Credit points


Campus offering

Find out more about study modes.

Unit offerings may be subject to minimum enrolment numbers.

Please select your preferred campus.

  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Clemente Program
  • Semester 2Multi-mode
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 2Multi-mode
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 2Multi-mode
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 2Multi-mode




HIST268 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Communities: Sharing Histories of Australia

Unit rationale, description and aim

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' histories and perspectives are central to a range of important conversations in Australian society relating to social justice, public policy and national identity.

This unit is designed to offer students a greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, history and contemporary issues, and to apply this knowledge to a range of contemporary contexts and debates. Major themes will include: traditional cultures and histories, changing historical and contemporary cultures, Indigenous movements and issues as well as the contributions of Indigenous people in the making of Australia. The unit also develops key historical skills in analysing primary sources and secondary materials.

The aim of this unit is to focus students on the diversity of Indigenous Australia with particular emphasis on the cultures and history of the region in which it is being taught, through involvement of, and consultation with, Indigenous community members in planning and implementation.

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
LO1Describe a range of factual knowledge of the histories of Australian Indigenous peoples in historical settingsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC6
LO2Communicate clearly in written and/or oral formGC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC6
LO3Use and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary sources relevant to the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australian history to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argumentGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC5, GC6
LO4Apply critical reading skills to your understanding of the histories of Australian Indigenous peoplesGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC5, GC6
LO5Identify and reflect on key ethical and historical debates relating to real-world situations/case studies relating to Australian Indigenous peoples over timeGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC5, GC6


Topics will include: 

  • Local case studies developed in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the region in which the unit is being offered  
  • Pre-contact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and societies 
  • The impact of European invasion and colonisation, and the responses from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 
  • The history of government policies; segregation and protection; establishment of reserves and missions; assimilation; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activism, self- determination and reconciliation 
  • Theories and experiences of racism and contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues 
  • Contemporary expressions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, lifestyles and histories 
  • Contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to all aspects of Australian life.   

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit uses an active learning approach to facilitate the development of skills fundamental to the discipline of history and deep understanding of course content. Students engage in active learning activities, such as reading, writing, discussion and problem-solving to promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content. Students use case studies to explore how what they have learned applies to real world situations. 

Students in this unit will be encouraged to develop specific skills in reading and understanding primary sources; begin to understand the dynamics of historical and historiographical debate and incorporate secondary material into their own research and analysis. This unit introduces students to historical strategies for understanding how to interpret a broad sweep of history. 

This unit has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the teaching period. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support student learning, chosen to complement the mode of delivery of the unit. These may include lectures, online modules, tutorials, (online) discussion and debate, reading, small group activities, reflection, film screenings, presentations, historical skills-building activities, and assignments.

Mode of delivery: This unit may be offered in different modes, as described below.

On Campus

Most learning activities or classes are delivered at a scheduled time, on campus, to enable in-person interactions. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.


Learning activities are delivered through a planned mix of online and in-person classes, which may include full-day sessions, to enable interaction. Activities that require attendance will appear in a student’s timetable.

Online unscheduled

Learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere. These units are normally delivered fully online and will not appear in a student’s timetable. 

Online scheduled

All learning activities are held online, at scheduled times, and will require some attendance to enable online interaction. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.

ACU Online 

In ACU Online mode, this unit is delivered asynchronously, fully online using an active, guided learning approach. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In the History discipline, first year units are designed to include a selection of the following assessment tasks to build skills around the discipline: 

  • Primary source document analyses (maps, images and documents) 
  • Analytical reading challenges 
  • In-class debates 
  • Library exercises 
  • Research Essay/Challenges  
  • Online discussion boards 
  • Short answer responses 
  • Short quizzes/In-class tests 
  • Tutorial assignments/presentations. 

The assessment for this unit embeds Indigenous perspectives, requiring students to engage with Indigenous-created historical accounts, sources and narratives. The assessments are scaffolded to require students to develop historical skills progressively, beginning with concrete practical skills.   

  • The history skills exercise requires students to answer questions in order to demonstrate developing competency in fundamental skills required to write history assignments.  
  • This will be followed by a critical analysis of primary and secondary sources requiring students to apply critical analysis and skills fundamental to the discipline of history to respond to a question or questions using both primary and secondary sources.  
  • Finally, students will complete an historical essay, demonstrating the skills and techniques developed in Assignments 1 and 2 in the form of a sustained piece of historical essay writing. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Capabilities

Assessment Task 1: Learning to Think Historically 

The purpose of this exercise is to develop knowledge around the use of primary and secondary materials relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to introduce students to different approaches to historical thinking. 


LO1, LO2GC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC6

Assessment Task 2: Analysis of Primary and Secondary Sources  

The function of this assessment is to develop skills in critical reading, the use of evidence and clear communication. 


LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5GC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC5, GC6

Assessment Task 3: Historical Essay 

This essay provides a forum for students to apply knowledge and skills in the construction of an evidence-based historical narrative or argument. 


LO2, LO4, LO5GC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC5, GC6

* At least one assignment should require students to engage with Australian Indigenous perspectives on history through such sources as Indigenous guest speakers, Indigenous-created exhibitions, or Indigenous-authored histories/testimonies. 

Representative texts and references

Attwood, B. & Markus, A. (eds) The Struggle for Aboriginal Rights: a documentary history. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2020. 

Broome, R. Aboriginal Australians: a history since 1788. 5th ed., Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 2020. 

Curthoys, A., Genovese, A., and Reilly, A. Rights and Redemption: History, law and Indigenous people. Sydney: UNSW Press, 2008. 

Haebich, A. Broken Circles: Fragmenting Indigenous families, 1800-2000. Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2000. 

McKenna, Mark. Looking for Blackfellas' Point: an Australian history of place. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2002. 

Moreton-Robinson, A. The White Possessive: Property, Power and Indigenous Sovereignty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015. 

Pearson, N. Up from the Mission: Selected writings. Melbourne: Black Inc., 2011. 

Perkins, R. and Langton, M. (eds.) First Australians: An illustrated history. Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2010. 

Price, K. (ed.) Knowledge of Life: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 

Rintoul, S. The Wailing: a national black oral history, Melbourne: William Heinemann, 1993. 

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs