Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Across the world, the role religion plays within society is being re-assessed and teaching about religion in schools is now seen as a central component of inter-cultural education. A well-rounded religious education addresses the exterior diversity of religions and the interior complexity of religious traditions as well as how religions emerge from and impact on culture. Religious education may include a specific focus on one religious tradition where this religious tradition is studied.

This unit is focused on pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) (Schulman 1986) required for teaching Church Tradition to students in primary and secondary schools. PCK is a type of knowledge unique to teachers, and is based on the manner in which teachers relate their pedagogical knowledge (what they know about teaching) to their subject matter knowledge (what they know about what they teach). PCK is the synthesis of teachers’ pedagogical knowledge and their subject matter knowledge and is the way of representing and formulating the subject that makes it comprehensible to students.

As Catholic schools respond to emerging socio-religious issues and increasing diversity, it remains an imperative for them to articulate clearly Catholic identity. An understanding of Church tradition is important for religious educators who wish to better understand Catholicism itself and Catholicism as an expression of Christianity. This unit deals with understanding the tradition of the Church and teaching that tradition in school religious education. Students develop a body of knowledge related to key periods of Church history. Students demonstrate cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate complex ideas and concepts about embedding Church tradition in religious education in particular, and in Catholic school settings generally.

The aim of this unit is to develop teachers’ PCK related to teaching about Catholic Church tradition within religious education.

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 - Classify the importance to Christianity of the historical, religious and cultural contexts of first century Judaism (GA8; APST 2.2 HA)

LO2 - Explain understandings of Jesus as the Christ and subsequent development in creeds (GA4; APST 6.3 Lead)

LO3 - Develop cognitive skills that demonstrate mastery of historical knowledge of Church tradition (GA5; APST 2.1 Lead)

LO4 - Interpret, justify and communicate theoretical propositions about Church tradition and the way they are expressed and taught in Catholic school settings (GA4, GA6; APST 3.2 Lead)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively

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

GA6 - Solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

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 towards the following standards:

2.1 - Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area

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.

3.2 - Plan, structure and sequence learning programs

Exhibit exemplary practice and lead colleagues to plan, implement and review the effectiveness of their learning and teaching programs to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and skills.

6.3 - Engage with colleagues and improve practice

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 towards the following standards:

2.2 - Content selection and organisation

Exhibit innovative practice in the selection and organisation of content and delivery of learning and teaching programs.


Topics will include:

  • Jesus in his first century Jewish context
  • Jerusalem and Beyond
  • Trinity
  • Creeds
  • The Middle Ages to the Reformation
  • The Enlightenment, Vatican II and Church today

Each of the topics will have a particular emphasis on Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) required for teaching about Church tradition within contemporary Religious Education classrooms 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in multi-mode (i.e. delivered online and in face-to-face contexts) and uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of the essential pedagogical content knowledge associated with teaching Church Tradition and understanding its place within the Catholic school. Students engage with knowledge and skills underpinning teaching of Church Tradition through a series of online asynchronous interactive lessons. Students also have the opportunity to attend synchronous online sessions and to participate in the construction and synthesis of this knowledge. This approach allows flexibility for students who are largely engaged in full-time work.

Where required by cohorts, part or all of the unit could be delivered face-to-face with students engaging in lectures and workshops as well as accessing digital resources and activities available through the LEO site.

This learning and teaching strategy will facilitate active participation in pedagogical approaches that demonstrate alignment of teaching, learning and assessment and the strategy is responsive to the diverse contexts of individual students and cohorts.

This is a 10 credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video, workshops, and assignments etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, postgraduate students need to complete and submit two graded assessment tasks.

The assessment strategy used allows students to develop significant knowledge and understanding related to specific elements of Church tradition and to consider the implications of these for Catholic Education generally and Religious Education specifically.

In order to achieve the outcomes each task requires postgraduate students to demonstrate substantial knowledge of a specific period within the Church and its role in the development of tradition. Students are then required to consider how this topic is addressed with their local diocesan religious education curriculum.

The first assignment focuses either on Jesus in his first century Jewish context or different understandings of Jesus that led to the development of the doctrine of the Trinity and the development of the creeds. The second assignment focuses either on one of the periods of Catholic Church history or contemporary expressions of the Catholic Church. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Extended writing Task

focusing on Jesus in his first century Jewish context or different understandings of Jesus that led to the development of the doctrine of the Trinity and the development of the creeds.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2

Research essay focuses

 on one of the periods of Catholic Church history or contemporary expressions of the Catholic Church



GA4, GA6

Representative texts and references

Barclay, J., & Crabbe, K. (Eds) (2022). The reception of Jewish tradition in the social imagination of the early Christians. T & T Clarke: London.

 Dong-Kun, K. (2019). The future of Christology: Jesus Christ for a global age.  Fortress Academic :Maryland.

Gaillardetz, R. R. (ed). (2020). The Cambridge companion to Vatican II. Cambridge University Press; New York.

 Levine, A. J. (2021). When the Bible becomes weaponized: Detecting and disarming Jew-hatred. Nordic Journal of Theology, 75, (2). 182-204.

McGrath, A. E. (2017). Christian theology: An introduction. Wiley Blackwell: Chichester.

O’Malley, J.W. (2015). Catholic history for today’s church: How our past illuminates our present. Rowman & Littlefield.

Rea, R.F, & Cone, S. D. (2019). A global church history; The great tradition through cultures, continents, and centuries. T & T Clark: London.

Regev, E. (2019). The temple in early Christianity: Experiencing the sacred. Yale University Press: Yale.

Rush, O. (2019). The vision of Vatican II: Its fundamental principles. Liturgical Press: Collegeville.

Wenham, D. (2021). Jesus in context: Making sense of the historical figure. Cambridge University Press: London.

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