The academic course consists of some eleven semesters of full time study, spread over seven years. Most studies are undertaken at Catholic Theological College (CTC) which awards state-recognized degrees through the University of Divinity. Students graduate typically with three degrees: Advanced Diploma in Philosophy, Bachelor of Theology and Master of Theological Studies.
This programme of studies seeks to be suitably rigorous, so that the seminarian's education is seen as equivalent to that received by other professional's training in Australian institutes of higher learning. Therefore, the intellectual formation undertaken must aim at academic excellence, both in teaching and learning, so that each seminarian is given the opportunity to achieve academic results to the best of his ability. Furthermore, the demands placed on seminarians in their academic studies aim at ensuring that the future priest will have the intellectual capacity to grasp the significance of his sacramental and pastoral ministry.
The first year in the seminary emphasizes the spiritual foundations which the seminarian and the priest must have in their lives. The academic component is geared to that goal. The history of Christian spirituality is taught through the study of key texts in their theological and historical contexts. There are also introductory courses, internal to the seminary, on Liturgy and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Students also do introductory reading of the Bible in preparation for the formal study of Scripture. Depending on the student’s aptitude there are language studies, in Latin or in English. Students undertake two units of study at CTC in the first semester, and three units in the second semester, including the first Philosophy unit.
Second and Third years
The study of Philosophy dominates the next two academic years. Most seminarians complete some eight-ten units of Philosophy over these years. In addition, studies in Scripture, Theology and Church History begin.
Seminarians spend the second semester of year four residing in a parish for pastoral placement. In the first semester they continue studies in Scripture and Theology. The seminarian is thus encouraged to find a good personal synthesis between academic study and pastoral engagement.
fifth, sixth and Seventh years
During these years, the seminarian is engaged in full time study in Theology and Scripture, with particular emphasis on Moral Theology, Canon Law and the sacraments.
Most students complete their academic formation with a theological synthesis (25,000 words), under supervision, as part of the Master’s degree. The synthesis is presented publically and formally examined. The aim is to show how the student has developed an integrated understanding of Catholic theology which he can clearly articulate.
(Adapted from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Program for Priestly Formation 2015)