that reflect early years’ students’ contextual backgrounds, their spiritual/religious development, as well as contemporary early childhood theory and practice.


LO2, LO3, LO5, LO6

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 3

The focus of this assessment will be on students’ critical knowledge and understanding of liturgy preparation, sacramental preparation and education, scripture and moral/values education.


LO4, LO5, LO6

GA3, GA4, GA5

Representative texts and references

Relevant diocesan and national Catholic Education Commission curriculum guidelines and documents.

Australian Catholic University. Journal of Religious Education. School of Religious Education: Canberra.

Catholic Church. (2000). Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Congregation for Catholic Education. (1988). The religious dimension of education in a Catholic school.

Healy, H., Hyde, B., & Rymarz, R. (2004). Making our way through primary RE: A handbook for religious educators. Tuggerah: Social Science Press.

National Catholic Education Commission. (2016). A Framework for Formation for Mission in Catholic Education. Canberra: NCEC.

National Catholic Education Commission. (2003). Walking his way, telling his truth, living his life: Implications of Ecclesia in Oceania for Catholic education. Canberra: NCEC.

Nolen B. (2008). Prayer strategies: A teacher’s manual. Palmerston, NT: Farrar House Publishing.

Rymarz, R and Belmonte, A. (Eds). (2017). Religious Education in Australian Catholic Schools: Exploring the Landscape. Mulgrave: Vaughan Publishing.

Ryan, M. (Ed). (2009). Reading the Bible: An introduction for students. Hamilton, Qld.: Lumino Press.

Ryan, M. (2014). Religious education in Catholic schools: An introduction for Australian students. Hamilton, Qld: Lumino Press.

Ryan, M. (2008). Expressions: A religion series for Catholic primary schools. Tuggerah, NSW: Social Science Press.

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