1 x 2-hour lecture weekly
1 x 50-minute tutorial weekly
Course context
Associated majors: History; Australian Studies

Associated minor: Indigenous Studies

Bachelor of Archaeology
Assignment(s), test, tutorial participation.
Topic description
This topic examines the broad sweep of Australian culture, politics and society through the lens of the historian. A key focus is the many different and contested stories that make up our understanding of the national past, the intention being to convey its multi-layered texture. At the same time the topic be samples a variety of different ways historians may approach such stories. Students will read primary and secondary sources that develop their understanding of key events in Australia's past and the multiple ways in which they have been interpreted. Indigenous perspectives are central to this process and through this topic students will become familiar with the complexities of race relations, land tenure, issue of gender and class that have characterised Australia's history. Points of focus for this topic include the European Enlightenment and its influence on the colonisation of Australia; the gendered convict experience; race relations on the gold fields; late nineteenth-century nationalism and federation; the Stolen Generations; and the Great Depression.
Educational aims
This topic aims to:

  • increase your knowledge and understanding of the major themes and issues in Australian histories
  • draw your attention to the forces that shape our perception of the Australia's pasts and the ways history is used in the present
  • enable you to recognise and critically evaluate the arguments you encounter in secondary historical works
  • develop your ability to use primary sources for historical research
  • introduce you to some of the major varieties and approaches (methodologies) of historical study
  • foster an atmosphere of respect for one another's perspectives, that encourages cooperative creative thinking

Expected learning outcomes
Students successfully completing this topic should be able to demonstrate that they

  • have gained an understanding of key themes, issues and events in Australia's history
  • have developed an awareness of the forces that shape our perceptions of the past
  • are able to distinguish between primary and secondary sources and understand their uses for historians
  • can critically evaluate the arguments encountered in secondary sources
  • recognise a variety of approaches used by historians to draw conclusions about the past
  • have acquired some of the practical skills necessary for historical work - including library research, use of primary sources, and the ability to structure an historical argument
  • have developed their ability to engage in collaborative learning through informed discussion with others in atmosphere that fosters mutual respect