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  • Semester 1Online Scheduled




THCP514 - Foundations in Liturgy

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning. This includes structured synchronous or asynchronous learning activities. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation and submission of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit introduces students to the fundamentals of Liturgical Studies. It defines what liturgy is and explores the rituals and symbols of contemporary Roman Catholic liturgy. It introduces the languages of the liturgy and key liturgical books and documents, and outlines the theological and pastoral principles governing liturgical celebration. It presents the scriptural and historical foundations of liturgy and it draws forth principles for preparing and evaluating effective liturgies. The aim of this unit is to provide students with a broad understanding of the theological principles, structures and fundamental concepts on which the study, preparation and celebration of liturgy are based.

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
LO1Demonstrate an understanding of the various languages of the liturgy (symbolic, kinetic, verbal, etc.) and the scriptural and historical foundations of the liturgyGC1, GC2
LO2Analyse the inter-relationship between local liturgical celebrations and universal typical editions of the liturgyGC7, GC8
LO3Demonstrate an ethical sensitivity when balancing the needs of individuals with those of local communities and the universal Church in liturgical celebrationsGC6, GC8
LO4Identify and navigate the Church’s liturgical books and documents on the liturgyGC1, GC2
LO5Work collaboratively to make informed decisions in the preparation of effective liturgical celebrations (especially the Eucharist)GC1, GC2, GC4, GC6


Topics will include:

  • Ritual and ritualising
  • Symbols, signals and signs
  • The languages of liturgy
  • Scriptural foundations of the liturgy
  • Historical development of the liturgy
  • The shape of the Mass
  • Lex orandi, lex credendi – Liturgical theology
  • Manifesting “the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church”
  • Liturgical leadership and liturgical ministries
  • Full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy
  • Liturgical books and documents on the liturgy
  • Typical editions and vernacular translations
  • Universal unity and local expressions (liturgical inculturation)
  • Individual preference and the needs of corporate worship
  • Principles for preparing and evaluating liturgy

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, online learning, video-conferencing, or supervision. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

The unit is normally offered in interactive online mode which enables students to engage in both synchronous and asynchronous learning activities – in live online-class interactions according to their self-devised schedule as individual learners. Online materials are carefully structured and sequenced in modules with built-in exercises and activities designed to support the achievement of the learning outcomes. Through live-online classes students are provided with the opportunity to work collaboratively in groups (GA7) to apply principles in practical activities which enable them to reflect critically on key information, analyse and integrate new information with existing knowledge, draw meaningful new connections, and then work individually to apply what they have learned to liturgies being prepared and celebrated in their own unique circumstances (GA7). Students are encouraged to reflect critically on their personal experience and observations in light of materials covered in the unit. Assessment tasks are integrated into and built upon modular unit materials but extend students beyond the modular materials to engage in analysis and research tasks which require them to apply the knowledge they have gained through completion of the unit’s readings, analyses and exercises.

The interactive online mode of this unit requires students to be independent learners, responsible for managing and modifying their own learning journey in response to frequent constructive feedback provided to them on their learning progress evidenced in exercises and assessment tasks. Students are encouraged to establish a regular study schedule for individual reading and online participation. Key to success in the online mode is regular reading, and interaction with fellow students – through online forums and live-classes students are provided with the opportunity to build a supportive and encouraging learning community so that even when studying at a distance they feel connected to their fellow learners and the lecturer as they proceed through the unit together.

Assessment strategy and rationale

To pass this unit students are required to attempt all assessment tasks and achieve a cumulative grade of Pass (50% or higher). The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to enable students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome.

Assessment Task 1: Forum Contributions require students to write online postings and responses to the work of their fellow students. This assessment task provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate and articulate their understanding of key aspects of the materials and concepts under consideration in this unit in a focused manner. Online posts and responses provide an opportunity for students to consider, peer-review and offer constructive feedback to each other on postings in light of knowledge gained through study and analysis of unit materials.

Assessment Task 2: Liturgy Exercises provide an opportunity for students to apply key principles studied in the unit. Through these targeted exercises students explore in a focused manner several key concepts of liturgical studies which are foundational for and related to the topic they will investigate in more detail in the major essay.

Assessment Task 3: requires students to research and write a Major Essay which enables them to engage in an extended investigation and critical consideration of a topic central to the unit, in dialogue with unit materials and other relevant primary and secondary sources. This assessment offers students the chance to demonstrate a synthesis of knowledge and insight gained throughout the unit and to apply it to a practical setting.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Forum Contributions: require students to demonstrate their knowledge of an aspect of liturgical studies in online posts and to respond critically to the postings of other students.


LO1, LO3, LO4

Liturgy Exercises: require students to demonstrate in practical exercises their knowledge of key concepts of liturgical studies through analysis and application of key principles.


LO2, LO4, LO5

Major Essay: requires students to research and write an extended critical consideration of a set essay topic synthesising and demonstrating understanding and application of central concepts covered in the unit.


LO1, LO3

Representative texts and references

Cooke, B. and G. Macy. Christian Symbol and Ritual: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Chupungco, Anscar J. What, Then, Is Liturgy? Musings and Memoir. Collegeville: Liturgical/Pueblo, 2010.

Foley, Edward. From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist. Rev. ed. Collegeville: Liturgical, 2009.

Kavanagh, Aidan. Elements of Rite: A Handbook of Liturgical Style. Collegeville: Pueblo/ Liturgical, 1990.

O’Loughlin, Thomas. The Rites and Wrongs of Liturgy: Why Good Liturgy Matters. Collegeville: Liturgical, 2018.

Pecklers, K. Worship: A Primer in Christian Ritual. Collegeville: Liturgical, 2003.

Richter, Klemens. The Meaning of Sacramental Symbols: Answers to Today’s Questions. Collegeville: Liturgical 1990.

Searle, Mark. Liturgy Made Simple. Collegeville: Liturgical, 1981.

Thiron, Rita. Preparing Parish Liturgies: A Guide to Resources. Collegeville: Liturgical, 2004.

Turner, Paul. Let Us Pray: A Guide to the Rubrics of Sunday Mass. Collegeville: Liturgical/Pueblo, 2006.

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