An Introduction to Big History - 2017

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Undergraduate Level 1
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: Yes
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP
  • Availability for 2017: Sem1 , Sem2 , Sem3
  • Availability for 2018: Sem1 , Sem3
  • Assessment: Analysis Task - Synoptic Analysis Task (40%) , Essay 1 (20%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2017 Fees
Domestic 793.00
HECS 793.00
International 1,043.00

This unit was previously known as HSTX115 An Introduction to Big History.

Please note: This unit is available in Macquarie Semester 3. This is an intensive semester which spans only 9 weeks (including recess). Students are advised to enrol in only one or two units in Semester 3.

This is the history of everything. While most history units look in detail at a particular country, theme or period, this unit surveys history on the biggest possible scale. It begins with the origins of the Universe and goes on to tell a series of linked stories about the origins of the stars and planets; the earth and its inhabitants; human beings; various types of human societies; and global interactions to the present day. Students in the unit explore the changing interactions between people, and between people and the environment. In so doing, they are encouraged to think about the kinds of evidence available to historians and the role that history can play in understanding the local and global communities that people belong to today. Finally, the unit invites students to think about what they regard as the central themes of world histories and big history. No prior knowledge of science or history is required.

 At the completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. analyse and express your judgement about a range of historical phenomena;
  2. read literature from different historical disciplines and interpret written and material evidence with appreciation and understanding;
  3. work with and respond to the views of staff and other students in the unit;
  4. plan, revise and submit written work according to schedule;
  5. self assess your work against pre-selected criteria;
  6. outline a major scientific theory of change and express your judgement about whether it is 'history';
  7. draw together and judge pre-selected and self-located evidence to provide an analysis of a major historical phenomenon in world history;
  8. construct a synopsis of world history, highlighting a self-selected theme. 
  • Analysis Task — Synoptic Analysis Task (40%)
  • Essay 1 (20%)
  • Essay 2 (30%)
  • Participation — Online Participation (10%)

Equivalent units

You cannot enrol in this unit if you have successfully completed any of the following unit(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • HSTX115 — An Introduction to Big History

This unit addresses the following topics.

2Origins of the Universe and Stars
3Origins of the Solar System and Earth
4Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth
5The Evolution of humans
6The earliest human societies
7Agriculture and its importance in human history
8The origins of Power and States
9Evolution of Agrarian Civilisations
10Global Ecological Exchanges
11Towards Modernity
12The Industrial Revolution and Industrialisation
13The Twentieth Century and Beyond

This unit is delivered using the following methods and materials:

Instructional Methods

  • Discussion Forum/Discussion Board
  • Embedded Multimedia
  • Online assignment submission
  • Standard Media
  • Web links

Online materials

  • Resources and Links

This unit is an approved elective in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.

Textbooks are subject to change within the academic year. Students are advised to purchase their books no earlier than one to two months before the start of a unit.

Click on the titles of the listed books below to find out more:

Required textbooks

  • Big History: Between Nothing and Everything

    By:David Christian & Cynthia Brown & Benjamin Craig

    ISBN: 9780073385617


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

  • Enquire online

    Need to ask a question that's best put down in words?
    Make an online enquiry.

    Enquire now

    Ready to enrol?

    Start studying this unit now.


    Got a question?

    Get an answer from one of our friendly Student Advisors.