Clinical Pastoral Education

CPE units provide training and experience in the practice of pastoral care.

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Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is offered through the University of Divinity in partnership with ASPEA (the Association for Supervised Pastoral Education in Australia, Inc). The program is required by some churches for formal ministry accreditation or ordination, and is available to many pastoral and spiritual carers who wish to include it in their formation, professional development or formal studies. Most units are offered in hospital or clinical contexts but some can be undertaken in a variety of ministry contexts. The CPE program is led by ASPEA’s accredited supervisors.

Enrolling in CPE

Enrolments are managed through the University’s Colleges in conjunction with the University’s CPE Liaison Officer, located at Stirling Theological College. Allison can be contacted at or at Stirling on (03) 9790 1000.

Students interested in taking a unit of CPE should speak with a Coursework Coordinator at one of the University’s Colleges to begin the application process. The CPE Liaison Officer can advise on who to contact at which CPE Centre, and the information on the ASPEA website can help guide this selection.

Students wishing to undertake CPE are required to follow application procedures that include an interview with a CPE Centre Director before they can be offered a place in the program (if one is available). With the letter of offer, a student can then enrol in the required unit.

The CPE Units

Two CPE units, each worth 36 points, are available at the University of Divinity at postgraduate level only:

DP9100S Clinical Pastoral Education Level 1

Enrolment in DP9100S requires satisfactory completion of units in Systematic Theology, Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies, and Biblical Studies.

DP9273S Clinical Pastoral Education Level 2

Enrolment in DP9273S requires satisfactory completion of DP9100S Clinical Pastoral Education Level 1.

With permission, these units may be counted towards undergraduate courses, such as the Bachelor of Ministry, Bachelor of Theology or the Advanced Diploma in Theology and Ministry, as well as in postgraduate courses. The units are taught at postgraduate level, however, and the postgraduate unit fee applies. CPE units may not be taken as audit units.

Demands of the CPE Program

The CPE program demands a great deal of students, in both time and emotional investment.  The encounters with others can be challenging and reflection on those encounters may be confronting. The discipline of writing up journals, case studies and verbatims enhances personal integration which makes the CPE program a demanding but enriching process.  Students who are new to hospital or healthcare settings or multi-faith and multi-cultural settings may find challenges confronting.  CPE is also often reported as one of the most rewarding units taken by students in the University.  Students enrolling in a part time CPE should expect to commit at least a half time load to CPE. A full time unit is based on a 38 hour week.

Field: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies
Unit Code(s): DP9100S
Unit value: 36 points (double unit)
Level: Postgraduate Foundational
Delivery mode: Placement
Prerequisites: Completion of at least one unit in Field B or in CT and one unit in Field D and demonstrated pastoral competence and a successful interview with the CPE Centre Director or delegate.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a program of education and formation for the work of pastoral care. The program’s methodology utilises the action/reflection model of learning. The action component entails the actual provision of pastoral care within a pastoral setting. This care acknowledges and attends to the human condition, particularly life’s religious and spiritual dimensions. The reflection component entails the exploration of the ministry experience, the dynamics present, and the theological and spiritual dimensions. This action/reflection process is integral to the participants’ understanding and the formation of their pastoral identity and competence. CPE is “learning theology from the living human document” (Anton Boisen). The goal of the program is that the participant will be acknowledged first hand as the bearer of the sacred and the distinctive provider of spiritual and pastoral care.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  • develop goals for their learning which identify their learning edges for the Unit
  • begin, develop and conclude pastoral interactions with people with varied experiences
  • identify and respond to a person’s spiritual needs and resources in ways that contribute to a person’s wellbeing
  • demonstrate a basic capacity to engage with inter-disciplinary staff
  • engage in reflection on their experience of spiritual care in writing, with a group of peers and with their supervisor, as they work towards their goals and objectives
  • reflect upon their encounters and pastoral experience within a spiritual/theological framework
  • articulate how the insights gained from theological/spiritual reflection on the pastoral experiences can be incorporated into future pastoral practice
  • demonstrate a growing awareness of their identity as a spiritual carer.

This unit is graded Pass/Fail and ALL tasks MUST be completed satisfactorily to pass this unit.

  • 200-word Statement of Learning Goals (5%)
  • 8 x (approx) 6,000-word reports of spiritual care with people (30%) 
  • 100-word (minimum) faith/spirituality and ministry story (5%)      
  • 2,500-word case study (10%)    
  • 2,500-word mid-term evaluation paper (20%)           
  • 2,500-word final evaluation paper (30%)