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 Ignatian Spirituality and Spiritual Direction 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. In this unit, students examine the relationship between sexuality, intimacy and spirituality. Intimacy is the capacity to commit oneself to particular individuals in relationships that last over time, even though those relationships may call for significant sacrifice, compromise and ethical strength. The commitment begins with oneself. Knowing oneself makes it possible to be in an intimate relationship without taking over or losing self to the other. Intimacy, or deep friendship, is knowing another and allowing oneself to be known; this applies within marriage, the celibate vocation, and the single life. Intimacy with one’s self, is a prerequisite for intimacy with God and with the other. The unit requires a reflective element in which the student grows in his or her psychosexual awareness. This unit aims to help students explore what psychosexual maturity means and how sexuality, intimacy and spirituality relate in the human person. 

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 a working knowledge of psychosexual maturity and how that concept applies to them (GA3; GA5);

LO2 - Identify historical and contemporary Christian perspectives for understanding sexuality, intimacy and spirituality (GA1; GA3; GA5); 

LO3 - Analyse the intersections between sexuality, intimacy and spirituality (GA3; GA5);

LO4 - Evaluate the implications of sexuality, intimacy and spirituality on personal identity and functioning (GA1; GA3; GA5);

LO5 - Integrate fundamental principles and practices relating to sexuality, intimacy and spirituality within their own ministry context (GA1; GA3; GA5).

Graduate attributes

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

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

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


Topics will include:

  • The relationships between human spirituality, sexuality and intimacy;
  • A brief history of the intersection between sexuality, intimacy and spirituality;
  • Sexuality in the Bible and in the Church;
  • The role of spirituality in interpersonal relationships;
  • Intimacy and sexuality, ethical perspectives;
  • LGBTQI and Intimacy, sexuality and spirituality;
  • Developing psychosexual maturity;
  • Marriage, single life and religious life – sexuality, intimacy and spirituality.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

THSP616 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 spiritual practice, and the evidence on which this demonstration is based.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Critical reflection (1000 words). This task is designed to enable students to engage critically and reflectively with a chosen article/text and to consider its implications for their personal and professional growth. 


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA5

15-minute presentation (equiv. to 1500 words). This task is designed to provide students with the opportunity to research one of the topics studied and present their critical analysis to peers. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA5

Integrative essay (3500 words). This task is designed to enable students to consolidate their learning by reflecting critically on the unit content and considering its implications for personal and professional practice.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA3, GA5

Representative texts and references

Au, Wilkie, and Noreen Cannon. Urgings of the Heart: A Spirituality of Integration. New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1995.

Balswick, Judith K, and Jack O. Balswick. Authentic Human Sexuality. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2013.

Brennan, Dan. Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Engaging in the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women. Elgin, IL: Faith Dance, 2010.

Berry, Carmen Renee. The Unauthorised Guide to Sex and the Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005.

Cotter, Jim. Pleasure, Pain and Passion: Some Perspective on Sexuality and Spirituality. Sheffield, UK: Cairns Publication, 2003.

Ferder, Fran, and John Heagle. Your Sexual Self: Pathway to Authentic Intimacy. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1992

Hirsch, Debra. Redeeming Sex. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2015.

Martin, James. Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community can enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity. New York: Harper Collins, 2017.

West, Christopher. Theology Of The Body For Beginners. West Chester, PA.: Ascension Press, 2009

Whitehead, Evelyn, and James Whitehead. Wisdom of the Body: Making Sense of our Sexuality. New York, NY: Crossroad, 2001.

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