Unit overview and content

This unit provides students with the opportunity to study the cultural, historical and political context of the life of Mary MacKillop Australia’s’ first Church – recognised Saint. An understanding of culture is intrinsic to any study of persons and eras. Culture dictates who we are and how we behave. This course looks at the background of Mary MacKillop and her ancestors in the Lochaber district of the Inner Hebrides in the west coast of Scotland. One very disruptive event in Scotland’s history was the Highland Clearances which, though devastating at the time, meant that the Colonies of the British Empire were enriched with many Scottish migrants. Mary’s parents were from the MacKillop and MacDonald Clans,  the latter was a sept of the former meaning that Mary’s mother’s clan was superior to that of her father. The Highland Clearances meant that Mary MacKillop was born Australian rather than Scottish.

Equally important in human flourishing is the historical, political and cultural context of peoples’ lives. These aspects will be addressed as the context for the social and educational changes Mary MacKillop introduced. No story of Mary MacKilllop would be complete without reference to Fr Julian Tenison Woods, her inspiration and the ‘Father Founder’ of the Institute of St Joseph they founded.  Finally, given the sceptical atmosphere of our 21 century world-view the notions of sainthood, miracles and all associated concepts will be discussed with a view to understanding the Spirit that energized Mary MacKillop and ultimately the spirituality which underpinned her educational and social endeavours. Mary is presented within the unit as a model of the spirituality that is fitting for contemporary Australians.

Assumed Knowledge 

THEO800 & THEO801

Study hours

11 hours per week for 11 week session, comprised of

  • At least 1 hour per week for online lectures
  • At least 4 hours per week of reading.
  • At least 6 hours per week of directed study, including optional and assessable online activities.

Teaching methods

Online lectures; online activities; guided reading; scaffolded assessments; feedback on assessments.

Indicative Assessment

At the Institute we use a range of assessment tasks, including essays, research papers, online posts, critical reflections, projects and praxis exercises. Within a unit of study each set of assessment tasks is designed as an integral part of your learning experience. These tasks vary across units and programs. All assessment tasks are aligned to the Australian Qualifications Framework level appropriate for graduate awards.