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THEL502 Latin A

Teaching organisation

This 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 involves a study of Ecclesiastical Latin through reading and translating original texts. It builds on the basic knowledge of pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary gained in Latin A.

 This unit is designed to further develop the knowledge and skills acquired in THEL502 Latin A and open up the world of biblical texts and theological scholarship which is essential to the study of ancient history and theology. Latin is the language of the Latin Bible (the Vulgate version) and a vast array of literatures of people and cultures surrounding the Mediterranean in the post Hellenistic age. Learning Latin therefore enables students to read foundational texts, access the works of central figures in the historic tradition in the original language, and engage in detailed research and interpretive study in theology and biblical studies.

This unit involves a study of Latin through reading and translating various Latin texts. Students are exposed to increasingly more complicated features of Latin. This builds to the main focus of the unit, which is developing understanding of these topics through translation and interpretive activities.

 Each week of semester there will be an opportunity to apply Latin knowledge, even after the first hour of study, to translating and investigating a genuine historical object from the ancient world which will demonstrate the value of learning (and continuing to learn) Latin. The purpose of this approach is to illuminate the way in which the Latin that is being learnt has real-world application to interpretive issues or resolving ambiguities in Latin texts. It is often the case that English translations of the Latin text either obscure its clarity or make explicit elements of translation that are only implicit in the original. These historical objects will include, but are not limited to a) liturgical texts, b) poetry, and c) hymns. Exposure to these genres provides experience with real historical data which serves to reinforce the learning of the Ecclesiastical Latin. It will also enthuse the student amid the more difficult weeks of learning paradigms and vocabulary by encouraging application of learning to genuine historical material.

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 - Work in a fully online environment to demonstrate a knowledge of advanced Ecclesiastical Latin grammar (GA5; GA10); 

LO2 - Read and translate complex Latin texts into English (GA4; GA5); 

LO3 - Translate complex English constructions into Latin (GA5; GA6); 

LO4 - Demonstrate comprehension of simple spoken Latin texts (GA5). 

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

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


Topics will include:

  • Latin syntax and morphology, as covered in the second half of the set text.
  • Further readings including liturgical texts, poetry and hymns.
  • Complex grammatical constructions introduced in specific texts.
  • A survey of the various literary genres of Ecclesiastical 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 are also emphasized, as students collaborate and support each other in raising and responding to questions of grammar, syntax, and translation.

THEL503 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-review 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

Assessment is based on three quizzes and weekly forum participation. Quizzes are designed to test retention and understanding of grammatical concepts. Forum participation involves translation of large portions of real Latin texts taken from a variety of Ecclesiastical Latin authors and genres. For this reason, unlike Latin A, there are no translation exercises. This is designed to enable students to engage with real Latin as a group and to learn from one another. Students should read the responses of fellow students and comment on difficult aspects of the translation process. Students are permitted to use all the resources at their disposal. The sole exception to this rule is a final unseen translation given at the end of the semester. Here students will have to rely on their own knowledge gained throughout the semester. All forum exercises and online classes should be seen as preparation for this final exercise.  

In order to pass this unit, students are required to attend 3 out of 4 online classes, participate in weekly forum discussions, and complete three quizzes and one translation assignment. In addition, students are also required to achieve an overall grade of Pass (50% or higher).

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Weekly Forum Participation (x 10). This assessment enables students to actively engage Latin grammar concepts.


(2% each)

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA10

Assessment Task 2: Quiz 1: Modules 1-3. This assessment enables students to test their knowledge of modules 1-3.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA10

Assessment Task 3: Quiz 2: Modules 4-6. This assessment enables students to test their knowledge of modules 4-6.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA10

Assessment Task 4: Quiz 3: Modules 7-9. This assessment enables students to test their knowledge of modules


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA10

Assessment Task 5: Translation Assignment. This assessment enables students to demonstrate ability in understanding of complex Latin sentences.



GA5, GA6

Representative texts and references

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

Allen, J.H. and Greenough, J.B. New Latin Grammar, Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1907; repr. 2006.

Blaise, A., A Handbook of Christian Latin: Style, Morphology, and Syntax [1955]. Trans. G. Roti. Washington DC: Georgetown University, 1994.

Diamond, W. Dictionary of Liturgical Latin, Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co., 1961; repr. 2007.

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

Lewis, C. and Short, C. (1989), A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The Oxford Latin Dictionary (2012), 2nd edn, 2 vols, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gryson, R. et al., Biblia Sacra Vulgata. 4th ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Gesellschaft, 1994. Kuhnmuench, O. Liturgical Latin, Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1939.

Lewis, C.T. and Short, C. eds. A Latin Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1879; or any later edition, including Lewis and Short Online Latin Dictionary,

Nova Vulgata sacrorum bibliorum edition. Vatican: Libreria Editrice, 1986.

Souter, A. A Glossary of Later Latin to 600 A.D. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1949. Gildersleeve, R. and Lodge, G. (1992), Gildersleeve’s Latin Grammar, 3rd edn, Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons.

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