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 Church History and Spirituality should develop knowledge and skills in these disciplines and be able to reflect critically on the ways in which their personal development impacts upon their professional roles. This unit addresses the subject of medieval Christian mysticism in Europe (1100‐1600) through the study of primary sources using significant authors from various linguistic traditions. The unit will help students reflect meditatively upon selected material and will invite them to relate the study of Christian mysticism to their own personal contexts and their spiritual formation. It aims to provide students with an understanding of common characteristics of mystical texts as well individual differences related to different historical contexts.

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 - Articulate a detailed knowledge of the history, content and context of selected mystical texts (GA8);

LO2 - Demonstrate a knowledge of the defining characteristics of mystical texts and individual differences between authors and their historical contexts (GA8);

LO3 - Reflect critically on medieval mysticism in dialogue with contemporary theology and spirituality (GA5);

LO4 - Reflect critically on the relevance of medieval mystical texts in light of their own spiritual journey and spiritual formation (GA5).

Graduate attributes

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

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include:

  • Medieval Mysticism: Its origins in Scriptures and Greek philosophy and its definitions;
  • Medieval Mysticism: Developments up to 1100 and the radical changes of the twelfth century;
  • Medieval Mysticism: 1100-1600—Selected Authors such as Meister Ekhart, Johannes Tauler, Marguerite Porete, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, Gerlach Peters, Teresa of Avila;
  • Assessing the relevance of figures studied to contemporary spirituality.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

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.

THSP611 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, you are required to complete all assessment tasks and achieve an overall minimum grade of pass. All assessment tasks are designed for you to show your achievement of each learning outcome and graduate attribute. They require you to demonstrate the nexus between your learning, dispositions, and spiritual practice, and the evidence on which you base this demonstration.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

1. Critical Reflection (3000-words) on the contribution of the spiritual writers studied to one’s personal spiritual development. This task is designed to support students’ personal appropriation of different spiritual approaches and emphases.




2. Textual study (3000-words) linking texts from two of the spiritual writers studied to contemporary spiritual practice. This task is designed to enable students to integrate their understanding of the historical and spiritual material of the unit and to consider its contemporary relevance.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Engen, John Van. Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life. The Devotio Moderna and the World of the Later Middle Ages. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.

Guigo II. The Ladder of Monks: A Letter on the Contemplative Life and Twelve Meditations. Translated by James Walsh and Edmund Colledge. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1981.

Hadewijch. The Complete Works. Translated by Columbia Hart. The Classics of Western Spirituality. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1980.

Jan van Ruusbroec. Boecsken der verclaringhe (Little Book of Enlightenment). Edited by Guido de Baere. Translated by Phayre Crowley and Helen Rolfson. Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis 101. Tielt and Turnhout: Lannoo and Brepols, 1989.

Leclercq, Jean. The Love of Learning and the Desire for God. A Study in Monastic Culture. Translated by Catharine Misrahi. New York: Fordham University Press, 1961.

Late Medieval Mysticism of the Low Countries. Edited by Rik Van Nieuwenhove, Robert Faesen and Helen Rolfson. The Classics of Western Spirituality. New York, and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2008.

Lubac, Henri de. Medieval Exegesis. The Four Senses of Scripture. Vol. 1. Translated by Marc Sebanc. Grand Rapids, MI and Edinburgh: William B. Eerdmans and T&T Clark, 1998; and Vol. 2. Translated by E.M. Macierowski. Grand Rapids, MI and Edinburgh: William B. Eerdmans and T&T Clark, 2000.

McGinn, Bernard. The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism. 5 vols. New York: Crossroad, 1991‐2012.

O’Walshe, Maurice, and Bernard McGinn. The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart. New York: Crossroad, 2010.

Raitt, Jill, ed. Christian Spirituality: High Middle Ages and Reformation. World Spirituality 17. An Encyclopaedic History of the Religious Quest. New York: Crossroad, 1987.

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