Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, which reflects the standard volume of learning for a unit in a University qualification of this Australian Qualifications Framework type.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Graduates of programs in Spirituality should develop knowledge and skills in this discipline and be able to reflect critically on the ways in which their personal development impacts upon their professional roles. This unit introduces students to the principles and practice of spiritual care across a range of health settings and different population groups. Students will examine the theory and practice of spiritual care, through an exploration and critical analysis of contemporary research. They will consider the origins and development of spiritual care as an authentic aspect of the holistic care of the individual. They will also have the opportunity to apply their learning to their vocational contexts. The aim of this unit is to provide students with a framework for understanding the role and nature of spiritual care within healthcare environments and to enable them to consider the implications of their learning for professional practice.

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 an understanding of the principles and practice of spiritual care in healthcare settings (GA1; GA5);

LO2 Analyse and reflect critically on current models of spiritual care and relate theories of spiritual care to their ministry setting (GA5);

LO3 Articulate a contemporary understanding of spiritual care, and evaluate the ways in which the role of spiritual care may further develop (GA5);

LO4 Assess the place of spiritual care in holistic medical care in clinical settings (GA1; GA5).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

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


Topics will include:

  • The genesis of the concept of Spiritual Care;
  • The nature of healthcare – theoretical and theological considerations;
  • Critical analysis of contemporary research;
  • The principles and practices of spiritual care;
  • Theoretical approaches and models of spiritual care;
  • The relationship between spiritual care and holistic healthcare.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

THSP508 will be delivered in multi-mode, that is, in various combinations of face to face and mediated learning environments, utilising strategies which may include:

  • Self-directed activities (such as completing scaffolded reading tasks or web-based exercises) which enable each student to build a detailed understanding of a topic;
  • Small-group tasks and activities (such as contributing to discussion forums or undertaking peer review) which enable students to test, critique, expand and evaluate their understandings;
  • Plenary seminars and webinars which enable students to link their understandings with larger frameworks of knowledge and alternative interpretations of ideas;
  • Practical or fieldwork activities which enable students to rehearse skills necessary to the discipline and to be mentored in that practice;
  • Critically reflective activities (such as a guided Examen or private journal-writing) which assist students to learn reflexively, that is, to identify their affective responses to the learning and to integrate their learning with action.

The unit is delivered with the expectation that participants are adult learners, intrinsically motivated and prepared to reflect critically on issues as well as on their own learning and perspectives.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to complete all assessment tasks and achieve an overall minimum grade of pass. All assessment tasks are designed for students to show their achievement of each learning outcome and graduate attribute. They require students to demonstrate the nexus between their learning, dispositions, and healthcare practice, and the evidence on which this demonstration is based.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

15-minute presentation with accompanying written notes (equivalent to 3000 words). This task is designed to provide students with the opportunity to test and review the quality of their learning in the context of peer discussion. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA5

Essay (4000-words). This task is designed to provide students with the opportunity to integrate their learning and engage critically with its implications.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA5

Representative texts and references

Burkhart, Lisa, Lee Schmidt and Nancy Hogan. “Development and Psychometric Testing of the Spiritual Care Inventory instrument,” Journal of Advanced Nursing 67 no.11 (2011): 2463–2472.

Daaleman, Timothy. “A Health Services Framework of Spiritual Care,” Journal of Nursing Management 20 (2012): 1021–1028.

Greym, Anthony. “The Spiritual Component of Palliative Care,” Palliative Medicine 8 (1994): 215-21.

Holmes, Cheryl. “Stakeholder views on the role of spiritual care in Australian hospitals: An exploratory study,” Health Policy 122 (2018): 389–395.

Musa, Ahmad, and David Pevalin. “Development of the Arabic Spiritual Care Intervention-Provision Scale,” Journal of Clinical Nursing 25 (2016): 2275–2284.

Mackinlay, Elizabeth. Palliative Care, Ageing & Spirituality. London: Jessica Kingsley Publications, 2012.

Moran, Francis. Beyond the Culture of Care. Strathfield NSW: St Paul Publications, 2006.

Taylor, Carol. “Rethinking Hopelessness and the Role of Spiritual Care When Cure Is No Longer an Option,” Journal of Pain & Symptom Management  44 no.4 (2012): 626-30.

Timmins, Francis, and Sarah Caldeira, “Understanding Spirituality and Spiritual Care in Nursing,” Evidence & Practice 31 no.22 (2017): 50-59.

Van Ommen, Léon. “Spiritual Care,” Theology 121 no.1 (2018): 43–47.

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