Stage 1 | Subject outline | Version control

Spiritualities, Religion, and Meaning Stage 1
Subject outline

Version 1.0
Accredited in June 2021 for teaching at Stage 1 from 2022.  Editorial changes may be made during the implementation process.
Stage 1 Religion Studies will be taught for the last time in 2022.

Stage 1 | Graphic Banner

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Subject description

Subject description

Spiritualities, Religion, and Meaning is a 10‑credit or 20‑credit subject at Stage 1.

Australia is a land of many spiritualities and religions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spiritualities are at least 65,000 years old, forming part of the oldest continuous cultures on the planet. Since Australia was colonised in the late 18th century, spiritualities and religions have arrived with many different groups of migrants, making this country one of the most multicultural and religiously diverse in the world. 

While their definitions are widely contested, spirituality and religion both invite engagement with the transcendent, and provide meaning, purpose, and a sense of belonging. Spiritualities and religions can inform an individual’s identity, as well as their interconnection with creation.

In this subject, teachers and students use one or more ‘big ideas’ to frame inquiry questions; to explore issues, concepts, and ideas; and to reflect on personal and shared meaning within one or more spiritualities and/or religions. 

At Stage 1, students develop and demonstrate their understanding of the influence of spiritual and/or religious perspectives on a local, national, or global community, by engaging with one or more images, artefacts, texts, documentaries, or feature films. They collaborate with others to develop, apply, and reflect on their understanding of some spiritual and/or religious principles that underpin social‑justice actions within the school or broader community; and they investigate a contemporary issue linked to one of the big ideas.


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Capabilities

The capabilities connect student learning within and across subjects in a range of contexts.

The SACE identifies seven capabilities.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Capabilities | Literacy

Literacy

In this subject, students extend and apply their literacy by, for example:

  • understanding and analysing various texts or text types, such as sacred texts, religious art, paintings, friezes, frescoes, sculptures, or iconography
  • observing and understanding symbolic language, such as ideograms, art, movement, posture, or gesture
  • understanding the relevance of context, purpose, bias, intent or message, inference, use of pause or silence, accuracy, objectivity, and authority
  • understanding that cultural and religious literacy involves applying concepts (and using words) particular to religions, such as prayer, pilgrimage, sacraments, adherents, transcendence, diaspora, and sentient
  • understanding and appreciating linguistic diversity within and across religious and spiritual traditions, such as social and historical context, language, dialect, audience, genre, and nuances of translations
  • graphically recording and/or communicating spatial relationships of sacred spaces, including mapping, symbols, photographs, plans and illustrations
  • analysing primary and secondary sources
  • acknowledging sources appropriately.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Capabilities | Numeracy

Numeracy

In this subject, students extend and apply their numeracy by, for example:

  • identifying, collecting, interpreting, and/or recording relevant quantitative information, such as Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census data, graphs, statistics, and surveys
  • appreciating and analysing concepts of time, space, and numbers, as conveyed in sacred texts
  • designing documents for surveying or recording or making observations of relevant attitudes, perspectives, and religious world views
  • reflecting on spatial and kinaesthetic awareness when participating in or observing rituals and ceremonies.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Capabilities | Information and communication technology (ICT)

Information and communication technology (ICT) capability

In this subject, students extend and apply their ICT capability by, for example:

  • demonstrating knowledge and application of appropriate and ethical use of ICTs when researching and communicating
  • working independently and collaboratively in effective use of ICT to express spiritual/religious ideas and opinions
  • communicating in a variety of ICT modalities — such as text, images, symbols, multimedia, and music — for different purposes and audiences.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Capabilities | Critical and creative thinking

Critical and creative thinking

In this subject, students extend and apply their critical and creative thinking by, for example:

  • creating and connecting ideas using text, imagery, analogy, and symbolism
  • imagining new possibilities and solutions for religious, cultural, and societal issues, designed to contribute to social justice and the common good
  • drawing conclusions from evidence, viewpoints, reasoning, argument, and expression, as a basis for advocacy, outreach, service learning, and other critical action
  • using metacognition to rationalise decisions, hypothesise, analyse thought processes, and justify evaluations.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Capabilities | Personal and social

Personal and social capability

In this subject, students extend and apply their personal and social capability by, for example:

  • reflecting upon feedback from peers, teachers, and others to analyse factors that enhance or limit their personal and social capability 
  • creatively using any of a range of devices, via a variety of contemporary ICT platforms, such as social media, electronic meetings, blogs, vlogs, or posts.  
  • recognising and reflecting upon opportunities for personal, social, and spiritual development through involvement in communal activities such as a retreat, liturgies, worship, and other rituals 
  • developing agency to investigate, discuss, evaluate and act upon contested personal and socio‑cultural issues through a spiritual and/or religious lens
  • developing leadership by proposing, implementing, and monitoring strategies to address prioritised needs at a local, regional, or global level
  • communicating in different ways with relevant members of the community (primary sources) in interfaith dialogues, interviews, speeches, discussions, observations, field trips, excursions, surveys and electronic meetings.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Capabilities | Ethical understanding

Ethical understanding

In this subject, students extend and apply their ethical understanding by, for example:

  • identifying religiously derived ethical codes and social‑justice principles that exist within, between, and outside religious communities, including principles relating to human rights, sustainability, and working for peace
  • articulating and justifying their ethical positions, while respecting others’ culture, personal experience, world views, and ethical viewpoints
  • identifying and considering ideology, consumerism, and socio‑economic models, in order to reflect with empathy and act with ethical understanding
  • planning, implementing, and reviewing strategies to address injustice and inequality.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Capabilities | Intercultural understanding

Intercultural understanding

In this subject, students extend and apply their intercultural understanding by, for example:

  • reflecting upon the relationship between culture and individual identity, speaking with and increasing their understanding of people of diverse cultural, linguistic, and spiritual/religious heritages
  • analysing the complex and dynamic nature of knowledge, belief, and practices within different social, religious, and cultural contexts across the world and throughout history
  • identifying the challenges and benefits of living and working in a culturally, religiously, and linguistically diverse local and global community
  • acknowledging and analysing the relationship between cultures, values, and practices of religious, social, and political institutions.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, cultures, and perspectives

In partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and schools and school sectors, the SACE Board of South Australia supports the development of high-quality learning and assessment design that respects the diverse knowledge, cultures, and perspectives of Indigenous Australians.

The SACE Board encourages teachers to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and perspectives in the design, delivery, and assessment of teaching and learning programs by:

  • providing opportunities in SACE subjects for students to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, and contemporary experiences
  • recognising and respecting the significant contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Australian society
  • drawing students’ attention to the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and perspectives from the past and the present
  • promoting the use of culturally appropriate protocols when engaging with and learning from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.  

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Learning requirements

Learning requirements

The learning requirements summarise the knowledge, skills, and understanding that students are expected to develop and demonstrate through their learning in Stage 1 Spiritualities, Religion, and Meaning.

In this subject, students are expected to:

  1. apply inquiry skills to research, analyse, and evaluate spiritual and/or religious perspectives on big ideas, enduring questions, or contemporary issues
  2. reflect on spiritual and/or religious concepts, experiences, beliefs, and values, and how they contribute to a sense of personal and shared meaning
  3. explore spiritual and/or religious perspectives and how they influence communities in local, national, and global contexts
  4. apply spiritual or religious principles to promote human, community, and planetary flourishing
  5. develop independent and collaborative communication skills to share ideas and express informed opinions.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Content

Content

For a 10‑credit subject, students study one or two big ideas.

For a 20‑credit subject, students study two or three big ideas.

Students explore key beliefs, values, and practices of one or more spiritualities or religions. They engage with big ideas individually and in collaboration with others, through imaginative exploration, research, dialogue, open questioning, and empathic listening.

The following six big ideas frame learning in this subject by provoking thought and inviting inquiry into spiritual and/or religious perspectives in context. Each big idea is briefly characterised below, and accompanied by example questions which are not exhaustive. 

Big ideas

  1. Growth, belonging, and flourishing
  2. Community, justice, and diversity
  3. Story, visions, and futures
  4. Spiritualities, religions, and ultimate questions
  5. Life, the universe, and integral ecology
  6. Evil and suffering.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Content | Growth, belonging, and flourishing

Growth, belonging, and flourishing

People grow and develop within environments influenced by cultures, spiritualities, and religions. Spiritualities and religions concern themselves with our origins, human and communal life, and ultimate destiny. The personal quest to flourish, and develop identity is contextualised and influenced by personal relationships, families and communities, including spiritual and/or religious communities. This journey may be gradual and life‑long. 

For example:

  • Who am I and how do I flourish?
  • How do spiritualities and religions contribute to human contentment?
  • How do spiritualities and religions relate to, and express the quest for, meaning and wisdom?

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Content | Community, justice, and diversity

Community, justice, and diversity

Human societies are culturally rich, complex, and interdependent. While they foster identity and belonging, they also often contain inequalities, power imbalances, violence, extremism, and injustices. As cornerstones of civilisation, spiritualities and religions can play an important role in nurturing fairer societies.

For example:

  • How do spiritualities and religions engage with diversity?
  • How have some governments sought to use religion as a means of social uniformity, and in what circumstances has diversity prevailed instead?
  • How do spiritualities and religions shape an understanding of community; how do they foster mutual respect, service, and advocacy for justice and the common good?

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Content | Story, visions, and futures

Story, visions, and futures

Stories, texts and oral traditions share understandings of deities, ancestor-beings, prophets, martyrs, founders, and visionaries as well as beliefs, symbols and rituals. Interdisciplinary analysis of the context and meaning of sacred traditions, stories, and documents can lead to a greater understanding of their authority, wisdom, significance over time, and the contemporary challenges they present to local and global communities.

For example:

  • In what ways are stories (written/spoken/sung/depicted) significant for spiritualities and religions? 
  • How has a sacred text/story/site/tradition been understood within a spirituality/religion over time?
  • How significant is the relationship between story and place within a spirituality/religion?

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Content | Religions, spiritualities, and ultimate questions

Religions, spiritualities, and ultimate questions

The study of religions and spiritualities also involves engagement with other disciplines and increasing awareness of complex worldviews. This can lead to dialogue about knowledge, truth claims, and consideration of ultimate ethical, epistemological, and metaphysical questions.

For example:

  • How do religious and spiritual ways of knowing relate to other types of learning?
  • What can be known about life, death, the mind, or the soul?
  • How do people find ultimate meaning in and through religions and/or spiritualities?

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Content | Life, the universe, and integral ecology

Life, the universe, and integral ecology

Spiritualities and religions make deep connections with cosmology, earth sciences, and the fields of ‘deep time’ and ‘big history’. Exploring ‘the journey of the universe’ from interdisciplinary angles can initiate a profound awareness of life on earth as a complex, interdependent system. This is known as ‘integral ecology’. This appreciation of the mystery and wonder of existence links with eco-spirituality, sustainability, Indigenous understandings of Country, and ecological conversion.

For example:

  • How does dialogue between the sciences and spiritualities/religions enrich an awareness of ‘creation’ in its extraordinary history and complexity?
  • What factors are driving or inhibiting the spiritual and/or religious response to ‘a planet in peril’?
  • In what ways do spiritualities and/or religions promote planetary flourishing?

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Content | Evil and apathy

Evil and suffering

Humans have defined evil in different ways throughout history as they seek to make sense of war, genocide, and disease. Spiritualities and religions have offered their own interpretations and responses to evil and suffering. Even amid atrocities such as the Holocaust, which can seem beyond human reason, spiritualities and religions provide a lens through which to make meaning, find solace and spur action. The inability to practise one’s spirituality or religion can itself elicit profound personal, communal and intergenerational suffering, such as that experienced by Stolen Generations. 

For example:

  • How does a spirituality and/or religion define evil and/or suffering and prepare followers to understand and respond to it?
  • How do spiritualities and/or religions confront evil and corruption in their own communities and structures?
  • How do spiritualities and/or religions respond to widespread human and planetary suffering today?

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Evidence of learning

Evidence of learning

Assessment at Stage 1 is school based.

The following assessment types enable students to demonstrate their learning in Stage 1 Spiritualities, Religion, and Meaning:

  • Assessment Type 1: Representations
  • Assessment Type 2: Connections
  • Assessment Type 3: Issues investigation.

For a 10‑credit subject, students should provide evidence of their learning through three to four assessments. Each assessment type should have a weighting of at least 20%. Students complete:

  • one or two representations tasks
  • one connections task
  • one issues investigation.

For a 20‑credit subject, students should provide evidence of their learning through five to six assessments. Each assessment type should have a weighting of at least 20%. Students undertake:

  • three representations tasks
  • one or two connections task(s)
  • one issues investigation.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Assessment design criteria

Assessment design criteria

The assessment design criteria are based on the learning requirements, and are used by teachers to:

  • clarify for the student what they need to learn
  • design opportunities for students to provide evidence of their learning at the highest possible level of achievement.

The assessment design criteria consist of specific features that:

  • students should demonstrate in their learning
  • teachers look for as evidence that students have met the learning requirements.

For this subject, the assessment design criteria are:

  • Exploration and analysis
  • Action and reflective practice.

The set of assessments, as a whole, must give students opportunities to demonstrate each of the specific features by the completion of their study of the subject.

Exploration and Analysis

The specific features are as follows:

EA1 Develop and share understanding of spiritual and/or religious perspectives using inquiry and communication skills
EA2 Analyse ways in which spiritual and/or religious perspectives influence communities
EA3 Evaluate how personal and shared meaning is influenced by spiritual and/or religious concepts, experiences, and beliefs.

Action and Reflective Practice

The specific features are as follows:

ARP1 Design social‑justice actions, drawing on the principles of one or more spiritual or religious traditions
ARP2 Collaborate with others
ARP3 Evaluate the impact of personal and/or shared action using reflective practice.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | School assessment

School assessment

The school assessment component for Stage 1 Spiritualities, Religion and Meaning consists of three assessment types:

  • Assessment Type 1: Representations
  • Assessment Type 2: Connections
  • Assessment Type 3: Issues Investigation.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | School assessment | Assessment Type 1: Representations

Assessment Type 1: Representations

For a 10‑credit subject, students complete one or two representations tasks.

For a 20‑credit subject, students complete three representations tasks.

Students develop and demonstrate understanding of the influence of spiritual and/or religious perspectives on a community within a local, national, or global context, by engaging with representations. These representations could include religious and spiritual texts, traditions and images, other portrayals such as documentaries, feature films, artworks, iconography, artefacts, cartoons, and photos, or online sources.

As part of a class exploration of a big idea, and in consultation with teachers, students select one or more sources and identify spiritual and/or religious perspectives. Students analyse how these representations influence a community or communities and share their insights in a number of ways.

Examples of tasks may include, but are not limited to:

  • an original script or recorded performance of an imagined interview with an artist/creator of an artwork on the theme of ‘After life’ (Religions, spiritualities, and ultimate questions)
  • a director’s cut analysing a portion of a film adaptation of a story from the Bible (Story, visions, and futures).
  • a vlog about depictions of evil in 20th century art (Evil and suffering)
  • a discursive essay regarding one or more icons photographed on a visit to a Greek Orthodox church, and the significance of this artwork within the Greek Orthodox community (Religions, spiritualities, and ultimate questions)
  • a multimedia presentation reflecting on the concept of Mercy and its depiction in the Buddha Goddess statue on Sellicks Hill (Community, justice, and diversity)
  • a recorded discussion with a peer, a small group, or a teacher, unpacking the spiritual and/or religious perspectives from a documentary or series regarding origins of life on earth (Life, the universe, and integral ecology).

A representations task should be a maximum of 1000 words if written, a maximum of 6 minutes if oral, or the equivalent in multimodal form.

For this assessment type, students provide evidence of their learning primarily in relation to the following assessment design criterion:

  • exploration and analysis.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | School assessment | Assessment Type 2: Connections

Assessment Type 2: Connections

For a 10‑credit subject, students complete one connections task.

For a 20‑credit subject, students complete one or two connections tasks.

In this task, students collaborate with others to develop, apply, and reflect on their understanding of some spiritual and/or religious principles that underpin social‑justice actions in the school or broader community. They make connections to the big idea in focus, and research and engage in dialogue with teachers, peers, and others. Students engage in reflective practice to evaluate their collaboration and the impact of their engagement in these actions.

Examples of tasks may include, but are not limited to:

  • organising a group to participate in a social‑justice event or program at school or in the community
  • developing a real or virtual event/program to advocate or provide support for the work of an organisation or spiritual/religious community (e.g. Human Appeal, St Vincent de Paul Society, Tearfund)
  • visiting and engaging with a spiritual or religious centre that provides community outreach, and evaluating its impact (e.g. a Baha’i Centre of Learning, a Christian charity shop, a Hare Krishna meal centre)
  • volunteering for a length of time at a service organisation (e.g. Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army, Uniting SA Aged Care), and reflecting on the significance of volunteering from a spiritual or religious perspective
  • developing an educational resource exploring a social‑justice issue or principle for a specific audience (such as a Church youth group or a class in a younger year level), and reflecting on feedback to determine the effect on the audience.

Student evidence of individual and collaborative product and process may include:

  • annotated photos
  • posters
  • screenshots of social‑media posts
  • a PowerPoint presentation
  • an action plan
  • meeting minutes
  • digital chat/feed recording collaborative decisions and reflections
  • multi‑authored documents with colour coding or tags for clarity
  • a blog, vlog, or journal reflections on the collaborative process and product development.

A connections task should be a maximum of 1000 words if written, or a maximum of 6 minutes if oral, or the equivalent in multimodal form.

For this assessment type, students provide evidence of their learning primarily in relation to the following assessment design criteria:

  • exploration and analysis
  • action and reflective practice.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | School assessment | Assessment Type 3: Issues Investigation

Assessment Type 3: Issues Investigation

For a 10‑credit subject, students complete one issues investigation.

For a 20‑credit subject, students complete one issues investigation.

Students complete an investigation of a contemporary issue linked to one of the big ideas. They develop focusing questions, undertake research using primary and secondary sources to investigate spiritual and/ or religious perspectives on the issue, and present their informed opinions.

Examples of tasks could include, but are not limited to:

  • an illustrated report on how and why the sacred stories/traditions/documents (e.g. the Bible, Dreaming, Koran, Torah, Veda) of one or more spiritual or religious traditions have been interpreted differently over time (Story, visions, and futures)
  • a recorded discussion or debate on a topic such as: how is diversity celebrated and encouraged in my Christian community? (Community, justice, and diversity)
  • a transcript of an original podcast episode for young Muslims regarding the challenges and opportunities that the Five Pillars of Islam offer young people today in living a ‘good life’ (Spiritualities, religions, and ultimate questions)
  • a multimodal presentation exploring how a dialogue between Indigenous elders, religious leaders, and scientists can enrich an awareness of ‘creation’ and provide impetus for caring for our earth (Life, the universe, and integral ecology)
  • a speech advocating for higher unemployment benefits, including future predictions regarding youth homelessness, with justification drawn from Catholic social teaching and/or another spiritual or religious social‑justice framework (Community, justice, and diversity).

For both a 10‑credit and 20‑credit subject, an issues investigation should be a maximum of 1000 words if written, a maximum of 6 minutes if oral, or the equivalent in multimodal form.

For this assessment type, students provide evidence of their learning primarily in relation to the following assessment design criteria:

  • exploration and analysis
  • action and reflective practice.

Web Content Display (Global)

Performance standards

The performance standards describe five levels of achievement, A to E.

Each level of achievement describes the knowledge, skills, and understanding that teachers refer to in deciding how well students have demonstrated their learning on the basis of the evidence provided.

During the teaching and learning program the teacher gives students feedback on their learning, with reference to the performance standards.

At the student’s completion of study of a subject, the teacher makes a decision about the quality of the student’s learning by:

  • referring to the performance standards
  • taking into account the weighting of each assessment type
  • assigning a subject grade between A and E.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Performance standards

Performance standards

Stage 1 performance standards for Spiritualities, Religion, and Meaning can be viewed below. You can also download in Word format [DOC 28KB].

To learn more about what performance standards are, how they are used, and other general information, see performance standards and grades.

  Exploration and Analysis Action and Reflective Practice
A

Development and sharing of a perceptive understanding of spiritual and/or religious perspectives, using a range of highly appropriate inquiry and communication skills.

Insightful analysis of ways in which spiritual and/or religious perspectives influence communities.

Perceptive evaluation of how personal and shared meaning is influenced by spiritual and/or religious concepts, experiences, and beliefs.

Well‑considered design of social‑justice actions, drawing on the principles of one or more spiritual or religious traditions.

Sustained and productive collaboration with others.

Perceptive evaluation of the impact of personal and shared actions, using reflective practice.

B

Development and sharing of a considered understanding of spiritual and/or religious perspectives, using a range of appropriate inquiry and communication skills.

Considered analysis of ways in which spiritual and/or religious perspectives influence communities.

Thoughtful evaluation of how personal and shared meaning is influenced by spiritual and/or religious concepts, experiences, and beliefs.

Considered design of social‑justice actions, drawing on the principles of one or more spiritual or religious traditions.

Focused collaboration with others.

Thoughtful evaluation of the impact of personal and shared actions, using reflective practice.

C

Development and sharing of a competent understanding of spiritual and/or religious perspectives, using inquiry and communication skills.

Competent analysis of ways in which spiritual and/or religious perspectives influence communities.

Reflection, with some evaluation, of how personal and shared meaning is influenced by spiritual and/or religious concepts, experiences, and beliefs.

Competent design of social‑justice actions, drawing on the principles of one or more spiritual or religious traditions.

Some collaboration with others. 

Some evaluation of the impact of personal and shared actions, using reflective practice.

D

Demonstration of some understanding of a spiritual and/or religious perspective.

Description of one or more ways in which spiritual and/or religious perspectives influence communities.

Some reflection of how personal and/or shared meaning is influenced by spiritual/religious concepts, experiences, and beliefs.

Partial design of social‑justice actions, drawing on the principles of a spiritual or religious tradition.

Occasional collaboration with others.

Description of the impact of personal and/or shared actions.

E

Demonstration of a limited understanding of a spiritual and/or religious perspective.

Limited description of a way in which a spiritual and/or religious perspective influences communities.

Limited description of how personal and/or shared meaning is influenced by a spiritual or religious concept, experience, or belief.

Attempted design of a social‑justice action.

Attempted collaboration with others.

Limited description of personal actions.


Stage 1 | Subject outline | Subject changes

Subject changes

Any changes to this subject will be recorded here.