1.1.5 How to make the most of this study

Back to 1.1.4

Unit 1 Contents


The first thing to say is: as this is CST by sat nav, take advantage of how easy the module makes things!

Here are three ways of making the most of it.


As you know, the VPlater modules are being made publicly accessible on-line, rather than only to people at the universities/colleges participating in the project.  Therefore people likely to study this material fall into three groups:

1. undergraduate students at one of the five universities/colleges working formally towards a degree

2. groups in dioceses/parishes, other Christian communities or workplaces who make use of the modules for informal study

3. individual people who simply access the material as a way of learning about CST.

For people in all three categories, communication with others can have an important place in your experience of studying it.  Your understanding and depth of learning are likely to be greatly enhanced through such conversations.

How will this work?  For students in each of those categories, here are brief guidelines.

1.  If you are studying formally on a degree course, you will be expected to participate in a seminar after completion of each unit on the content of that unit.

Typically there will be, therefore, eight such seminars over a ten-week term (if the module gains 20 credits) or six such seminars during a half-semester of seven or eight weeks (if the module gains 15 credits).

The exact format of seminars will be determined by the Module Convenor in your university/college.  In some cases, a student might be asked to present a short discussion paper.

2.  If you are studying informally as a parish group or similar, it is likely that you will work through material more slowly than formally registered students.  For example, you might plan to work through each unit in one month or six weeks.

How often you meet to talk about issues raised is of course a matter for you.  However I suggest that it would make sense to have two meetings during each unit (at least):

– one at a convenient mid-point, so that you can assess progress and start to share insights on what the material has raised

– one at the end.

3.  If you are working through the module alone, you of course cannot have a face-to-face discussion of it with other students.  But we encourage you to try to put together a small group of friends and/or family to have some conversations with about what you encounter.  Of course, they won’t be studying it, but most people are interested in the issues CST addresses – once they grasp how significant they are.

Beyond this you are welcome to post your reactions to each unit and any questions about it on ‘Comments’ page for it.  This might generate reaction from others.

To facilitate all these kinds of conversation, I shall be posting some discussion questions on each unit.   These will appear at two points in each unit – at a suitable mid-point and at the end.

You can, of course, make a note of questions the material provokes for you while you are working through it.  The ‘reflections’ and ‘exercises’ might especially prompt them.  Some of these questions can be addressed in your discussions.

Clearly, whether such conversations take place and are fruitful will depend largely on you and others reading this.  But they can certainly both enhance the experience of engaging with it and generate new insights that people would not otherwise gain.

In Unit 1:

  • Some questions for the discussion half way through the unit are given in 1.2.6.  They begin by looking back at the article by Austen Ivereigh that was a reading in 1.1.1.
  • For questions at the end, see the final screen: ‘Review and discussion of Unit 1’


A second way to make the most of this study is to use the ‘learning outcomes’ positively – rather than see them as a mere formality.

The simplest way of doing this is to regard them a means of focusing the large amount of material you’ll encounter on a few major points.

The learning outcomes for the module as a whole were given on the last screen.  You could, for example, refer back to these at the end of each unit in order to get a sense of the extent to which you have, by that stage, reached them.  (You will be asked to do this a couple of times, but not after every unit.)

In addition to those, some learning outcomes will be given for each unit.  Here they are for this one.

Learning outcomes for Unit 1

By the end of the unit, you will be able

  • to outline what Catholic Social Teaching is
  • to summarize why Catholic Social Teaching exists
  • to describe the main ‘sources’ of CST
  • to name and explain the main principles of CST
  • to demonstrate understanding of the learning outcomes for Module B (given in 1.1.3)

At the end of Unit 1 you will be asked to assess whether you have achieved these.  Doing this can help you to be aware of how much you have learned, as well as where there are gaps.

In short, try to make constructive use of learning outcomes.

iii.       PRIMARY TEXTS

At the start of this screen I said: take advantage of how easy the module makes things!

This applies especially to reading the primary texts of CST – papal encyclicals and similar.  (These will be listed on 1.2.3.)

As you will discover, they will be introduced in ways that should make reading them vastly easier than this might otherwise be.  I emphasize this because actually reading these is the main thing you need to do in order to have a sense of really knowing CST and of having engaged with it properly.  Reading primary texts will pay dividends.

Besides, if you are studying the module formally at second or third year undergraduate level, you should be reading primary literature in all your fields of study, not textbooks only.

The primary texts of CST are a pretty difficult set of documents, but this module gives you an easy way into them.

After those three ways of making the most of this module, here is one danger to avoid.

In starting to study CST, don’t have a mindset in which you basically look to see what you do and don’t agree with.

As with any significant body of thought, you need to understand it in its own terms before you can form intelligent judgments about the extent to which you find it convincing.



End of 1.1.5

Go to 1.1.6 Principles of Catholic Social Teaching

Module B outline

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