Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


10 cp from 100-level units in History or Sociology

Teaching organisation

Two hours of lecture and one hour of tutorial supplemented with online activities (or equivalent)

Unit rationale, description and aim

Historians often refer to 'silences' in history and seek ways to retrieve its missing 'voices'. This unit explores the ways in which women's historians have worked to record, recover and interpret silenced or forgotten voices, histories of everyday experience and gendered national narratives, In this unit, students undertake their own searches of historical newspaper databases to recover voices and attitudes from the past and use oral history to discover the stories of living women. This unit provides students with opportunities to do "hands on" history investigating the changing experiences and perspectives of Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous women in Australia from the colonial frontier through to modern times in a variety of cultural and ethnic contexts. Specific case studies and research challenges will focus on debates and changing perspectives on women as well as allowing women to tell their stories. The unit discusses a range of approaches to history including feminist and oral history techniques. The aim of this unit is to develop students' understanding of history through women's experiences and women's voices.

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 the social, cultural, political and economic history of women in Australia and an awareness of the debates surrounding this. (GA5, GA6). 

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 textual, oral, media and material resources relating to the history of women in Australian history to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argument  (GA3, GA7, GA8, G10) 

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

Graduate attributes

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:  

  • Learning to listen: finding women’s voices in Australian History 
  • Indigenous and non-Indigenous women’s experience  
  • Women’s voices: written sources (letters, diaries, images and digital newspaper databases) 
  • 19th century case studies may include: Women and work, the vote and ‘First Wave’ feminism, maternity and childbearing or other topics. 
  • 20th century case studies may include: gendered policy: divorce, sex education and contraception, ‘the marriage bar’, women and war, shattered Anzacs, family violence, adoption, equal pay, the ‘nuclear family’, feminisms of the 1950s and 1960s; voices of migrants and refugee women, or other topics.   
  • Women’s History: Rethinking Domesticity 
  • ‘Second Wave’ feminism: the personal is political 
  • Contemporary issues and debates 
  • Gender, Transgender, and diverse voices in history 
  • Recording women’s voices: oral history, ownership and ethical applied history 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This 10 credit-point unit provides hands-on learning (including collaborative learning). It takes the form of a face-to-face class containing activities through which students will gain a deep understanding of the history of Australian Women’s History and the skills fundamental to the study of history. Key learning activities will include oral history, searching historic newspaper databases, reading, writing, group discussion, primary source analysis, debate, and problem-solving. 

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, and assignments etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Students in this unit will be encouraged to develop specific skills in locating materials on women in history and on a particular woman (by conducting or use of existing oral history interviews); reading and analysing sources, especially through digitised newspaper archives; consider different approaches to the past and the dynamics of historical and historiographical debate and employ active research techniques in their own research and analysis. This unit introduces students to historical strategies for understanding how to interpret a thematic approach to history and feminist approaches in particular. 

The assessment program for this unit, is designed to enable students to demonstrate the development of their historical skills, and their knowledge of the history of women in Australian history, throughout the course of the semester. 

The Investigative Task assesses the student’s capacity to work with and interpret primary and secondary sources. This assessment may take the form of active research tasks that require students to locate and use primary and secondary sources; or, digital search techniques for online archives and/or digital newspaper databases. The investigative task assesses learning outcomes 1-3. 

The Student-led Learning Task requires students to work collaboratively to research a topic in Australian women’s history and to present their findings to their peers and/or lecturer in an appropriate written/oral format. The Student-led Learning Task assesses Learning Outcomes 2-4. 

The Research Project and presentation, assesses the student’s ability to conduct a piece of substantive individual research on a topic in Australian Women’s History, utilising oral, primary and secondary source materials. This task assesses Learning Outcomes 2-5. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Hurdle Task when oral history interviews are required: 

  • complete the oral history interview training and ethics training  
  • then conduct an oral history interview and submit required ethics forms and sound file by specified date. 



GA4, GA5 

Investigative task 

This assignment requires students to find and analyse women’s voices in primary sources, historic newspapers or other media. 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA3, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Student Led Learning task  

This assignment requires students to work collaboratively to research a topic in Australian women’s history and to present their findings to their peers and/or lecturer in an appropriate written/oral format. 


LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Research Project  

This assignment builds on the oral history interview conducted by the student with an Australian woman (or historian in women’s history or oral history) and requires students to incorporate information, themes, and analysis developed across the semester.  


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

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

Representative texts and references

Bellanta, M and Alana Piper, “‘Looking Flash: Disreputable Women’s Dress and ‘Modernity’, 1870-1910”, History Workshop Journal, 78:1 (2014), 58-81.   

Chesser, L. Parting With My Sex: Cross Dressing, Inversion and Sexuality in Australian Cultural Life, Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2008. 

Feathersone, L, ‘The one single primary cause’: Divorce, the Family and Heterosexual Pleasure in Postwar Australia’, Journal of Australian Studies, 37: 3 (2013), 349-363. 

Forsyth, H. 'Reconsidering women's role in the professionalisation of the economy: evidence from the Australian census 1881-1947' Australian Economic History Review, (2018). 

Grimshaw, P., Lake, M., McGrath, A. and Quartly, M. Creating a Nation. Perth: API network, 2006 (2nd edn). 

Lake, M.  Getting Equal: The History of Australian Feminism. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1999. 

Nelson, E., Smith, S. and Grimshaw, P. (eds)  Letters from Aboriginal Women in Victoria, 1867-1926.Melbourne: History Department, University of Melbourne, 2002. 

Nelson, E. Homefront Hostilities: The First World War and Domestic Violence, North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing 2014.  

Quartly, Marian, Swain, Shurlee and Cuthbert Denise, The Market in Babies: Stories of Australian Adoption, Melbourne: Monash University Publishing, 2013. 

Warne, E. Agitate, Educate, Organise, Legislate: Australian Protestant Women’s Social Activism in Post-Suffrage Australia, Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2017. 

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