Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


Successful completion of all 8 foundational units AND THEL619 Introduction to Theological and Philosophical Research . The capstone unit will usually be taken during the last two semesters of coursework.


THSP628 Capstone Integrative Project (Spiritual Direction)

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 300 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 Spiritual Direction need to develop knowledge, understanding and skills in this discipline in this discipline and be able to reflect critically on the ways in which their personal development impacts upon their professional roles. This unit enables postgraduate students to fulfil the capstone requirements related to their award and is intended to be taken in the student’s final year. It directs, supports and encourages the integration of student learning by means of participation in an integrative seminar and completion of a dissertation in an area of interest that draws on the student’s prior learning and directs it towards an integrative treatment of a chosen topic. Students present their ideas to their peers and members of faculty and receive feedback within the seminar process. This unit enables students to engage in an extended piece of research writing. The aim of this unit is to provide students with the opportunity to consolidate and integrate their learning throughout their course, and to develop their skills in planning, implementing, and disseminating research in the area of Spiritual Direction. 

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 points of synthesis and integration between the theoretical and practical components of the Master of Spiritual Direction (GA7, GA9)

LO2 - Generate questions and insights in relation to a chosen project that draw on a rich variety of learnings from their studies in spiritual direction in the Ignatian tradition (GA8, GA10)

LO3 - Plan, execute and complete a major integrative project (GA8, GA9, GA10)

Graduate attributes

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively

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

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

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


The area of investigation is to be devised by the student. The project must:

  • Be on a topic relating to some aspect/s of spiritual direction;
  • Demonstrate awareness of the issues related to creative and effective communication of theological ideas;
  • Demonstrate management and evaluation of academic research;
  • Include a 1 hour (equivalent to 4000 words) presentation during the semester, highlighting the integration of learning throughout the course;
  • Include an extended piece of research and writing (equivalent to 12,000 words, which can incorporate text from the presentation) using appropriate academic conventions.

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.

The unit is normally offered in scheduled online mode, a way that blends the use of online delivery of learning materials and activities that can be undertaken synchronously and asynchronously. This means that students can undertake some learning activities on their own at times that do not depend on the availability of others, and other learning activities that are undertaken interactively with other students and teaching staff at the same time. Using scheduled online delivery means that students do not have to be at the same place as each other, but can interact remotely.

In order to benefit from this mode of learning, students need to be independently motivated. Units offered in the course normally follow a cycle: students complete preparatory activities before meeting together; in webinars, students work collaboratively with each other and the lecturer to clarify, extend and apply what they have learned; and after each collaborative session, students reflect critically on their personal experience and observations in light of materials covered in the unit. As the cycle is repeated, students bring new understandings to bear on further issues and ideas, so that each cycle of learning deepens the one before. Students co-construct a supportive and encouraging learning community through their active participation in classes as well as through offline engagement, such as through discussion boards.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy of this unit has been designed to allow students to showcase their comprehensive and integrated learnings over the course of their studies in spiritual direction.

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 direction, and the evidence on which this demonstration is based.

The project will be assessed by an academic other than the supervisor.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Presentation on the chosen project: (1 hour, including 10 minutes of class discussion (equiv. 4000 words). This task is designed to provide students with the opportunity to share and discuss their research with their peers and to receive feedback in a supportive environment. Material from the presentation will be integrated into Assessment Task 2.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Research project (12,000-words). This task is designed to provide students with the opportunity to synthesise their learning, to evaluate their research in terms of its strengths and limitations, and to engage in a critical discussion of its implications. The weighting of this task is necessary to enable students to engage in an extended piece of writing. The project will be assessed by an academic other than the supervisor.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

To be determined according to the area of focus, but the following represent the core texts used in the study of spiritual direction: 

Acklin, Thomas and Boniface Hicks. Spiritual Direction: A Guide for Sharing the Father’s Love. Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2017.

Alvis, Robert E. A Science of the Saints: Studies in Spiritual Direction. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2020.

Barry, William A, and William J. Connolly. The Practice of Spiritual Direction. San Francisco, CA: Harper, 2009.

Dyckman, Katherine, Mary Garvin, and Elizabeth Liebert. The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2001.

Fleming, David L. Draw Me into Your Friendship : A Literal Translation and a Contemporary Reading of the Spiritual Exercises. St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996.

Guenther, Margaret. Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction. Lanham, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield, 1992.

Maryks, Robert A. A Companion to Ignatius of Loyola: Life, Writings, Spirituality, Influence. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2014.

Palmer, Martin E. On Giving the Spiritual Exercises: The Early Jesuit Manuscript Directories and the Official Directory of 1599. St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996.

Ruffing, Janet. To Tell the Sacred Tale: Spiritual Direction and Narrative. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2010.

Thibodeaux, Mark E. Ignatian Discernment of Spirits in Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Care: Going Deeper. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press, 2020.

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