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40 cp from units in Visual Arts and Design

Unit rationale, description and aim

The mission of the University confirms ACU's commitment to producing graduates who are ethical in their behaviour, demonstrate impact through empathy, and are skilled in their chosen field. The Community Internship is a capstone unit that develops these qualities, and stresses four key tenets of community engagement: critical reflection, active learning, student involvement in community-learning and civic engagement experiences.

Offering students in the Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design degree the chance to undertake a placement in the local community enables students to gain valuable industry experience and contribute to the arts community in tangible ways. In this unit students are required to undertake an internship as a volunteer in any area across the creative industries. This may include: fine art, graphic and web design, animation, community art, art teaching, art historical studies, museums or gallery operations, curation, publishing and illustration. The unit will provide an ethical and professional focus for students as they prepare for a diversity of careers in visual arts and design.

The aim of this unit is to provide students with the opportunity to improve their leadership, communication and organisational skills while making a valuable difference to a variety of not-for-profit, ethically-focused community arts organisations and creative social enterprises. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Recognise the ethical and social responsibility of decision makers in business, government and community organisationsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC7, GC11
LO2Reflect on workplace experience in order to better inform future career choicesGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC11
LO3Explain how their visual art and design practices and creative problem solving skills, acquired during their academic studies, have contributed to a related workplace settingGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC10, GC11


Prior to the placement, topics may include:

  • Contract learning and negotiated collaboration between lecturer and students and the internship mentor to identify the research into the professional practice of the selected mentor and organisation.
  • Determining Internship goals, timelines, OHS issues, placements methods for establishing contact, presentation, reportage and ethnographic and evidential documentation procedures, ethics and responsibilities of mutuality in internship placements.
  • Preparation of an Internship contract between the Internship Coordinator and student. Including ways to determine and define his/her leadership role in the placement.
  • Setting up of placements and methods of delivery.
  • Evaluation and ethnographic research methodology and techniques in the form of journaling and reports.

Placements are for 105 hours either as a three-week block or in regular placement for one or more days per week.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The activities listed below function to expose students to a body of knowledge related to community-engagement practices and social entrepreneurship in advance of students developing and applying skills in real-world settings.

  • This unit is designed to provide students with 'hands on' experience in an area of professional and community practice related to their area of specialisation.
  • Under the guidance of the lecturer, the student will undertake research into aspects of professional practices of the selected mentor.
  • This research will form the basis of a work proposal which must be approved by both the lecturer in charge and the mentor before commencement.
  • Each student and the participating organisation will need to complete a project agreement form that clarifies the role to be performed by the student and the expectations of both parties.
  • The service period may be completed in a full or part-time capacity depending upon the needs of the organisation.
  • There is no expected payment for the service performed.
  • The range of service activities undertaken may encompass serving as a general volunteer in an establishment conducted by an organisation or assisting with a community project concerned with the visual arts and/or design.
  • Staff running this unit will ensure there is current ethics clearance when the unit is run.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to complete any hurdle requirements and produce a workplace journal and concluding essay that demonstrates the fulfilment of the agreed learning objectives, as set out in the Project Agreement Form.

There are two assessment tasks in the unit that are graded Pass/Fail.

The first task, the essay, reports on a community-based internship, discusses the significant insights gained into workplace issues, and further develops employability skills in communication, planning and organisation, self-management and problem solving. The essay should discuss the strategic plan and mission of the host organisation and its relationship to community development goals. This assesses learning outcomes 1 and 2.

The second task, the journal, fitting for a third-year capstone unit, critically reflects on their placement experience and observations and requires students to reflect on how the skills developed over the degree were applied in the workplace setting. Students also consider active citizenship and community leadership issues within a specific organisational or community context. This assesses learning outcomes 2 and 3.

At the completion of the unit, the participating organisation is asked to complete a brief appraisal of the student and to document the period and extent of the Internship. If appropriate, this appraisal may be requested by the student intern as a formal reference for their curriculum vitae. The student is required to submit a written report and journal to the internship Lecturer in Charge for formal assessment. The unit will be assessed on a pass/fail basis.

The combined total assessment does not exceed 4,000 words, divided between the journal and essay. Word lengths of the journal and the concluding essay will be decided in discussion with the Lecturer in Charge. The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to reflect on the workplace experience, their knowledge and skillsets and to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Capabilities

Assessment Task 1: Essay


LO1, LO2GC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC7, GC11

Assessment Task 2: Internship Journal

The Internship Journal explains how practical, theoretical and research skills were applied in the workplace.


LO2, LO3GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC10, GC11

Representative texts and references

Australian Council for the Arts. (2008). Visual arts: protocols for producing Indigenous Australian visual arts. Australian Council for the Arts.

Beyerbach, B. & Davis, D. (2011). Activist art in social justice pedagogy: Engaging students in local issues through the arts. Counterpoints: Studies in the postmodern theory of education, (403).

National Association for the Visual Arts. (n.d.) Code of Practice.

Department of Human Services (2006). Building better partnerships: Working with Aboriginal communities and organisations. Victorian Government Printers.

Goldbard, A. (2006). New creative community: The art of cultural development. New Village Press.

Marstine, J. (2006). New museum theory and practice: An introduction. Malden.

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