At the center of the overall architecture of university studies we find Courses Supply, in which each curriculum is structured in a consistent and integrated way.
According to the normative indications found in Church documents, Courses Supply does not emerge as a conceptual and terminological category, as it is commonly used in the current University System reform: it roughly corresponds to the so-called Study Plan. This plan is regulated according to principles and norms which, based on subjects’ diversity, are included in ecclesiastical documents, especially from the Second Vatican Council, considering the evolution of knowledge and, at the same time, scientific acquisitions which contribute to scientific progress (cf. Veritatis gaudium 37 § 1).
As Circular Letter 1 (1st of February 2004) states, Ecclesiastical Faculties must act in line with Apostolic Constitution, following the orientations that have gradually been adopted by this Congregation» in order to implement the Holy See’s participation in several international reform initiatives.
Each University/Faculty’s Study Plan is organized in order to allow Universities/Faculties to reach their general goals, respecting the contents and requirements of each science, as well as their proper methods (cf. Veritatis gaudium 37 § 2).
The academic study curriculum is structured into three separate cycles or degrees, adapted according to each subject’s requirements:
• the first cycle provides students with basic knowledge and skills, whereby they are introduced to the scientific research that is proper to their subject (cf. Veritatis gaudium 39, a))
• the second cycle allows students to study subjects in greater depth and acquire a more advanced scientific and operational methodology (cf. Veritatis gaudium 39, b))
• the third cycle promotes the acquisition of higher knowledge and skills «especially hrough a written work which truly makes a contribution to the advance of the science» (cf. Veritatis gaudium 39, c)), also in order to be able to carry out research and teaching in other Universities or advanced research Centers.
Academic degrees’ triple structure, which has always characterized ecclesiastical studies and is regulated by Sapientia christiana, is well suited to the global University System Reform that is currently taking place.
Courses Supply Structure
The structure of Courses Supply includes activities ranging from Magisterial lectures, which normally entail mandatory attendance (cf. cf. Veritatis gaudium 41), to written and oral exercises, workshops, seminars, and practical exercises that foster individual and/or group research (cf. Veritatis gaudium 42).
An important part of Courses Supply are final degree examinations, in addition to exams and tests involving individual subjects which, together, should prove the level of scientific maturity that has been achieved and corresponds to the respective cycle (cf. Veritatis gaudium 43), also in relation to further studies in the Faculty and the admission to the following cycles (cf. Veritatis gaudium 44).
The Faculty Statutes lay down, in detail, the kinds of tests and degree examinations that must be passed, also in relation to students coming from other academic Institutions (cf. Veritatis gaudium 44).
Ecclesiastical Universities/Faculties are urged by the Congregation for Catholic Education to ensure, on the one hand, the unity of studies and, on the other hand, qualification and degree comparability, «to develop their curricula, clearly showing work actually done by students through credits (ECTS), and actually and realistically define “learning outcomes,” for which a study curriculum, a whole subject or even one single course are supposed to prepare students within a specific academic cycle» (Circular Letter 6, 30 of March 2009).
Integral Formation and Interdisciplinarity
Study organization is based on the interaction between different subjects, especially the ones that belong to the various domains that are more directly connected to individual Universities/Faculties’ specific purposes.
Individual educational activities are structured into different study curricula in order to make an integrated whole, in order to facilitate interdisciplinarity and collaboration between Faculties and Teachers of different scientific subjects (cf. Veritatis gaudium 40 § 2).
The educational goal of ecclesiastical Universities/Faculties is to promote an integral and integrated formation of all students, that does not only take into account the study subjects or domains that are cultivated in that Institution, but opens up to all scientific contributions which, albeit not directly related to the Faculty’s specific aims, nevertheless contribute to understanding the human realities that are implied in the search for truth and things’ “raison d’etre”.
This is why educational activities, and the way in which learning is organized, are inspired by the principle of coordination and integration among the various theoretical, philosophical, theological, historical, legal, sociological, psychological, methodological, technical-operational, and communication-related subjects, in order to ensure the unity and integration of academic formation, as it is laid down in the statutory norms (cf. Veritatis gaudium 40 § 1 e Veritatis gaudium 7). «Exchanges among academic subjects will prevent the danger of just providing good professional training for the labor markets’ immediate needs, sacrificing the goal of a sound formation at the human level» (Circular Letter 4, 30 of October 2006).
Freedom of Research and Teaching
Furthermore, the freedom to carry out research and teaching, in compliance with scientific research requirements and the Magisterium of the Church, is ensured so that a true progress in the knowledge and understanding of divine truth can be achieved (cf. Veritatis gaudium 3 § 1).