Core Curriculum

Students attend university for many reasons — to continue their studies, gain a qualification, train for a profession, learn together with others, meet different people… Some of these goals can be sought in other institutions; but universities are unique in the ways in which they bring all these goals together. This happens through a particular approach towards intellectual development — how we identify knowledge and truth, and how we let them change us.

Notre Dame’s Core Curriculum brings all of our students together under one banner. The Core places the life of the mind (often called the “intellectual life”) proudly to the fore in every one of our degree courses. The Core asks: how does developing our grasp of knowledge and truth change us, our workplaces, our families and our choices?

The Core exists in distinctive versions on our three Campuses (PH100, ET100, TH101, LW104, Medicine 100 & 200 in Fremantle; Logos in Sydney; AB100, TH112 in Broome). All versions draw on the riches of philosophical and theological thought.

Philosophy seeks to clarify the truth about the human person, God, our world, and our conduct. Philosophy uses texts and methods of inquiry and reasoning built up over centuries by some of the finest critical minds.

Theology approaches similar questions through different texts and in the light of the faith position of one particular religious tradition. At Notre Dame, the philosophy we study is Western philosophy and the theology we study is Catholic theology.

Ethics is concerned with three interrelated themes: what we value as 'good' or 'bad'; what we regard as 'virtuous' or 'vicious' behaviour, or character; and what we define by rule as 'right' or 'wrong' to protect ourselves and society from harm and promote the health and well-being of the community.

Undertaking the Core Curriculum requires no previous study, experience or religious commitment. Philosophy and theology are academic subjects and taught in the Core at introductory level.

The Core aims to achieve a real change in students’ understanding and choices. It aims to do so by:

  • Developing the capacity for critical reflection and reasoned argument.
  • Introducing intriguing theories and concepts concerning human persons, our search for meaning and truth and our attempts to base social life on reason and morality.
  • Introducing themes from the Greco-Roman philosophical tradition and the best of Christian and secular reflection on that tradition.
  • Discussing the relationship between faith and reason.
  • Exploring the key elements of ethics, such as human purpose and happiness, needs and rights, virtues and duties, justice and charity.
  • Encouraging the integration of discipline-specific knowledge with knowledge concerning the fulfilment of human individuals and communities.
  • Bringing together students from different disciplines and backgrounds to study key themes from (Western) Philosophical and (Catholic) Theological traditions.

The University believes that the Core Curriculum is intriguing, enjoyable, builds mind and character, and opens up questions that will help make life and work more meaningful and richer in potential.