Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


10 cp from 100-level units in History or Politics and International Relations

Teaching organisation

3 contact hours of teaching each week for 12 weeks or equivalent

Unit rationale, description and aim

Fascism is a widely used term of abuse but a very poorly understood historical-political concept. For students properly to understand present concerns regarding the revival of authoritarian and populist movements, a deep understanding of fascism - its causes, character and consequences - is essential. In this unit students use a range of primary and secondary sources to examine key historical issues such as the origins of fascism, the nature of fascist ideology, rival and changing interpretations of fascism, fascism in power, the role of anti-Semitism in fascist theory and practice, war and fascism, and the postwar memory of fascism. Students will also consider a range of methodological approaches used by historians to analyse the nature, impact and legacies of fascism. Where appropriate, the unit will focus on specific nation-based case studies in order to 'drill down' into key issues and debates. The aim of this unit is to equip History students with the knowledge, understanding and skills required to make sense of arguably the most powerful and destructive political movement of the twentieth century.

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 fascism and an awareness of historical debates surrounding it. (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 the history of fascism to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argument (GA3, GA8, GA10)  

LO4 - Apply critical reading skills to your understanding of the history of fascism and the methods that historians have used to research it. (GA4, GA5) 

LO5 - Interpret and reflect on key ethical and historical debates relating to real-world situations/case studies in the history of fascism. (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 include:  

  • The origins of fascism 
  • Fascist ideology 
  • Interpretations of fascism 
  • Comparing fascisms    
  • Nation-based case studies may examine in depth one or more of the following issues (this list is not prescriptive): 
  • Fascism in theory and practice 
  • Fascism and society 
  • Fascism and the economy 
  • Fascism and foreign policy 
  • Fascism and anti-Semitism 
  • Fascism and the Holocaust 
  • Fascism and religion 
  • Fascism and gender 
  • Fascism and war 
  • Fascism and culture   
  • Anti-fascist resistance movements 
  • Dealing with the ‘unmasterable past’: remembering and forgetting ‘historical’ fascism. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Mode: Attendance, comprising of (a) in-class lectures and seminars and online interactive learning activities (for domestic delivery) or (b) predominantly site-based experiential, group-based and problem-solving learning and teaching activities and online interactive learning experiences (for intensive overseas delivery).  

In on-campus attendance mode lectures provide students with basic content knowledge, as well as guidance and advice around key interpretations, debates and problems. In this way, lectures also establish a framework appropriate for independent learning. Active student participation is anticipated and encouraged in seminars. Seminars are designed to provide students with a peer-to-peer learning environment in which they can discuss and debate issues and problems raised in lectures, in set readings and through their own reading. Students consolidate their understanding, knowledge, analytical and communication skills through negotiation and interaction with both other students and staff. Seminars may take a variety of forms, all of which provide different learning opportunities, including: working in pairs to share ideas; working in small groups for quick analysis, debate and identification of the most relevant and salient information; opportunities to brainstorm; opportunities to participate in whole group discussions; opportunities to work with source materials (primary and secondary); opportunities to learn through informal presentations. Interactive online learning may involve activities such as short quizzes to test, reinforce and increase students’ knowledge, text analysis exercises to improve student’s awareness of and engagement with a range of key source materials, group discussion fora to facilitate peer-to-peer learning, and reflective exercises (e.g. learning logs) to encourage students to think critically about how and what they have learnt.  

When the unit is delivered intensively overseas, the learning and teaching strategy prioritises a ‘hands-on’, field-based approach. Studies of field-based learning demonstrate that leaving the classroom and learning through first-hand experience makes learning more interesting, enjoyable and relevant to students. This has been found to lead to greater student engagement, deeper learning and increased effectiveness in achieving learning outcomes. Field-based learning has also been shown to create a collective mentality among participants which enhances students’ understanding of the importance of cooperation and teamwork. On-site, group-based, problem-based learning activities are employed in order to develop content knowledge as well as problem-solving, reasoning, communication, and self-assessment skills. End-of-day debriefs while overseas and a post-field school debrief session back in Australia allow students to reflect on their learning experiences both during and after the completion of the field school. Students are also expected to maintain an online learning log on LEO for the duration of the unit overseas. Research shows that critical reflection facilitates deeper learning. 

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. 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 the History discipline, second year units are designed to include a selection of the following assessment tasks: 


  • Active research tasks that require students to find and use primary and secondary sources 
  • Digital search techniques for online archives and/or digital newspaper databases 
  • ‘Hands on’ historical methods such as oral history, textual and visual analysis, etc. 
  • Research essay/challenge  
  • In-class debates or team challenges 
  • Forums/blogs/online discussion 
  • Short answer responses 
  • Short quizzes/in-class tests 
  • Tutorial-based assignments/presentations 

Students in this unit will be encouraged to: develop specific skills in locating, reading and analysing sources; consider different approaches to the past and the dynamics of historical and historiographical debate; and employ active research techniques into their own research and analysis. This unit introduces students to strategies that will help them to: (a) understand and interpret the history of a particular country (or countries); (b) take a thematic approach to the study of the past.  

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass the unit, students are required to submit and participate in all assessment tasks. The tasks are linked in a developmentally progressive sequence with assessment task being a relatively lightly-weighted, reflective assessment task to assess student achievement of LO1 and LO2. It gives students the opportunity to reflect critically on learning activities linked to the unit and consider how those activities have extended, challenged, changed or reinforced their understanding of fascism and the historical debates surrounding it and identify what they have learned; how they have learned it; how they have applied that learning. Assessment task two (research task) assesses student achievement of LOs 1-4 and is designed to demonstrate and develop students’ ability to locate and use relevant primary and secondary materials and to apply critical reading skills to a specific issue, debate, site or theme linked to the historical study of Fascism demonstrate their understanding of the issue, debate, site, or theme under discussion. Assessment task three (summative task) assesses student achievement of LOs 1-5. This task allows students to demonstrate the skills, understanding and knowledge they have acquired and/or developed during the unit through the construction of an appropriately referenced and sourced, evidence-based, historical narrative or argument in written form.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Reflective task 

The task gives students the opportunity to critically discuss learning activities linked to the unit and consider how the knowledge they have acquired through those activities has extended, challenged, changed or reinforced their understanding of fascism and the historical debates surrounding it. 


LO1, LO2 

GA1, GA2, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA9 

Research task 

The task allows students the opportunity to demonstrate and develop their ability to locate and use relevant primary and secondary materials and to apply critical reading skills to a specific issue, debate, site or theme linked to the historical study of fascism. The task also allows students to demonstrate their understanding of the issue, debate, site, or theme under discussion, and show they can clearly communicate their findings in written and/or oral form, incorporating some discipline terms. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

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

Summative task 

This task enables students to demonstrate the skills, understanding and knowledge they have acquired and/or developed during the unit through the construction of an appropriately referenced and sourced, evidence-based, historical narrative or argument. The task also allows students to demonstrate their ability to communicate their ideas and arguments clearly in written form. 


The lecturer may designate this task to be in the form of short answer responses, test/s, take-home exam, exam, reflective essay/poster or simulation exercise. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

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

Representative texts and references

Bosworth, R. J. B. (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Fascism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010 

Caplan, J. (ed.). Nazi Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.  

Childers, T. The Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2017. 

Duggan, C. Fascist Voices: An Intimate History of Mussolini’s Italy. London: The Bodley Head, 2012.  

Gregor, N. (ed.). Nazism, War and Genocide. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. 2005 

Griffin, R., Loh, W., Umland, A. (eds.). Fascism Past and Present, West and East – An International Debate on Concepts and Cases in the Comparative Study of the Extreme Right. Stuttgart: Ibidem Press, 2014. 

Kallis, A. A. (ed.). The Fascism Reader. Abingdon: Routledge, 2003 

Kershaw, I. The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation. 4th edition. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2000. 

Passmore, K. Fascism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002 

Pinto, A. C. Rethinking the Nature of Fascism. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 

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