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THMM500 Contemporary Approaches to Pastoral Practice, Communication and Group Processes and THMM509 Theology for Mission and Ministry


THCP522 - Ministry Practicum I

Teaching organisation

This unit is equivalent to 150 hours of focused learning per semester. These are based on reflective practices for adult focussed learning: journaling, personal reading, and guided conversations with placement supervisor and local feedback groups. 

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is focused upon the theological formation of candidates for roles within a variety of ecclesial ministries. Within the context of an identified and supervised pastoral placement, or practicum, it offers participants the opportunity to integrate theoretical knowledge of ministry with the praxis and reflection through which it finds an expression. It provides an intellectually rigorous and formative context in which the necessary connection between academic study and pastoral practice can be investigated, appropriated and enacted. This then enables the tasks of ministry to challenge and enrich the participant’s academic study and for this study to challenge and enrich the participant’s practice of ministry.

The unit is offered by the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy and in partnership with the relevant Diocese, Parish, Ecclesial Community, or Institution for whom the student is preparing for ministry. Where the lecturer in charge is not also the practicum supervisor, they will work together in framing each student’s specific learning agreement, contextualised within the ministry for which they are preparing. 

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- Apply learning in the fields of Ecclesiology, Theological Anthropology and the Mission of the Church to describe the ministries to be enacted in a particular placement (GA5; GA7);

LO2 - Critically analyse the various dimensions of those ministries in relation to Theological Anthropology and the Mission of the Church, demonstrating an integration of theory and reflective practice (GA4);

LO3 - Critically reflect on and evaluate their own gifts for the placement’s specific ministry, identifying contributing skills, and areas in need of growth and development (GA4; GA5).

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 


The specific content of this practicum is determined primarily by the Learning Agreement drawn up by the participant, in consultation with the supervisor for the placement and the LIC (if different to the placement supervisor). The LIC is named by the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, and the supervisor is named by the relevant Diocese, Parish, Ecclesial Community, or Institution for whom the participant is preparing for ministry. The same person may be LIC and Practicum supervisor, but where these two roles are played by different people, the nominated supervisor is the contact person during the time of the Practicum, and assessment pieces are graded by both supervisor and LIC and submitted by the LIC. This agreement takes into account the context of the agreed placement and the particular learning needs of the student. The broad areas of content which are typically covered include:

·       Focused reading dealing with issues in ministry that closely relate to the chosen practicum experience;

·       Critical reflection on models of ministry being offered within or that might be most suitable to the placement;

·       Reflective practice on the students’ experiences of ministry and how this informs their vocational direction;

·       The specific ministry context and its networks with the wider ministry of the church.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is equivalent to 150 hours of focused learning per semester. These are based on reflective practices for adult focussed learning: journaling, personal reading, and guided conversations with placement supervisor and local feedback groups. The local feedback group is organised by the participant, following consultation and approval with the Supervisor, within one month of the placement.  The aim of this group is to accompany and verify the participant’s progress and growth. The role description of the local feedback group, specific to each Practicum, will be provided in the learning agreement.  Adult learning theory frames this unit’s exploration of collaboration between pastoral ministers, members of faith communities and clergy in the exploration of their placement cultures. In particular, transformative learning theory informs the units’ approach to learning about ecclesial cultures as an attitude or orientation to ministry, while guiding the development of appropriate pastoral ministry tools for audits and pastoral planning.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures are employed to meet the unit objectives consistent with University assessment requirements. Tasks commence in the preparatory stage of the unit, wherein the participants are required to demonstrate how their theoretical foundations guide and shape each Practicum before they start. Critical reflection and journaling on pastoral experience is chosen as a central thread throughout the unit, so as to facilitate the integration of theory and praxis. Presentations to other adult learners are an effective assessment strategy to enable and demonstrate the assimilation born of communication and translation to people outside the participant’s placement. In this way, participants complete the unit in a position to effectively implement their learnings in their pastoral and ecclesial ministries.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Development and Implementation of Learning Agreement 


LO3, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA7

Portfolio developed from selections from weekly reflective journaling

This portfolio will involve a short weekly critical reflection on the participant’s experience in a given role during their placement. The participant will choose and submit four of these in a combined portfolio with concluding reflection on their learning.  


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5, GA7

Final Presentation of learnings (15-minute presentation)

Participants will present an integrated summary of their learning to other participants taking the unit, or members of their local feedback group. A written version of the presentation will be submitted before the oral version (in the form of an accompanying booklet or handbook). In this way, the oral presentation constitutes a further context for reflection, affirmation and /or critique of the learning. This will allow participants to evaluate and verify their learning in relation to the nexus between theory and practice, and within the context of their own personal and ministerial development.


LO4, LO5

GA4, GA5     

Representative texts and references

Buxton, Graham. Dancing in the Dark: The Privilege of Participating in the Ministry of Christ. Carlisle: Paternoster, 2001

Carroll, Michael and Gilbert, Maria C. On Being A Supervisee.  Kew: VIC, PsychOz Publications, 2011.

Farber-Robertson, Anita. Learning while Leading: Increasing Your Effectiveness in Ministry. New York: Alban, 2000.

Hightower, James and Gilliam, W. Craig.  A Time for a Change? Revisioning Your Call.  Bethesda: Alban, 2000.

Kaldor, Peter and Bullpitt, Rod.  Burnout in Church Leaders. Adelaide: Openbook, 2001.

Kelly, E., Personhood and Presence: Self as a Resource for Spiritual and Pastoral Care. London & New York, NY: T & T Clark, 2012.

Lott, David B. (ed.) Conflict Management in Congregations. Bethesda: Alban, 2001

McNeal, Reggie. A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2000.

Trumbauer, Jean M. Sharing the Ministry: A Practical Guide for Transforming Volunteers into Ministers.  Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1999.

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