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EDRE515 Religious Education: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives , EDRE526 Introducing Religious Education , EDRE527 Religious Education Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment 1

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is an introduction to the various contexts of contemporary Religious Education and the different teaching methodologies associated with the discipline. The nature and purpose of Religious Education has undergone many changes in Australia since the Second Vatican Council. The National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) describes the aim of Religious Education in the 21st century this way:

‘Religious Education in Australian Catholic schools develops students’ knowledge and understandings of Christianity in the light of Jesus and the Gospel, and its unfolding story and diversity within contemporary Australian and global society. It expands students’ spiritual awareness and religious identity, fostering their capacities and skills of discerning, interpreting, thinking critically, seeking truth and making meaning. It challenges and inspires their service to others and engagement in the Church and the world.’ (2018, p,7)

Teachers, and potential teachers of Religious Education need to have the ‘pedagogical capabilities that model an inquiry disposition and build dialogue between the students’ experiences and cultural contexts and what the Catholic Church believes, celebrates, lives and prays’ (NCEC, 2018, p.15). The aim of this unit is to develop RE teachers’ capacities to achieve dialogue between the Catholic tradition and their own and their students’ experiences and to deepen their knowledge of the Catholic tradition and its particular relationship to Religious Education. The further aim of the unit is to understand the context of Religious Education in the current educational and societal setting, the relationship of Religious Education to the broader Catholic identity of schools, which includes aspects such as the prayer and liturgical life and the service action of the Catholic school. These contexts provide a basis for students to develop skills that apply to the teaching and learning of RE, and to creatively imagine the implementation of these skills to the classroom. 

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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Articulate an understanding of the different ways in which Religious Education has been conceptualized since Vatican II (APST 1.3, 2.1)GC1, GC7
LO2Recognise, explain and assess the possibilities of some contemporary approaches to Religious Education. Specifically describe the contribution of dialogue and recontextualization to Religious Education (APST 1.3, 2.1)GC2, GC3
LO3Describe, design, evaluate and implement a variety of teaching and learning strategies which cater for the diversity of students and individual differences in student learning (e.g. cognitive, physical, social, cultural) and integrate general capabilities and cross curriculum priorities in Religious Education (APST 3.4, 4.1)GC2
LO4Critically analyse, synthesise, develop, and implement a range of Religious Education learning and teaching activities and sequences for students which involve a variety of pedagogical approaches and resources (including safe and ethical use of ICT resources) appropriate to these year levels and Diocesan curriculum materials and their content (APST 2.2, 5.1, 7.2)GC2, GC6
LO5Develop and analyse examples that demonstrate the dynamic relationship between religious education and specific elements of Catholic life which pertain to Catholic identity. Some relevant examples would be the relationships between parents, parish and school, Sacramental programs or Service/experiential learning programs, with reference to either primary or secondary Religious Education (APST 2.2, 3.4, 7.2)GC1, GC8


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.3 - Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds

Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

2.1 - Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

2.2 - Content selection and organisation

Organise content into an effective learning and teaching sequence.

3.4 - Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning.

4.1 - Support student participation

Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.

5.1 - Assess student learning

Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.

7.2 - Comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements

Understand the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes required for teachers according to school stage.


Topics will include:

  • factors in the religious educational context (international, national, state, territory and local levels) including curriculum policies and Religious Education guidelines and perspectives that shape the identity of Religious Education in the primary and/or secondary year levels.
  • the concepts, substance and structure of curriculum content in Religious Education, including the key concepts of recontextualization and dialogue
  • contemporary understandings of the principles and practices that inform learning and teaching and how they are evidenced in Religious Education
  • specific professional practices and key pedagogical approaches related to teaching and learning in Religious Education contexts, and their theoretical underpinnings
  • particular issues in the teaching and learning that apply to Religious Education e.g. the hermeneutics of religious literacy
  • catering for a diverse range of learners in Religious Education
  • effective use of a range of resources for the teaching area, including ICT’s and technologies specific to Religious Education
  • pedagogical strategies to promote problem solving and critical thinking in Religious Education

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit uses an active learning approach to support postgraduate students in their engagement with advanced knowledge associated with contemporary theories related to religious education learning and teaching. Some examples of the active learning approach include, but are not confined to the use of case studies, peer-to-peer modelling and discussion methodologies.

Students explore the essential knowledge related to Religious Education through a series of online asynchronous interactive sessions. Students may also attend synchronous online webinars to participate in the construction and synthesis of this knowledge. Where required by cohorts, part or all of the unit could be delivered face-to-face with students engaging in lectures and workshops as well as students accessing digital resources and activities available through the Learning Management System.

This unit helps postgraduate students to understand the different ways RE has been conceptualised since Vatican II and how it is approached in the 21st century. Students will also examine how RE curriculum is developed in line with its purpose of the development of the whole person, and respecting cultural and religious diversity. It also highlights the significance and purpose of religious education learning and teaching in faith based schools through exploration of scholarly literature, individual reflection and group discussions. Lectures and workshops input further support this learning and teaching mode.

Mode of delivery: This unit may be offered in different modes to cater to the learning needs and preferences of a range of participants.

Attendance Mode

In a weekly attendance mode, students require face-to-face attendance in specific physical location/s. Students will have face-to-face interactions with lecturer(s) to further their achievement of the learning outcomes.

Intensive Mode

In an intensive mode, students require face-to-face attendance in weekends or any block of time determined by the school. Students will have face-to-face interactions with lecturer(s) to further their achievement of the learning outcomes.

Online Mode

This unit may be offered via online unscheduled learning activities (i.e. learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere) or scheduled learning activities (i.e. facilitated online seminars to enable online interaction).

In the synchronous seminar classes students engage and participate in the construction and synthesis of knowledge, while developing their knowledge of religious education. In the asynchronous Students are required to participate in a series of online interactive workshops which include activities, knowledge checks, discussion and interactive sessions. This approach allows flexibility for students and facilitates learning and participation for students with a preference for virtual learning. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively in the online environment.  

ACU Online

This unit will be delivered in online mode using an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, postgraduate students need to complete and submit two graded assessment tasks. The assessment strategy used allows students to demonstrate their knowledge related to Religious Education in faith based schools school in two ways: through an investigation of the literature and scholarly understandings of Religious Education; and through applying these understandings in a practical manner for learning and teaching for specified age group of students in an identified context.

In order to achieve this students are required to complete two tasks. The first task involves requires students to research the scholarly literature and present an extended written response focusing on the changing nature of Religious Education over time since Vatican II. The second task requires students to translate these theoretical understandings into practical teaching and learning activities for school age students in order to demonstrate their ability to apply knowledge of RE to their particular setting.

This task also requires students to identify how certain issues continue to challenge the Catholic educational community and how they might respond to these challenges.

This is a 10 credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video, workshops, and assignments etc. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1

Extended Written Response

Requires postgraduate students to demonstrate their understanding of Religious Education by synthesising factual and conceptual knowledge in an extended written response 


LO1, LO2, LO3

Assessment Task 2

Developing an educational resource

Requires students to apply their understanding of Religious Education through the design and development of an educational resource that is of particular relevance to their faith based context. The resource could be for either primary or secondary age students in a school or other setting.


LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Buchanan, M.T., & Gellel, A. (2019). Global perspectives on Catholic religious education in schools. Volume II, Learning and leading in a pluralist world (1st ed. 2019. ed.). Gateway East, Singapore: Springer.

Commonwealth Department of Education, Skills, and Employment. (2005). Disability Standards for Education 2005.

National Catholic Education Commission. (2018). Framing Paper Religious Education in Australian Catholic Schools. NCEC.

Moran, G. (2016). Missed opportunities: Rethinking Catholic tradition. Bloomington: iUniverse.

Pollefeyt, D., & Bouwens, J. (2014). Identity in dialogue: Assessing and enhancing Catholic school identity: Research methodology and research results in Catholic schools in Victoria, Australia (Christian religious education and school identity; v. 1). Zurich: Verlag.

Rossiter, G. (2018). Life to the full: The changing landscape of contemporary spirituality - implications for Catholic school Religious Education. Kensington NSW: ASMRE

Rymarz, R., Engebretson, K., & Hyde, B. (2021). Teaching Religious Education in Catholic Schools: Embracing a new era. Garratt Publishing.

Rymarz, R. & Sharkey, P. (eds). (2019). Moving from Theory to Practice: Religious Educators in the Classroom. Mulgrave: Vaughan Publishing.

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