THL451 Theological and Ethical Issues for People in Later Life (8)

This subject examines the human person in later life from the perspective of Christian theology. Students will reflect critically upon human personhood in later life, taking into account biblical perspectives; Christian theological and other religious traditions; and dialogue with contemporary secular accounts. It explores the older person's relationship to concepts such as forgiveness and reconciliation in personal relationships; critical self-reflection and self-transcendence; finding peace in loss; and cognisance of mortality. A range of contemporary ethical issues in later life that arise from the dignity of the human person will also be examined.


Session 1 (30)
Canberra Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: THL451. 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

Enrolment Restrictions

Graduate Diploma of Ageing and Pastoral Studies
Master of Ageing and Pastoral Studies

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of biblical and theological anthropological accounts of human embodiment, relationships and meaning in ageing;
  • be able to analyse critically the contested nature of 'personhood' in Christian and other traditions, and the implications of competing accounts for ethical reflection on later life;
  • be able to demonstrate an appreciation of older persons' relationship to critical self-reflection and self-transcendence; forgiveness and reconciliation in personal relationships; and the prospect of loss;
  • be able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the place of death in Christian theology, its relation to sin and suffering, salvation and hope, and older persons' relationship to these concepts;
  • be able to articulate other religious and secular approaches to ageing, and their accounts of human dignity and worth in later life; and
  • be able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of some contemporary ethical issues for older people and their carers.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • Section 1: A brief history of ageing; Biblical images of later life; Personhood in Christian tradition, and its challengers; Other accounts of older persons' dignity and worth;
  • Section 2: The older person and later life; 'Gerotranscendence': critical self-reflection for growth in wisdom and spiritual maturity; The virtues and vices of later life; The tasks of personal relationship: forgiveness, reconciliation, disappointment; The prospects of loss: illness, death and contributions of Christian theology;
  • Section 3: Ethical issues in later life care; The standard account: autonomy, justice, beneficence, and non-maleficence; Justice in relation to ageism and the distribution of health care resources; Beneficence and non-maleficence in upholding quality-of-life, and in dementia care; Autonomy in relation to withdrawal of treatment, palliation, euthanasia.

Indicative Assessment

The following table summarises the assessment tasks for the online offering of THL451 in Session 1 2020. 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 %
Discussion: 'personhood'
Critical analysis essay
Major essay on an ethical issue in ageing

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.