Credit points


Campus offering

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10 cp from 100-level units in History or Sociology

Unit rationale, description and aim

Understanding Australia's multicultural past is necessary for historians, teachers and a range of professions interested in people and policy. This unit explores the experiences of people travelling to Australia and the patterns of interaction and change that developed in different regions of Australia as a result of the impact of immigrants and refugees. Using case studies and real stories this unit provides students with a chance to think about the history of displacement and exclusion as well as diversity and inclusion and to consider the long history of political debate connected to immigration. Students will use active research techniques to do "hands-on" history projects connecting individual case studies to a range of periods and contexts. The aim of the unit is to explore Australia's rich history of immigration in the context of different periods and types of migration worldwide and the motivating factors that stimulated different phases and stages of migration.

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Discuss theoretical and factual knowledge of Australian immigration patterns in a global context and an awareness of debates in history and heritage regarding immigration and refugees in Australia (GA1, GA2, GA5, GA6, GA7) 

LO2 - Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audience (GA9) 

LO3 - Locate, use and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary materials relevant to immigrants and refugees in Australian history to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argument (GA3, GA8, GA10) 

LO4 - Apply critical reading skills to your understanding of immigrants and refugees in Australian history and the methods such as oral history that historians have used to research (GA4, GA5) 

LO5 - Interpret and reflect on key ethical and historical debates relating to real-world situations involving immigrants and refugees in Australia over time. (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will be drawn from the following themes:  

  • Immigration and settler-colonisation: dispossession and forced relocation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities 
  • Jumping ship: migration and empire 
  • Rush for the Diggings: gold rush migration to Australia 
  • Migration from Asia 
  • Connections between Indigenous and Asian communities in Australia 
  • Australia and global economies of migration 
  • Labour and Immigration 
  • ‘Whiteness’ and Australian Immigration Policies 
  • Displacement, diaspora and community: migration and ‘home’ 
  • International causes and patterns of immigration  
  • Refugees, ‘boat people’, asylum-seekers and policing Australia’s borders 
  • Being migrant: beliefs, belongings, experiences 
  • Multiculturalism and identity in Australia 
  • Oral history and primary source techniques and ethical investigation of real people’s stories

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This 10 credit-point unit is delivered face-to-face, using active and inquiry-based learning. Classes will facilitate active learning, where students engage in discussion of case studies, events and concepts, and critically examine historical debates. Independently, students undertake inquiry-based learning activities, exploring concepts, issues and questions regarding Australian immigration. 

Students will be asked to develop specific skills in oral history and/or primary history research and show an understanding of the historical debates in Australian immigration history. They will be expected to locate, analyse and communicate the findings of their own research topic relevant to the experience of immigrants and/or refugees in Australia. 

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 semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as lectures, tutorials, reading, reflection, discussion, film screenings, skills workshops, private study and assignments etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In this unit, assessment is designed to develop ‘hands-on’ history skills in investigating the history of people who have migrated to Australia at different times in Australian history. The investigative task requires students to analyse the sorts of sources available on immigration from material culture, museum displays or primary and secondary sources. The research essay develops key skills in writing history about individuals and requires primary source techniques using documents and/or oral history combined with secondary research in the context of their understanding of Australian immigrants and refugees in the context of global migration patterns. This hands-on history approach introduces students to the ethical conduct of historians, oral history interview techniques and sensitive handling of personal stories. 


This is achieved progressively through assessment of students’ comprehension of in-class topics, followed by a hands-on task that develops skills they have observed in secondary sources; and a research essay, requiring students to use the skills they have learned to do history: 

  1. Short answer response, assessing key topics explored in class which assesses learning outcomes 1 and 2 
  2. An investigative task which assesses learning outcomes 1-2 
  3. An essay based on an original oral history interview or primary sources and secondary source research which assesses learning outcomes 2-5. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Short answer response assessment 

This task requires student to respond to questions based on topics explored in class 


LO1, LO2 

GA1, GA2, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA9  

Investigative task 

Students will investigate a topic related to immigration through a variety of public history, primary or secondary sources 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Research essay  

Students will develop skills in researching immigration history through ‘hands-on’ history techniques such oral history or primary source research as well as secondary reading. Where students use oral history interviews, taught ethics components will be included in the assignment in appropriate stages. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Baldassar, Loretta Visits home: migration experiences home between Italy and Australia Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2001 

Butler, K. Witnessing Australian Stories: History, Testimony and Memory in Contemporary Culture, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers 2013.  

Fitzgerald, J. Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2007 

Hammerton, J. and Thomson, A. Ten Pound Poms: Australia’s Invisible Migrants. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005. 

Jupp, J. (ed.) The Australian People: An Encyclopaedia of the Nation and its People and their Origins. 2nd ed., Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 

Kabir, Nahid Afrose. Muslims in Australia Immigration, Race Relations and Cultural History. Studies in Anthropology, Economy and Society. London ; New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, 2010. 

Mountford, Benjamin. Britain, China, and Colonial Australia. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2016. 

Neumann, Klaus. Across the Seas: Australia's response to refugees: a history, Collingwood: Black Ink, 2015. 

Persian, Jayne. Beautiful Balts: from Displaced Persons to New Australians Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, 2017. 

Ricatti, Francesco. Embodying Migrants: Italians in Postwar Australia. Bern: Peter Lang Publishing, 2011. 

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