Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


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

Unit rationale, description and aim

Eighteenth century, the Western world has undergone significant transformations in the expectations of society in terms of protecting and supporting children and young people, and so too have the ways in which young people have experienced and made meaning of their worlds. In this unit students will focus on histories of vulnerable and marginalised peoples through a hands-on history research project designed to develop a deep historical understanding of why attempts to protect children and young people from perceived harms often effectively punished those same people, why children and young people's voices have often been overlooked, and how historians can restore their voices to history. The unit will introduce students to the notion that childhood has not always been understood or experienced as it is today, and progresses to ask how and why certain children have been excluded from the expanding opportunities available to many children over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. It will draw on a range of sources, including archival records, oral histories, autobiography and testimony to explore the ways in which social constructions of children and young people have changed over time, and use these historical trends to critique contemporary debates around childhood and youth.

The aim of this unit is to extend student s' capacity to place contemporary discussion about marginalised and vulnerable young people in appropriate historical contexts, and to equip them with practical independent historical research skills.

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 changing ideas about childhood and youth in Western society and an awareness of historical debates surrounding them (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 primary and secondary materials, and use them to develop an evidence-based narrative or argument as part of a hands-on history research project (GA3, GA8, GA10) 

LO4 - Apply critical reading skills to your understanding of the treatment of children and youth in history and the methods such as archival and oral history 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 history of childhood and youth over time (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6)

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:  

  • Changing ideas about childhood and youth in Britain, Australia and the United States from the eighteenth century to the present. 
  • Historical changes regarding children, young people and labour 
  • Historical developments with respect to children, young people and the law 
  • Marginalised, vulnerable and forgotten children and young people in history including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and world Indigenous peoples’ experiences 
  • Contemporary debates around childhood and youth. 

The unit will also develop hands-on history skills through a selection of the following 

  • Archival research 
  • Analysing oral histories 
  • Analysing testimonies/memoirs/autobiographies 
  • Analysing historical legislation/policies 
  • Constructing microhistories 
  • Historical media and/or image analysis 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This 10 credit-point 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. 

On campus offerings of this unit will engage students in active learning through in-class activities which allow students to practice hands-on research with historical sources, and explore the various techniques that historians use to understand the experiences and voices of children and young people in the past. These activities begin with examinations of case studies draw from the early 20th century or earlier, and then ask students to consider how research strategies they have learned in studying these earlier periods might be applied to understanding marginalised and vulnerable children in more recent history and in the present. Students will be guided to apply this knowledge to hands-on history project which will require students to use analyse primary sources drawn from publicly available archival collections relating to the history of childhood and youth. 

Fully online offerings of this unit will engage students in Active Learning by asking them to complete collaborative online activities in relation to an historical case study, allowing students to form an online community in which to share ideas about how to critically discuss the case study material. Online activities will then guide students through the process of applying these learnings to a hands-on history project which will require students to use analyse primary sources drawn from publicly available archival collections relating to the history of childhood and youth. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. Such procedures may include, but are not limited to: essays, examinations, student presentations or case studies.  

Assessment will include an individual research project to specifically address learning outcome two and develop the students’ graduate attributes GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10. 

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; using material objects 
  • Research Essay/Challenge  
  • In-class debates or team challenges. 
  • Forums/Blogs/online discussion 
  • Short answer responses 
  • Short quizzes/In-class tests 
  • Tutorial assignments/presentations 

Students in this unit will be encouraged to develop specific skills in locating materials that reveal histories of childhood and youth (by conducting or use of existing oral history interviews); and/or 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. The Skills Development Task requires students to demonstrate their acquisition of hands-on history skills developed in the first part of the unit, and their ability to apply these to relevant historical facts and theories. This equips them for the unit’s major assignment, the Hands-on History Research Project. 

This unit introduces students to historical strategies for understanding how to interpret a thematic approach to history and, importantly, how to use historical studies to inform understandings of more contemporary social debates. The Summative Task asks students to demonstrate their ability to apply historical learnings from the unit to issues and debates from the more recent past. 

The assessment strategy has been designed to suit both face-to-face and online offerings, although the Hurdle task which involves participating in a face-to-face workshop is not part of the online offering. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assignment 1: Skills Development Task 

The purpose of this assignment is to require students to demonstrate a developing mastery of the key ideas and historical skills required in Assignment 2


LO1, LO2

GA5, GA6, GA7, GA9 

Assignment 2: Hands-on History Research Project 

The purpose of this assignment is to expose students to primary sources that historians use in real world settings, and for students to use these together with secondary sources to construct an evidence-based response to a set question. 


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 

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

Assignment 3: Summative Task 

The purpose of this assignment is to ask students to demonstrate that they can apply what they have learned about childhood and youth from historical settings to issues and debates in the more recent past and present


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

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

HURDLE TASK (on campus mode only): Participation in a workshop relating to either Assignment 2 or Assignment 3 

The purpose of this is to give students a low-stakes introduction to the experience of peer review and critical debate. (In online modes the exercise would be online)



GA5, GA6, GA7

Representative texts and references

Bellanta, M. Larrikins: A History. St. Lucia, QLD: University of Queensland Press, 2012. 

Cunningham, H. Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500. Longman: London, 1995. 

Davidoff, L. Thicker Than Water: Siblings and their Relations, 1780-1920. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. 

Hendrick, H. Children, Childhood and English Society 1880-1990. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 

Kociumbas, J. Australian Childhood: A History. St Leonards, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 1997. 

Mintz, S. Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood. Cambridge, Mass: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004. 

Morrison, H. (Ed). The Global History of Childhood Reader. New York: Routledge, 2012. 

Musgrove, N. and Michell, D. The Slow Evolution of Foster Care in Australia—Just like a Family? London: Palgrace Macmillan, 2018. 

Stearns, P. Childhood in World History. 2nd ed, New York: Routledge, 2011. 

Swain, S. and Hillel, M. Child, Nation, Race and Empire: Child Rescue Discourse, England, Canada and Australia, 1850-1915. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010. 

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