Join the Core

As an ACU staff member, you know that an ACU education is about more than a degree.

It’s learning to look at the world through a new perspective, with empathy and confidence. It’s learning to lead, and to listen. It’s challenging stereotypes, and having the courage to make an impact.

The university's Core Curriculum lies at the heart of this transformation.

When are the University Core Curriculum Units Offered? 

The Core Curriculum is comprised of three units:

  1. two coursework units, drawn from either the Catholic social thought (UNCC) or philosophy (PHCC) streams.
  2. one community engagement unit that is specific to each program, serving to draw the Core Curriculum experience together and offering students an opportunity to live the Core Curriculum in action.

These units are fully integrated within all courses of study.

Community engagement unit: Each faculty at ACU has its own arrangements in place for community engagement, as outlined in the relevant Course Enrolment Guide.

Coursework units: Students have a choice about which coursework units they select, and from which stream. The Catholic social thought (UNCC) units have one unit at each level (UNCC100 and UNCC300), while the Philosophy (PHCC) stream has two options at first year level.

Students therefore have a choice of ONE unit from:

and ONE unit from:

The Catholic social thought (UNCC) units are offered in three modes:

  • Multimode (extended): normal week-by-week offering in semester 1 or 2. It is multimode because students access learning materials and activities through LEO and attend a tutorial on campus on a weekly basis over 10 weeks.
  • Multimode (intensive): summer, winter, offshore and July School (coordinated by ACU International) offerings, where students attend tutorials on campus for an extended period of 2–3 hours per session and are expected to have worked through LEO materials prior to the first tutorial and between subsequent tutorials. Intensive mode tutorials generally span a period of two weeks.
  • Online: offered in fully online mode as an alternative to face to face tutorials. The units are only run in semester 1 and 2.

The Philosophy (PHCC) stream units are offered in three modes:

  • Attendance Mode: Normal week by week offerings on Brisbane, Strathfield, North Sydney and Melbourne campuses over 12 weeks. This involves three hours per week, made up of interactive lectures and tutorials. PHCC102 and PHCC104 are offered in Sem 2, and PHCC320 is offered in Sem 1.
  • Multimode (extended): Normal week-by-week offerings for Ballarat and Canberra campuses, following the same pattern of offering as for attendance mode, over the standard 12-week semester. Classes are conducted in live webinar, using Adobe Connect.
  • Winter Multimode (intensive): One-week winter schools offering, where students attend tutorials on campus as well as work through LEO materials outside of class.

ACU offers students the opportunity to study one Core Curriculum unit overseas. Generous student scholarships are available to assist with travel and program expenses.

Read student experiences of the International Core Curriculum

Interested staff are invited to apply to tutor student cohorts for UNCC100 and/or UNCC300.

Staff with postgraduate qualifications in the discipline of philosophy are invited to apply to tutor student cohorts for PHCC102, PHCC104 or PHCC320

Staff teaching the Core frequently speak very highly of the supportive collegial relationships they form with other staff members and the great sense they have of belonging to a team. They also report enjoying the opportunity to work with students as they consider big questions and real issues, and contributing to the larger work and vision of the University.

Tutors for any Core Curriculum unit are required to:

  1. Undertake LEO basics, Turnitin and Grademark for UNNC training and other technical learning as required.
  2. Facilitate the learning activities of students according to the mode.
  3. Be available for preliminary student consultation as required and answer questions promptly from students via e-mail.
  4. Be diligent and timely in their marking and undertake second marking for their colleague.
  5. Identify cases of academic dishonesty.

In addition, tutors for UNCC100 and UNCC300 are required to:

  1. Attend Core Curriculum professional learning moderation activities (as required)
  2. Familiarise themselves thoroughly with the teaching materials in LEO and background materials on the LEO staff site.

All continuing, fixed term and sessional staff (academic and professional) interested in teaching Core Curriculum are encouraged to complete an Expression of Interest, which is called via e-mail from each Faculty Executive Dean on a regular basis. Staff are required to demonstrate the competencies outlined below:

Criteria for assessment and selection of tutors to teach Core Curriculum Units

  1. Minimum of a Masters’ degree and/or demonstrable equivalent experience* as outlined in the Higher Education Standards Framework Domain 3: Teaching.
  2. In the case of those applying to teach in the Philosophy stream, applicants need also to have completed a minimum of a Master’s degree, in the field of Philosophy.
  3. Evidence of teaching ability and the capacity to engage students positively and constructively in learning.**
  4. Ability to engage and respond to the needs of multidisciplinary student cohorts.
  5. Demonstrable ability to work  effectively as part of a team.
  6. Ability and/or willingness to learn to use educational technologies in Higher Education (e.g. learning management systems) and to participate in academic processes related to teaching, e.g. marking and moderation.

Desirable criterion (for teaching International Core Curriculum)

  1. Evidence of cross-cultural teaching and/or international professional experience.

* Demonstrable equivalent experience may include but is not limited to: evidence of sustained community development, experience in the following fields: allied health, business development studies, campus ministry, education, government policy, global studies, humanities, international law, philosophy, theology.

** Evidence of teaching ability includes completion of the first introductory unit of the ACU Graduate Certificate in Higher Education or equivalent. Teaching evaluations by students will be considered for those wishing to teach subsequent offerings of the Core Curriculum.

Process for assessment and selection of staff to teach Core Curriculum

Continuing and fixed term academic staff should first confer with their Head of School (HoS) about possible assignment to teach in the University Core Curriculum units within the context of their overall academic workload allocation. Any offer of teaching load must be made in consultation with the HoS.

Assessment and approval of academic staff to teach Core Curriculum is made by the respective Executive Dean, while assessment and approval of professional staff to teach Core Curriculum is made by the Provost and Chair of the Academic Board.

Approval of all staff to teach internationally is made by the DVC Coordination upon assessment of the International Core Curriculum Sub-Committee.
All staff members are supported to teach UNCC100 or UNCC300 through the provision of professional development and moderation activities.

For further information contact:

For Course Coordinators

How does the Core fit into a student’s course?

Information on how and when the Core Curriculum fits into individual programs is available in Course Enrolment Guides. The Core Curriculum is not configured in the same way for all courses (for example, some courses have the Core Curriculum Community Engagement unit embedded across several units, whereas others undertake it as a distinct unit). Students are advised to consult their Course Enrolment Guide for specific details about how the Core fits into their degree, but if they get out of sequence or have an issue (such as managing a placement) they should contact their Course Coordinator.

What is the difference between the Catholic social thought (UNCC) stream and the Philosophy (PHCC) stream?

Both streams introduce students to key themes within the Catholic intellectual tradition, with a particular focus on its conception of the human being, and matters of social justice. Both streams look to enhance students’ skills in critical thinking. 

The main difference is that the PHCC units allow students to engage in a ‘deeper dive’ into key debates in the field of study of philosophy, particularly in terms of the complexities of being human, and the nature of ethical reflection. It provides them with the opportunity to engage in higher-level reflection about major contemporary issues, and training in broad-based critical thinking skills, applicable to a range of professions.

How many hours are required to complete the Core units?

The time commitment for students varies between the Catholic social thought stream and the philosophy stream. 

  • The two University Core Curriculum units (UNCC100 and UNCC300) normally require students to attend 10 hours of face-to-face classes. In addition, they work on an extensive suite of online resources and activities, designed to support their discussion and work in tutorials and completion of the assessment tasks.
  • The three Philosophy Core Curriculum units (PHCC102, PHCC104 and PHCC320) are standard ACU units requiring 150 hours of engagement. They generally require students to attend 3 hours of classes per week over 12 weeks or the equivalent in intensive mode. However, specific arrangements are put in place for students who have practicum commitments during semester that make it difficult for them to attend on all weeks.

Does the Core Curriculum extend the length of a course?

No. For most courses, three of the units contributing to meeting Core Curriculum requirements have come from existing components of the degree. Courses have been revised to fit in the two University Core units (UNCC100 and UNCC300).

Can students get credit for previous study to cover the Core units?

Students can apply for credit for both UNCC100 and UNCC300.

How do students find out more about studying the Core overseas?

They should visit the Study Abroad website or contact ACU International and watch for announcements about information sessions.

What happens if a student fails a UNCC unit?

As the Core units are requirements of most degree programs, students will need to successfully repeat the unit in order to graduate. Should a fail grade be awarded, students are notified of options for repeating the unit.

My students have a placement in a hospital/school in the middle of semester. They will not be on campus during that time. How do they meet the attendance requirements?

Arrangements for the Catholic social thought and Philosophy units differ:

  • The UNCC units are generally offered in different ‘streams’ to accommodate student placement requirements. This means that tutorials only run for the weeks that such students are on campus. Some tutorials run across the normal weeks 1–10 of semester and others run in a different pattern so that classes on campus are suspended for a few weeks while students are out on placement. Therefore, students need to check carefully the week pattern of the tutorial they select in Tutorial Direct.
  • The PHCC units are not offered in discrete cohorts in the same way. However, LICs for PHCC units make arrangements with students who have placement requirements to ensure that their attendance possibilities are taken into account, and adjustments are made, as needed, to assessment timeframes.

I have students who are out of sequence with their Program Map. When should they do the University Core units?

University Core Units are also offered as an intensive in summer and winter or on-line, primarily to cater for students who are out of sequence or whose placement requirements make it difficult for them to fit into a normal pattern of offering. Specific advice about individual students should be sought from

For staff considering teaching Core Curriculum

Who teaches the Core Curriculum?

As noted above, teaching eligibility differs for the Catholic social thought (UNCC) units and the Philosophy (PHCC) units. In the case of the UNCC units, staff members from across all ACU faculties, from a range of different programs, are eligible. For example, a law academic might be teaching a group of nurses and teachers together with students from media studies and physiotherapy. PHCC units, on the other hand, are only taught by those with postgraduate qualifications in the field of philosophy (minimum of a Master’s degree). In the case of both UNCC and PHCC units, classes are made up of students from a range of different programs.

Is the Core Curriculum only for Catholic students or staff?

No. The Core Curriculum is an important experience for all ACU undergraduate students. The Core Curriculum units emphasise critical judgement, clear expression, ethical decision-making and concern for others, as individuals and as a community. They are academic units and do not presume or require any particular religious belief. Staff members from many different backgrounds teach in the Core Curriculum.

For more information about teaching in the Core Curriculum:

For all Core Curriculum issues relating to:

  • General enquiries
  • Policy
  • Timetabling
  • Results
  • Sessional staff contracts (including teaching, marking, double marking, training and moderation payments)
  • Student related issues (including enrolments, applications for unit credits, student appeals)


For all Core Curriculum queries relating to:

  • Academic Honesty


For all Core Curriculum issues relating to:

  • Staffing
  • Staff training
  • Academic processes (including requests for extensions, special consideration and Educational Inclusion Plans)

Contact the relevant Faculty below:

All student enquiries relating to Core Curriculum should be forwarded to:

Ask a question about teaching the Core Curriculum by submitting the enquiry form.

Submit an enquiry

Page last updated on 24/12/2021

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