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THEO564 Introducing Church Life

Teaching organisation

The unit involves 150 hours of focused learning. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, online learning, video-conferencing, or supervision. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit introduces students to a theological framework to facilitate the development of a coherent understanding of the Catholic tradition in its communal, sacramental, liturgical and moral dimensions. Students will be required to bring this knowledge and understanding into critical dialogue with their own belief stance, to assess its implications for their work in Catholic schools, and to demonstrate skills to communicate it to a variety of audiences 

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- Explain the role and mission of the Church in the world, informed by an awareness of key developments in the Church’s history (GA5); 

LO2 - Give a critical and nuanced account of the communal, sacramental, liturgical and moral dimensions of the Catholic tradition (GA3, GA5); 

LO3 - Demonstrate skills in communicating beliefs about the Church in its communal, sacramental, liturgical and moral dimensions to a variety of audiences, including adults as well as children or adolescents (GA9). 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

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

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 

  • The communal nature of Christian faith 
  • The nature, role and mission of the Church 
  • Key developments in the history of the Church 
  • The local and universal dimensions of Church life 
  • The sacramental life of the Church: sacraments and sacramentality 
  • Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Confirmation 
  • Liturgy and Prayer in Church life 
  • Moral and ethical life in the Church 
  • Variety in Catholic traditions 
  • The role of Mary in the Church 
  • Contemporary challenges facing the Church in the world 
  • Implications for teaching and being part of a Catholic school community 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, online learning, video-conferencing, or supervision. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.   

The unit is offered in two modes, online and mixed. In both modes, students learn through formally structured and sequenced learning activities that support the achievement of the learning outcomes. Students are asked to reflect critically, analyse, and integrate new information with existing knowledge, draw meaningful new connections, and then apply what they have learned to their professional contexts.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. These assessments are appropriate for the online and mixed mode of student engagement. The learning activities listed below are organised to support a progressive developmental sequence of learning / scaffold learning progressively. They take a social constructivist approach which recognises the particular relevance, value and need for peer to peer engagement in learning within theology. 

Assessment Task 1: A Written Task that seeks to articulate approaches to the theology of the church.  This task will address Learning Outcomes 1 and 2 and develop Graduate Attributes 3 and 5.  

Assessment Task 2: A Critical Reflection on theology of the sacraments that present a contemporary understanding of the sacrament.  This task will address Learning Outcomes 2 and 3 develop Graduate Attributes 3, 5 and 9. 

Assessment Task 3: A Communication Task on Christian ethics. This task will address Learning Outcomes 2 and 3 and develop Graduate Attributes 5 and 9. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written Task that seeks to articulate approaches to the theology of the church. 


LO1, LO2 

GA3, GA5 

A Critical Reflection on theology of the sacraments 


LO2, LO3 

GA3, GA5, GA9 

Communication Task on Christian Ethics 


LO2, LO3 

GA5, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Baldovin, J. F. and  Turnbloom, D F. Catholic Sacraments: A Rich Source of Blessings. New York: Paulist Press, 2015 

Cooke, B. and Macy, G. Christian Symbol and Ritual. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.  

Deane-Drummond, C .  Evolution of Wisdom Volume One: Theological Ethics Through a Multispecies Lens. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019 

Deane-Drummond, C and Kaiser, R. A. eds., Theology and Ecology Across the Disciplines: On Care for Our Common Home. London: Bloomsbury, 2018 

Irwin, K, W. The Sacraments: Historical Foundations and Liturgical Theology. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2016 

Leonard, R. Hatch, Match, and Dispatch: A Catholic Guide to Sacraments. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2019 

Laurence, J. D. The Sacrament of the Eucharist. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012. 

Mannion, G. Ecclesiology and Postmodernity: Questions for the Church in our Time. Collegeville, MI: Liturgical Press, 2007. 

Pope Francis. The Church of Mercy: A vision for the. Church. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2014. 

Rausch, T. P. Towards a Truly Catholic Church: an Ecclesiology for the Third Millennium. Collegeville, MI: Liturgical Press, 2005. 

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