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Campus offering

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Unit rationale, description and aim

In all Australian Catholic educational systems the teaching and Coordinator of Religious Education presents many varied and often complex challenges. This unit investigates issues in religious education that have a bearing on the ways in which it is planned, coordinated and taught. It gives special attention to the perspective of educators who have responsibility for the religion curriculum, including reference to contemporary research on this role, while taking into account other new religious role positions that have appeared in Catholic schools. It examines the leadership and management of Religious education curriculum within the contemporary Australian Catholic educational setting. It aims to equip students to better respond to the diverse experiences, contexts and narratives which influence the Religious education process. It will deepen their understanding of religious education theories, frameworks and practices of leading that can support your work in schools to make a difference in your communities. This will include exploring the ways that educational settings acknowledge or confront issues and as a coordinator or leader how students can shape transformative responses. It will construct a panoramic and holistic perspective on how to make religious education more meaningful and relevant.

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 critically evaluate a range of issues that have a bearing on the ways in which religious education is planned, coordinated and taught in schools at different levels (GA4, GA5; APST Lead 2.1, 2.3)

LO2 - Analyse and appraise contemporary research and writings about the role of coordinating religious education in schools (GA8; APST Lead 3.6, 6.3)

LO3 - Appraise varied and sometimes conflicting expectations of the purposes of religious education ranging from bringing about religious change in pupils to its contribution to the spiritual and moral dimensions to the whole school curriculum (GA4, GA5, GA8; APST Lead 1.1)

LO4 - Examine the key roles of religious education in the handing on of the religious tradition and in skilling young people to construct their own meaning and purpose for life in an increasingly complicated and challenging culture (GA4, GA5; APST HA 1.1)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively

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

GA8 - Locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Lead

On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence of the following standards:

1.1 Lead colleagues to select and develop teaching strategies to improve student learning using knowledge of the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students.

2.1 Lead initiatives within the school to evaluate and improve knowledge of content and teaching strategies and demonstrate exemplary teaching of subjects using effective, research-based learning and teaching programs.

2.3 Lead colleagues to develop learning and teaching programs using comprehensive knowledge of curriculum, assessment and reporting requirements.

3.6 Conduct regular reviews of teaching and learning programs using multiple sources of evidence including: student assessment data, curriculum documents, teaching practices and feedback from parents/carers, students and colleagues.

6.3 Implement professional dialogue within the school or professional learning network(s) that is informed by feedback, analysis of current research and practice to improve the educational outcomes of students.

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Highly Accomplished

On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence of the following standards:

1.1 Select from a flexible and effective repertoire of teaching strategies to suit the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students.


Topics will include:

  • Investigation of a range of expectations of religious education such as bringing about religious change (eg evangelisation), acquisition of religious culture, and skilling young people in the critical evaluation of culture as part of their construction of personal meaning and values for life.
  • Review of key findings from research on the role of religion coordinators that can inform contemporary practice where a variety of new religious roles have been introduced into schools related to mission, religious identity and faith development.
  • Identification and evaluation of issues in the teaching of religion at different levels in the school such as:- children’s learning in primary school RE; planning and conduct or retreats;
  • Investigation of some important pedagogical issues that can have a shaping influence on religious education such as: the interpretation of scripture; potential clash between science and religion; student-centred research-oriented pedagogy.
  • Review of practical professional issues and challenges for the coordinator and religion teachers in the management and leadership of the school religious education staff group.
  • Explanation of the need for a code of teaching ethics for religious education that regulates the place that the teachers’ own views, beliefs and commitments might appropriately have in classroom teaching/learning transactions.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The learning and teaching strategy in this unit is informed by the seven principles that are enunciated in the University’s Strategic Plan (2015 – 2020). In particular, the learning and teaching strategy seeks to develops knowledge, skills and personal values through active learning that draws upon the real-world experiences of the students (Principle 5). Therefore, the learning and teaching strategy adopts an inquiry framework that places the student at the centre of the learning experience.

EDRE 623 is taught in numerous modes (i.e. face to face, intensive, online,) 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.

The learning tasks are designed to introduce students to the complexities and nuances of teaching and Coordination of school Religious Education. Through the exploration of contemporary readings and writings students will critically examine the range of issues and influences which impact on the quality and effectiveness of the teaching and Coordination of RE. They will be introduced to different visions and models for religious education and reference to contemporary contexts. Further to these understandings students will have a range of opportunities to read the signs of the times and take the complex decision to review and recreate the Religious Education curriculum in their own context. The unit explores a range of practical professional issues and challenges for the coordinator and religion teachers in the management and leadership of the school religious education staff group. This will enable them to articulate a vision for religious education, as well as the contemporary contexts in which high quality religious education is made accessible to school aged students.

The range of learning activities are supported by, but not restricted to, lectures (or recorded lectures for asynchronous use in online format), tutorials (webinars in online format) and opportunities for peer to peer interaction.


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 then become private study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The design of the assessment in this unit is aligned with, and supportive of, the progressive and developmental learning and teaching strategy. In this way, the assessment tasks scaffold and support students’ learning in a sequence that is designed to make their learning as simple as possible by supporting them as much as possible. The assignments relate progressively to their achievement of the learning outcomes of this unit and the graduate attributes. A variety of assessment methods is used. Where possible, students will be encouraged to present their work using multi-media in preparation for presentation styles they may encounter in their professional life.

Some flexibility may be exercised in the options available to students, consistent with achieving the learning outcomes and meeting the graduate attributes.

In practical terms this means that the assessments start with an “early and low stakes” assessment which helps students to progress to more complex and more challenging assessments. In this unit, this sequential support is provided through three assessment tasks so that they get feedback that supports their learning as they progress throughout the unit.

The same assessment strategy is used regardless of the mode of study.

The total assessment tasks will be the equivalent of 5,500 words.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Conduct a mini-research project and prepare a powerpoint or audio visual presentation on one from the range of contemporary issues set for the while class to investigate Investigate one of the contemporary issues identified in the unit present your findings as a powerpoint or audiovisual format. The work is to illustrate the student-centred, research-oriented pedagogy for a critical interpretation and evaluation of culture as a key pedagogy for religious education. 


LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8

In a written essay, identify and evaluate three issues that have a bearing on the way that religious education is planned and taught in church schools.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Buchanan, M. T. & Gellel, A. M. (Eds.). (2019). Global perspectives on Catholic religious education in Schools Volume II: Learning and Leading in a Pluralist World. Netherlands: Springer Press. DOI: 10.1007/978-981-13-6127-2.

 De Lors 1996, Learning: The treasure within/ report to UNESCO International Commission on Education for 21st Century, Paris: UNESCO Publishing/Australian National Commission for UNESCO.

Dowling, E. (2014) Sometimes the obvious is not always so obvious! Some perceptions about religious education in Catholic primary schools. Religious Education Journal of Australia. 30(1), 3 - 9.

Gearon, L. (2013). Masterclass in religious education: Transforming teaching and learning. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Neidhard, H. Lamb, J. (2016). Australian Catholic Schools Today: School Identity and Leadership Formation. Journal of Catholic Education 19 (3).

NCEC. (2018) NCEC_Framing_Paper_Religious_Education. NCEC_Framing_Paper_Religious_Education.pdf

NCEC. (2017)  Framework for Formation for Mission in Catholic Education. Microsoft Word - AFramework4FormationMission.docx (

Moran, G. (1989). Religious education as a second language. Birmingham, Ala: Religious Education Press.

Polleyfeyt, D. (2008). Difference matters. A Hermeneutic - Communicative concept of didactics of religion in a European multi-religious context. Journal of Religious Education, 56(1), 9-17.

Rossiter, G. (2018). Life to the full: The changing landscape of contemporary spirituality - implications for Catholic school Religious Education. Kensington NSW: ASMRE

Sharkey, P. (2015). Educator's guide to Catholic identity John Garratt Publishing.

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