This religious history unit introduces students to the place of the Christian churches in Australian society from the colonial period to the present. It considers a number of methodological approaches and the work of a range of representative historians. Themes covered include sectarianism, church-state relations, denominational histories, ecumenism, migration and changing religious demographics.

Unit code: CH3125B (Approved)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Church History

Proposing College: Eva Burrows College

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Learning outcomes


Analyse significant events and people who have made a contribution to the history of Christianity in Australia


Compare and contrast a range of competing historical interpretations of Christianity in Australia


Critically interpret primary and secondary sources and use them appropriately


Construct a coherent historical argument, relevant to the needs of the contemporary church, using the conventions of the discipline of history.


Articulate the value of historical awareness for the present identity and mission of Australian churches [Level 3 only].

Unit sequence

CH129B Introduction to Church History or equivalent


Lectures, discussion, forum engagement, online videos, web links, reading.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Breward, Ian. A History of the Churches in Australasia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. (recommended for purchase)
  • Carey, Hilary M. Believing in Australia: A Cultural History of Religions. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1996.
  • ______. God’s Empire: Religion and Colonialism in the British World c. 1801-1908. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
  • Emilsen, William W. and Susan Emilsen, eds. The Uniting Church in Australia: The First 25 Years. Melbourne: Circa, 2003.
  • Hogan, Michael. The Sectarian Strand: Religion in Australian History. Melbourne: Penguin, 1987.
  • Hutchinson, Mark. Iron in Our Blood: A History of the Presbyterian Church in NSW 1788-2001. Sydney: Ferguson Publications / Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity, 2001.
  • Jupp, James, ed. Encyclopedia of Religion in Australia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Kaye, Bruce, ed. Anglicanism in Australia: A History. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2002.
  • Murray, Iain H. Australian Christian Life from 1788: An Introduction and Anthology. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1988.
  • Manley, Ken. From Woolloomooloo to ‘Eternity’: A History of Australian Baptists. 2 vols. Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2006.
  • O’Brien, Anne. God’s Willing Workers: Women and Religion in Australia. Sydney: University of Sydney Press, 2005.
  • O’Brien, Glen, and Hilary Carey. Methodism in Australia: A History. Farnham, Surrey and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015.
  • O'Farrell, Patrick. The Catholic Church and Community: An Australian history. Sydney: New South Wales University Press, 1992.
  • Thompson, Roger. Religion in Australia: A History. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2002.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

2,500 word essay

0 50.0

1,000 word primary source analysis

0 20.0

500 word post on discussion board

0 10.0

500 word post on discussion board

0 10.0

500 word post on discussion board

0 10.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 19 Oct, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2019-11-15 14:23:32 +1100