Early Christianity has many recognised masters of the spiritual life. The unit may draw on material from: Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus the Confessor and others. Often, key practices, beliefs and conceptual structures that inform their thought and spiritual practice are deeply influenced by philosophical thinking. This unit investigates the philosophical, spiritual and psychological structures evident in the writings and practices of some key ascetic thinkers. It reflects on their thought in light of contemporary approaches to spirituality and philosophical reflection. These may include: mindfulness meditation, interreligious philosophies and philosophy of life. In doing so, the unit attempts to articulate the contribution made by early Christian thought to ascetic philosophy and practice today.

Unit Code: AP9164C

Points: 24.0

Unit Level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit Discipline: Philosophy

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning Outcomes


Assess the selected primary texts carefully in relation to their purpose and historical context


Explain how the early Christian thinkers understand the relationship between philosophical, theological and spiritual approaches to ascetic thought and practice


Narrate an overview of the various philosophical structures used by early Christian thinkers, and evaluate them


Illustrate the significance of the topics and approaches of metaphysics for related areas in philosophical and theological enquiry


Set out a sustained critique of a philosophical position in a rigorous and self-directed manner.


Develop a topic of research in a critically rigorous, sustained and self-directed manner

Unit sequence

Two foundational units in philosophy or spirituality




Type Description Wordcount Weight (%)

Option 1: 6,000-word essay 90% week 16 1,000-word skeleton argument 10% week 13

OR Option 2

7000 100.0

Option 2: 4,000-word essay 60% week 16 1,000-word skeleton argument 10% week 13 2,000-word essay 30% week 14

OR Option 1

7000 100.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 20 Jul, 2017

Unit Record last updated: 2019-10-03 14:55:32 +1000