Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit





Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, and online learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This is an introductory unit with a focus on the discipline of practical theology. Vatican II urged Christians to read the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel message, an approach that is intrinsic to the discipline of practical theology. This unit explores the nature and methods of practical theology. Students will analyse contemporary events and contexts, in view of the Christian tradition, interdisciplinary reflection and practical engagement. 

Practical theological reflection enables students to effectively engage key issues facing contemporary culture and society. This critical exploration of the “signs of the times” has the potential to provide a contemporary theological context for deepening students’ understanding of how the Christian tradition actively responds and contributes to issues of human value for self and society. The aim of the unit is for students to analyse methods and perspectives in practical theology and apply a critical understanding of the relevance and implications of Christian belief and practice to the life of the church and diverse 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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe the key methodologies of practical theologyGC1
LO2Analyse how other disciplines contribute to practical theologyGC7
LO3Apply skills for bringing theological reflection into meaningful engagement with social, cultural and ecclesial contextsGC2


Topics will include: 

  • The purpose of practical theology: integrating theory and practice for the sake of a better world and the coming of God’s kingdom, “on earth as it is in heaven.” 
  • Models of practical theology, including correlational and contextual approaches, and Cardijn-based approaches (“see, judge, act”). 
  • The contribution of other disciplines, such as sociology and cultural studies, to practical theological reflection. 
  • Contemporary theologies of social critique. 
  • Engaging practical theology with reference to concrete pastoral and/or social situations and challenges, including the Australian ecclesial and cultural context. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, and online learning. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.  

The unit is normally offered in attendance mode or multi-mode. Students learn through formally structured and sequenced learning activities that support the achievement of the learning outcomes. Students are asked to critically reflect, analyse, and integrate new information with existing knowledge, draw meaningful new connections, and then apply what they have learned. Collaborative and peer learning is also emphasised.  

THCP106 emphasises students as active, adult learners. Students are recognised as adult learners who engage best when what they are learning is relevant to them and gives them the opportunity to be responsible for their own learning. In many ways, the student is the one who drives the learning forward, and their active participation in this unit is essential. Learning is designed to be an engaging and supportive experience, which helps students to develop critical thinking and reflection skills.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome. 

Given the alignment of learning outcomes to the assessment tasks, in order to pass this unit, students are required to complete all items of assessment and achieve an mark of s 50% or higher.  

Task 1 asks students to provide a portfolio of analytical reflections and responses to key readings in practical theology to address learning outcomes 1 and 2. Students must demonstrate understanding of key methodologies and the contribution of other disciplines to practical theology.  

Task 2 invites students to provide an outline of the final essay by identifying a suitable method and issue for the task. 

Task 3 asks students to apply a method from practical theology and learning from related disciplines to a chosen issue, so to particularly demonstrate achievement of learning outcome 3. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Portfolio of Reflections on Key Readings: Require students to demonstrate their engagement with key texts to demonstrate their grasp of practical theology.


LO1, LO2

Outline of Final Essay Proposal: Require students to choose a suitable method of practical theology to explore a chosen pastoral or social issue.


LO1, LO3

Final Essay: Require students to demonstrate skills for bringing theological reflection into meaningful engagement with social, cultural and ecclesial contexts.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Representative texts and references

Bass, Dorothy and Craig Dykstra, eds.  For Life Abundant: Practical Theology, Theological Education, and Christian Ministry.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.  

Bennett, Zoe and Elain Graham, eds. Invitation to Research in Practical Theology. London: Routledge, 2018.  

Bevans, Stephen.  Models of Contextual Theology. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1992. 

Graham, Elaine,, eds., Theological Reflections: Methods and Theological Reflection: Sources.  London: SCM Press, 2005 and 2008 respectively. 

Killen, Patricia O'Connell & John de Beer. The Art of Theological Reflection. New York: Crossroad, 1994. 

Kinast, Robert.  Let Ministry Teach. A Guide to Theological Reflection. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1996. 

Miller-McLemore, Bonnie, ed. The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014.  

Osmer, Richard. Practical Theology: An Introduction. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.  

Veling, Terry. Practical Theology: On Earth As It Is In Heaven. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2005. 

Whitehead, James & Evelyn.  Method in Ministry: Theological Reflection and Christian Ministry. New York: The Seabury Press, 1983.  

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