THL231 Christianity in Australian History (8)

This subject examines the history of Christianity in Australia from 1788 to the present. Drawing upon historical and sociological studies of the Christian churches in Australia, this subject considers the distinctives of immigrant religious traditions and the effects on churches of drought, pluralism, economic depression, two world wars, post-war immigration and exposure to American culture. The subject also investigates interaction between Christianity and Indigenous peoples, and the engagement of the churches in education, welfare, intellectual and cultural life, and politics. That engagement is further considered within the framework of contemporary historical and theological discussion of mission in a post-Christendom context.


Session 1 (30)
On Campus
Canberra Campus
Canberra Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: THL231. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Theology

Assumed Knowledge

Students are recommended to have prior knowledge equivalent to or studied THL131 or THL132.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to demonstrate a broad and critical understanding of the principal movements in theology, social context, ecclesiology and politics in Australia since British settlement;
  • be able to analyse and critically evaluate the changing roles of various Australian Christian communities and movements since British settlement;
  • be able to critically review and articulate the historical relevance and implications of Christian beliefs in forming an Australian sense of identity;
  • be able to analyse and critically evaluate historiographical approaches to the church across different cultures, ecclesial communities, and worldviews;
  • be able to demonstrate a broad and coherent knowledge of the history of Christianity in Australia informed by empirically grounded sociological and historical research; and
  • be able to demonstrate self-guided and collaborative learning, including sound research, writing and communication skills relevant to history as a discipline.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • Australian religious history and historiography: contexts and key themes
  • Indigenous, penal, and settler perspectives on religion in early colonial Australia
  • The impact of the Gold Rushes and colonial self-government on Australian churches
  • Prosperity, growth, depression, and drought as crises for a 'Christian country,' 1860-1899
  • The impact of the First and Second World Wars on religious and church life
  • Post-World War II immigration, ethnic churches, and the growth of religious pluralism
  • The contribution of Christianity to Australian society, culture, and identity
  • Missionary expansion of Australian churches at home and abroad
  • Relations between Indigenous peoples, churches, and Australian society
  • Key issues and themes in Australian church-state relations, including Federation, education, and social welfare
  • Revival and decline: historical and sociological perspectives on secularisation in Australia and the West, particularly since the 1960s

Indicative Assessment

The following table summarises the assessment tasks for the online offering of THL231 in Session 1 2019. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated and can also differ to suit the mode of study (online or on campus).

Item Number
Value %
Research essay
Discussion/forum contributions

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2021. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.