VCE Religious Education

Pathways in VCE Religious Education

The study of Religious Education is compulsory for each year of study at Avila College. In Year 11, students must study a religious education unit for at least one semester. Year 11 students may choose either Religion and Society Unit 1 and/or Texts and Traditions Unit 1, or Religion and Society Units 3&4. Year 12 students may choose either School Based Religious Education (3 periods per cycle and not a VCE subject) or Religion and Society Units 3&4.

Religion and Society Unit 1

The role of religion in society

In this unit students explore the origins of religions and the role of religions in the development of society, identifying the nature and purpose of religion over time. They investigate the contribution of religion generally to the development of human society. They also focus on the role of religious traditions over time in shaping personal and group identity. Students examine how individuals, groups and new ideas have affected and continue to affect religious traditions. The unit provides an opportunity for students to understand the often complex relationships that exist between individuals, groups, new ideas and religious traditions broadly and in the Australian society in which they live.

There are three areas of study:

  • The nature and purpose of religion
  • Religion through the ages
  • Religion in Australia

A variety of assessment is used in this unit:

  • Research
  • Essay
  • Presentation
  • Biography
  • Examination

For more detailed information about the Religion and Society Unit 1 course and assessment, click here

Texts and Traditions Unit 1

In this unit students examine the place of texts and their literary forms within a religious tradition. Story-telling is one of the major literary forms in religious traditions; other forms include law, prophecy, sacred songs, reflection and instruction. Students explore the importance of texts at the source of a tradition and how their meaning for the earlier and continuing tradition might be found and described. The process of searching for and giving expression to the meaning of text is called exegesis. This unit introduces students to basic methods of exegesis to bring about a deeper awareness of how texts came about, and the meaning of texts to the religious tradition. This unit also explores how texts have been used by people both within and beyond the religious tradition to bring meaning to issues or ideas in a new cultural setting. This unit requires the study of texts in a variety of literary forms. The texts may come from one religious tradition or from a range of religious traditions.

There are three areas of study:

  • Exploring literary forms
  • The formation and exegesis of text
  • Later uses and interpretations of sacred texts

A variety of assessment is used in this unit:

  • Open Book Test
  • Research
  • Presentation
  • Examination

For more detailed information about the Texts and Traditions Unit 1 course and assessment, click here

Religion and Society Unit 3 – The Search for Meaning

This unit requires students to reflect on: the relationship that religions have with society and the role they can play in that society; the notion of faith and how it is expressed by individuals and communities; and the ways in which religions provide meaning in people’s lives, especially when their faith is tested. At Avila we study the Roman Catholic Tradition as the case study for exploring all of these concepts.

There are three areas of study:

  • Responding to the search for meaning
  • Expressing meaning
  • Significant life experience, religious beliefs and faith.

Specifically we study the nature and purpose of the central beliefs of Catholic Christianity with a particular focus on:

  • the way Catholics make sense of their belief in God
  • the way Catholics understand their relationship with creation ( the environment)
  • the way Catholics make sense of pain, suffering and death with a discussion of what happens after death

This means that some of the “Big Questions” that all humans ask are explored. Catholics respond to these questions in a range of ways by expressing their beliefs through their rituals, texts, significant life experiences and other aspects of religion. Students need to explore these expressions of beliefs and identify ways in which they engender and nurture meaning in life.

The students finish the semester by exploring how the theory they have been discussing has been experienced by a person in the community. To do this they look at the life of C.S.Lewis – the author of the Narnia Chronicles. The text they study in this section is his account of how he dealt with the death of his wife in his book A Grief Observed.


Religion and Society Unit 4 – Challenge and Response

This unit requires students to draw conclusions about the capacity of religious traditions to respond to challenges posed by society and, correspondingly, how the traditions shape the values of, or pose challenges to, the societies in which they exist.

There are two areas of study:

  • Challenge and response
  • Interaction of religion and society

This unit will require students to examine the history of the Roman Catholic Tradition across a broad sweep of history. They will briefly explore challenges such as:

  • heresy and division in Christianity
  •  power and subsequent corruption within the Church
  • the rise of science in the Modernist period
  • the rise of secularism
  • polarization within the Catholic Church
  • slavery in the contemporary world
  • refugees in the contemporary world


The students will look briefly at this range of challenges drawing conclusions about the relationship between religion and society. Examined briefly are the Apostolic period, the Medieval period, the Modernist period and Vatican II. The students will then focus on one of the challenges and research the context of the challenge, the stance of the Church over time towards the challenge, and the responses of the Church. Finally, they will evaluate the effectiveness of the Church’s responses.


There is a range of assessment tasks on each of the topics above. Most are either essays or short answer questions. There is also a 2 hour examination in November.

For more detailed information about the Religion and Society Units 3&4 course and assessment, click here


School Based Year 12 Religious Education Program:

During their time at Avila students are called to live a Gospel life as demonstrated by Jesus Christ. Students are challenged to reflect on and explore their Christianity, both philosophically and actively, through the classroom program, Reflection Days and community-based projects.

The Year 12 Religious Education program called “Being Catholic Today” is presented to students  in a topic based format. The course includes lectures and tutorials. The tutorial lessons are clearly defined, structured and directed lessons containing a combination of the following: classroom teaching, individual research, classroom discussion, summary, debate and presentation.

Topics are as follows:

1. The ‘Faith, Philosophy and a personal Ethic’ unit confronts students with some of the questions that challenge people of faith in the modern world by exploring responses to meta questions in the context of some of the great thinkers and events of the past.

2. An examination of ‘The Seven Deadly Sins,’ looks at the impact of each sin on the person and on the wider community and is contrasted with the Seven Catholic Virtues.

3. Further, a study of Global Ethics examines the role of ethics in contemporary global issues.

4. Students explore ‘Religion in the Arts’ presenting ways that religion and religious ideas are expressed in art and music from a theological perspective.

5. ‘Jesus of History – Christ of Faith,’ investigates the development of the early Church’s understanding of the human and divine natures of Christ.

6. ‘Spirituality as an expression of Faith,’ supports the formation and personal understanding of the impact of religion in students’ lives. Throughout the semester, students participate in a range of class group and whole school liturgical experiences.

Skills are developed in the areas of analysis, evaluation, application of knowledge and design.

The study of religion can be combined in innovative ways to prepare students for a range courses and careers including: Law, Education, Journalism, International Studies, Psychology, Social Work, Counselling, Medicine, Religious Professions, and Non-profit Organisations.

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