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THEL204 Ecclesiastical Latin A

Teaching organisation

The unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total number of hours includes structured online learning activities, including activities such as lectures, tutorials, online learning (including group work), video-conferencing, or supervision. The remaining hours typically involve individual reading of texts, memorizing paradigms and increasingly complex vocabulary, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is designed to introduce students to Ecclesiastical Latin, and begin to open up a world of biblical texts and theological scholarship which is essential to the study of theology in the Catholic tradition. Latin is the language of the Vulgate Bible and the Liturgy and was the main language of scholarship in the West up to the modern period. Learning Ecclesiastical Latin therefore enables students to read foundational texts, access the works of central figures in the Catholic tradition in the original language, and engage in detailed research and interpretive study in theology and biblical studies, especially in the Catholic theological tradition.

This unit involves a study of Ecclesiastical Latin through reading and translating short texts from the Latin Liturgy and the Bible in the Latin Vulgate version. Students are introduced to Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation and orthography. They are then guided through topics in basic Latin grammar, syntax, and morphology. This builds to the main focus of the unit, which is developing understanding of these topics through translation activities.

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 - Demonstrate introductory knowledge of Ecclesiastical Latin morphology, grammar, and syntax working in a fully online environment (GA5; GA10);

LO2 - Read and translate simple original Latin texts into English (GA4; GA5; GA8; GA9);

LO3 - Translate simple English constructions into Latin (GA4; GA5; GA8).

LO4 - Identify methods relevant to biblical studies and engage in more detailed study and interpretation of Christian scriptures and liturgical traditions, especially the Catholic theological tradition (GA4; GA5; GA8)

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 

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

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:  

  • Ecclesiastical Latin orthography;  
  • Ecclesiastical Latin grammar;  
  • Ecclesiastical Latin syntax; 
  • Ecclesiastical Latin morphology; 
  • Pronunciation, as presented in units 1-10 of the set text;  
  • Beginner translation exercises from Latin to English and English to Latin.

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 number of hours includes structured online learning activities, including activities such as lectures, tutorials, online learning (including group work), video-conferencing, or supervision. The remaining hours typically involve individual reading of texts, memorizing paradigms and increasingly complex vocabulary, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.


The unit is normally offered in a fully online mode. Students interact with each other and with academic staff through formally structured and sequenced online learning activities that support the achievement of the learning outcomes. Students are asked to demonstrate understanding of basic vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, integrating new information with existing knowledge. They then apply what they have learned in simple translation exercises. Collaborative and peer learning is also emphasized, as students work together on short grammar, syntax, and translation exercises.  

THEL102 recognises students as adult learners who engage best when learning outcomes are clear and they are given 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. Formative and summative assessment tasks assist the students to chart and maintain progress throughout the unit. Particularly, informal assessment by instructors and through peer-assessment in the online environment is designed to give students clear feedback about progress and support them to learn throughout the unit, and staged summative assessment also provides important feedback opportunities. Learning and assessment is thus designed to be a collaborative, engaging and supportive experience, which helps students to develop relevant knowledge, skills, and graduate attributes.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to attempt all assessment tasks and achieve an overall grade of Pass (50% or higher).


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


The unit’s main focus is on building students’ understanding of grammar and syntax, and their capacities in translation. It thus prepares students for more advanced topics covered in THEL205.


The first assessment task aims to embed and test knowledge of basic grammar and syntax. Quizzes are staged to enable students to chart progress and embed knowledge required for the translation-focused assessments.


The second assessment task focuses on technical ability in translation at a level appropriate for beginning students (including the application of principles of grammar and syntax). It also builds expertise required for the final translation assignment and presentation.


The third assessment task places stronger weight on translation and interpretive ability. It simultaneously enables students to apply their knowledge of features of basic Latin grammar and syntax. As the final piece of assessment in the unit, it is the most complex, enabling students to reflect on their work across the unit and demonstrate skills at the appropriate level in translation, linguistic analysis, critical thinking, and communication.


Classes include similar informal tasks (both for individual students and small groups), preparing students for assessment tasks related to translation and grammar and syntax knowledge. The assessment strategy is concerned to provide appropriate scaffolding to enable students to build on their previous knowledge and apply it to new situations. Assessment tasks are therefore closely related to classroom activities, and are clearly related to learning outcomes and associated graduate attributes.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Quizzes on Latin morphology, grammar, and syntax. This assessment enables students to chart and demonstrate knowledge of Latin morphology and basic grammar and syntax.


LO1, LO2


Translation Forum (Latin to English; English to Latin). This assessment enables students to demonstrate basic ability in translation, and also apply knowledge of basic Latin grammar and syntax.


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10

Translation Assignment and Presentation. This assessment enables students to demonstrate ability in translation, reflect on the process of translation, and identify, interpret, and communicate features of the texts they are translating.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Bretzke, J. Consecrated Phrases: A Latin Theological Dictionary, Latin expressions commonly found in Theological Writings. Collegeville, MI: Liturgical Press, 2003.

Collins, J. F. A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin. Reprinted with corrections. Washington DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1991.

Glare, P. G. W. The Oxford Latin Dictionary. 2nd ed. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Harden, J. M. Dictionary of the Vulgate New Testament. 2nd edn. London: SPCK, 2007.

Kennedy, B., et al. Kennedy’s New Latin Primer. Rev. ed. Richmond: Tiger Xenophon, 2008.

Lewis, C. T. and C. Short, eds. Lewis and Short Online Latin Dictionary. Available at (accessed 23/08/13).

Stelten, L. F. Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1995.

Weber, R. and R. Gryson, eds. Biblia sacra iuxta vulgatam versionem. 5th ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: 1995.

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