An Introduction to Big History - 2018

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: Essay 1 - Synoptic Essay (40%) , Essays - Short 4 x 500 words 10% each (40%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2018 Fees
Domestic 809.00
HECS 820.00
International 1,059.00

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.  1. Recognise and explain key historical phenomena, patterns, and themes across time.
  2. Summarise the large-scale chronology of the past, identifying important thresholds
  3. Locate and interpret evidence about the past from a variety of disciplines
  4. Assess and apply selected approaches to the study of the past from a variety of disciplines
  5. Synthesise diverse primary and secondary evidence, from a variety of disciplines, to compose original written and oral arguments
  6. outline a major scientific theory of change and express your judgement about whether it is 'history'
  • Essay 1 — Synoptic Essay (40%)
  • Essays — Short 4 x 500 words 10% each (40%)
  • Participation (10%)
  • Peer Evaluation — Peer assessment (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.

Textbook information for this unit is currently being updated and will be available soon. Please check back regularly for updates. Alternatively, visit the The Co-op website and enter the unit details to search for available textbooks.

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