Diploma of Liberal Arts – Foundations of the Western Tradition

Students studying the Diploma of Liberal Arts – Foundations of the Western Tradition undertake all 101 and 102 subjects of Campion’s core subjects – History, Literature, Philosophy and Theology. Throughout the course, students will focus on classic antiquity and further understand the foundations of Western Tradition. To read the course outlines, click the tabs on the left.


In History students are introduced to the study of historiography, with a special focus on the Ancient World. Students consider challenges involved in the writing of history and explore examples of how different approaches to historical inquiry have been put into practice. They also learn the importance of studying history for understanding the ideas, events and perspectives that have shaped their own culture. Subject descriptions are below.

HIS101 - Western Societies from Antiquity to the Present

This subject introduces students to several approaches to historical inquiry and examples of the ways in which those approaches have been put into practice. In the process, it covers various personalities, periods and themes in Western history, including the history of Christianity. They include Athens in the fifth century BC, the rise and fall of Rome, the growth of medieval cities and the twelfth-century renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment world till today. Each of these topics introduces students to new themes in Western history and new methodologies in historical inquiry.

HIS102 - The Ancient World: From the Birth of Greek Rationalism to the Crisis of the Roman Republic

This subject explores the processes and events which contributed to the emergence and structuring of Western Civilisation. After a preliminary introduction to the problems associated with the study of the ancient world and the methodologies and theories developed by historians, the subject examines the rise of Greek rationalism, the birth of the Polis and of Greek democracy and their decline, and how the Romans absorbed and transformed the Greek and Hellenistic political and cultural heritage. The second part of the subject examines the rise of the Roman Republic, its expansion into the Mediterranean world, the political and social crises of the I Century B.C., initialised by the Gracchan Revolution, and the cultural tensions and processes, which led to its transformation during the reign of Augustus.


Literature introduces students to the nature of language as a means of communication. Through studying various literary genres and taking part in a series of rhetorical exercises, students apply the principles of effective communication. With this grounding, students then explore foundational works of the Western literary imagination, reading epics such as Homer’s Iliad and virgil’s Aeneid, and seminal works of literary criticism and theory, including Aristotle’s Poetics and longinus’ On the Sublime. Subject descriptions are below.

LIT101 - Composition and Literature

The subject presents an introduction to the nature of language as a means of communication, and to literature as a setting and stimulus for the language arts. This subject will focus on applying the principles of effective communication through a study of various literary genres, the classical canons of rhetoric, and the production of an academic essay. Composition assignments will follow the traditional “progymnasmata”, a series of graded and repetitive rhetorical exercises based on the reading of great works of literature, which may include fables and fairy tales, and seminal texts such as Homer’s Odyssey and Plato’s Republic. The basic elements of narration – conflict and climax – will be shown to inform not only imaginative literature, but also expository discourse and persuasive argumentation, to the extent that an essential continuity between storytelling and effective argumentation will be discerned.

LIT102 - Literature of the Western World - Ancient

The subject presents an overview of ancient literature and explores the foundational works of the Western literary imagination from Homer to the close of classical antiquity. It also introduces students to the different traditions and themes of literary criticism and theory in classical times. Authors studied may include Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Virgil and St Basil the Great. More specifically the topics and concepts may include: the characteristics of epic, as exemplified in the Iliad; the ideas of the poet in Plato’s Ion and Republic; Aristotle’s theory of tragedy in the Poetics; Sophocles’ Oedipus the King as the ideal tragedy in Aristotle’s terms; the development of epic in Virgil’sAeneid; and the Christian view of pagan literature.


Philosophy equips students with the basic building blocks of philosophical thought. Students wrestle with big questions like ‘what is reality?’, ‘what is it like?’ (metaphysics) and ‘how do we know things?’ (epistemology). Foundational concepts such as truth, justification, identity and free will are discussed in both traditional and contemporary forms. Students engage especially with the thought of Aristotle (and to a lesser extent Plato). Subject descriptions are below.

PHI101 - Introduction to Philosophy

This subject is designed to prepare students for an engagement with philosophy by introducing them to some important foundational concepts, questions and theories.  We begin by discussing the nature of philosophy as a whole – and that of its various subdisciplines, e.g. metaphysics and ethics – before concentrating on three areas, each of which is important as a preliminary to the subdisciplines that will be the focus of later courses.  The first main section focuses on epistemology, which deals with various questions about the nature of human knowledge.  These include: questions about definition (i.e. the question of what we mean when we attribute knowledge to people); questions of how to respond to various ancient and modern sceptical challenges to our claims to knowledge; contemporary debates about such issues as fallibilism vs.infallibilism and internalism vs. externalism; and issues concerning the complex relations between reason, tradition and faith.  Our discussion of these questions leads naturally into the second main section: an examination of various competing theories of the nature of truth and objectivity.  The third and final main section of the course introduces students to the study of logic, familiarising them with conceptual tools indispensable for the critical analysis of arguments.  Throughout the course, the aim is to lead the student to see these ideas not as remote and merely technical, but instead as being implicit in questions and issues at the heart of human self-understanding.

PHI102 - Metaphysics

Metaphysics is the philosophical study of ultimate reality. It explores the nature of our world and the arguments that have been devised for and against various views as to what that nature is. A central strand within Western philosophy has traditionally explored these questions with reference to God and the role God plays in explaining how the world came to exist and why it is as it is. This subject will provide students with a broad grounding in the responses of philosophers to these questions, with some sustained reference to the work of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. Particular questions addressed include questions such as: What is it for something to exist? What is it that makes something the same entity over time? Are you something that can exist even if your body is destroyed? What is it for a person to act freely? Is human freedom compatible with God’s foreknowledge of your actions?


This subject introduces foundational concepts in Catholic theology, including Providence, the person and work of Christ, the Church, liturgy, the Communion of Saints, Mary, and the relationship between theology and culture. Students come to appreciate the importance of these concepts for living out their own faith in contemporary society. In addition, students see how these elements play out in Sacred Scripture, and they delve into the techniques of scriptural exegesis in order to understand the deeper meanings beyond the plain text. Subject descriptions are below.

THE101 - Theological Foundations of Christian Culture

This subject introduces the theological roots of Christian culture and explores how this culture compares and engages with modern, secularized Western culture.  The theological foundations of culture which are treated follow the structure of the Nicene Creed and include creation and the imago dei, sin and the Fall, the covenant calling of Israel, the Incarnation and Christology, the Trinity, the Church, the communion of saints and the Virgin Mary, forgiveness, and the Eucharist.

THE102 - The Development of Revelation

This subject introduces revelation in the shared Judaeo-Christian tradition of the Old Testament and its fulfilment in the incarnation, the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as presented and reflected on in the Christian New Testament. Students will be introduced to the topics of canonicity, inspiration, the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, the historical-critical method and contemporary methods of biblical criticism. The content and major themes of the various books of the Old and New Testaments will be treated.