Subject details

This subject aims to challenge commonly held ideas and beliefs about Australian history and society. In doing so, you are expected to develop skills in working with primary documents and in discriminating between different interpretations of Australia’s past.

After successfully completing this subject you should be able to:

  1. Critique the different perspectives on the major developments in Australian cultural, social and political history when defining national identity, the formation of national structures and institutions.
  2. Critically analyze the forces of change that have seen Australia develop into a multicultural society.
  3. Present your analysis of debates on Australian history to peers.
  4. Source, organize, critically evaluate and interpret information from valid academic references to construct and support an argument.
    • Australia before 1788
    • Convicts and British Colonies in Australia
    • Settlement or Invasion? The Impact of Colonization on Indigenous Australians
    • Life in the Colony to 1820
    • Wool and Gold: Australia from the 1820s to 1850s
    • Cities and Urban Life in the 19th Century
    • Heroes of Colonial Australia?: Explorers and Bushrangers in the 19th Century
    • People on the Margins?: Women and Immigrants in the 19th Century
    • One Nation: The Federation of Australia
    • World War 1 and the ANZAC Legend
    • Australia in the 1930s
    • Australia in the 20th Century
  • Study resources

    • Instructional methods

      • Discussion forum/Discussion Board
      • Online assignment submission
      • Podcasting/Lecture capture
    • Online materials

      • Printable format materials
      • Resources and Links
      • Online Assessment


Note: Level 2 subjects normally assume an introductory level of prior knowledge in this area, e.g. from studying related Level 1 subjects or other relevant experience.

Special requirements

No special requirements

As Deborah Gare says, in Making Australian History (2008): "To many Australians, history is about little more than stories of convicts or the heroic failure at Gallipoli. For the unlucky nine-year-old children I was at school with, it was about the tediously narrated Burke and Wills expedition .... Yet Australia's past is much more significant than the dry-as-dust stuff many have been subjected to, and it remains a constant battleground for power and politics in Australia" (p. xxxi). In this subject, we will go beyond the "dry-as-dust stuff" and explore the broad outlines of Australia's history. From early concepts of Terra Australis and the richness of Aboriginal culture before the establishment of a convict colony by the British in 1788, through the transformation into an independent nation to modern-day multicultural Australia, this subject will look at the confrontations and interactions, the changes and continuities, the successes and failures that have shaped a nation. Themes of particular interest include the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians; the convict experience; life in the colony; Australian experiences of war; and the political, social and cultural changes that have helped shape and reshape contemporary Australia.

  • Essay 1 (30%)
  • Essay 1 (40%)
  • Online Discussion (30%)

Textbooks are not required.

Textbook information is pending.