Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


20 cp from 200- and/or 300-level units in Archaeology or History

Unit rationale, description and aim

This capstone unit examines key conceptual and practical tools that historians use to create and debate history, and provides history graduates with an overarching understanding of the profession. The unit introduces students to key historical techniques and conceptual approaches to writing history, demonstrates how these can be applied to specific case studies, and explores the ways in which historical skills can be applied to a range of social debates. It then leads students through the process of applying this knowledge to their own independent original piece of historiographical work which will engage with at least one of the key theories or methodologies of the unit through community engagement or other active research approaches, and may be presented in written, oral or multi-media formats. By allowing students to apply what they have learned about the past to significant contemporary conversations about history, this unit aims to equip history graduates with the skills to critically examine assumptions about the nature of history and to understand the role of the historian in real world applications and across a range of professional contexts.

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 broad and deep theoretical and applied knowledge of a variety of key conceptual approaches historians use to shape and debate interpretations of the past in local and international contexts (GA5, GA6) 

LO2 - Explain ideas and concepts to a specified audience using audio, digital, oral, visual or written form as appropriate (GA9) 

LO3 - Locate, evaluate and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary materials and use them to sustain a nuanced evidence-based narrative or argument (GA3, GA8, GA10) 

LO4 - Critically analyse historical evidence, synthesise scholarship and changing representations of the past according to the methodological and ethical conventions of the discipline through an independently formulated research task related to current historical debates (GA3, GA7, GA9, GA10) 

LO5 - Interpret and reflect on key historical theories and concepts and relate them to real-world debates about how history has been written and whose interests have been represented (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6). 

Graduate attributes

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

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.


Melbourne and Brisbane

1. Topics will include the following historiographical topics:  

  • What is history? (explored through at least 3 of the following): 
  • Understandings of the nature of history in ancient, medieval and early modern societies 
  • The development of modern history as a discipline 
  • Empiricism and its critics: fact, opinion and interpretation 
  • Community and national identities – history’s role 


2. Testing the boundaries of history (explored through at least 3 of the following): 

  • Marxism and its legacies: history from below, social history and cultural history 
  • The erasure of certainty: Postmodernism and post structuralism 
  • Post colonialism and subsequent theories of people, power, place and race 
  • Gender and history 
  • History and power: owning and telling the past in society and communities 


3. The historian at work (explored through at least 3 of the following): 

  • Archival history 
  • Oral history 
  • Community engaged history 
  • Ethics of historical research 
  • Presenting history to popular and scholarly audiences 
  • History in museums 


4. Indigenous historiography in Australia and the world. 


1.    What is history? (explored through at least 3 of the following Ancient History topics):

  • Understandings of the nature of history in ancient, medieval and early modern societies
  • The development of Ancient history as a discipline
  • Fact, opinion and interpretation: Thucydides and Herodotus
  • Methodology of ancient historians, their reliability, literary aspects of their work, portrayal of other cultures, role of the audience, impact of their own intellectual and cultural environments, and the question of 'truth' versus fiction


2.    Testing the boundaries of history (explored through at least 3 of the following Ancient History topics):

  • Writing history of the ancient world from below, social history and cultural history
  • Writing about people, power, place and race in the Ancient world
  • Gender in histories of the Ancient world
  • History and power: owning and telling the past in society and communities


3.    The historian at work (explored through at least 3 of the following Modern History topics):

  • Archival history
  • Material History: archaeology and material objects
  • Oral history
  • Community engaged history
  • Ethics of historical research
  • Presenting history to popular and scholarly audiences
  • Contested history
  • History in museums


4.    Indigenous historiography in Australia and the world (Modern History topic)

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This 10 credit-point unit is delivered as a face to face class in order to immerse students in Active Learning through activities which allow students to practice and refine skills fundamental to the discipline of history and the work of historians in real world settings. This unit engages students in active learning activities, such as reading, writing, debate and discussion, to promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content. Students use archive and digital history workshops to explore key case-studies from Australian and international settings. 

Students in this unit will be encouraged to develop specific skills in reading and understanding how primary sources are recorded, collected and selected and begin to understand the dynamics of historical and historiographical debate and how to assess secondary material when conducting 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 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/video screenings (where relevant), skills workshops, and assignments etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The historical theory and skills based challenge is designed to lead students through the process of mastering key historical techniques and methodologies, drawing on the knowledge and skills developed through the active learning class activities. As the capstone project requires advanced skills in project design and planning, the capstone proposal requires students to scope and plan their individual project and respond to feedback. The capstone project asks students to apply these techniques and methodologies to their own individual historical project on an approved self-devised topic. This project may, as appropriate to the resources available, include a project which engages with a community group or organisation, and will require students to show that they understand the role of the historian in the process of creating, debating and communicating history. In order to provide students with an opportunity to present a nuanced and sustained historical narrative or argument in dynamic and innovative ways, this project may be submitted in written, oral, multi-media or exhibition formats.  

Formative Learning Task(s)

This unit includes formative learning tasks. These tasks or activities are marked on a pass/fail basis and are required to pass the unit but do not contribute to the final grade. The formative learning activities will provide students with an opportunity to explore key information and skills essential to the discipline which will then be applied to the capstone project. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Formative Learning Task(s)

The purpose of this assessment is to allow students to consolidate the key skills and knowledge required to successfully complete the capstone project.




Historical Theory and Skills-based Challenge(s) 

The purpose of this assignment is to allow students to consolidate their understanding of key information and skills which they will then apply in their capstone project. 


LO1, LO2 

GA5, GA6, GA9

Capstone Project Proposal 

The purpose of this assignment is to provide students with a scaffolded process to scope, plan and pitch their research plan and to receive formal feedback prior to undertaking the initial individual research project. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

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

Capstone Project  

This historiographical project requires students to research and develop an independent project to communicate its findings in written, oral, multi-media or exhibition formats. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

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

Representative texts and references

Curthoys, A. and Docker, J. Is History Fiction? Sydney: UNSW Press, 2005. 

Clark, Anna, Private Lives, Public History, Carlton Victoria: University of Melbourne Press, 2016 

Dougherty, Jack., Jack Nawrotzki, and Nawrotzki, Kristen. Writing History in the Digital Age. Digital Humanities, Ann Arbor, Michigan University Press. 2013. 

Donelly, M. and Norton, C Doing History London; New York: Routledge, 2011. 

Eley, G. A Crooked Line: from cultural history to the history of society. Ann Arbor, Mich: University of Michigan Press, 2005. 

Elmersjö, Henrik Åström, Anna Clark, and Monika Vinterek. International Perspectives on Teaching Rival Histories Pedagogical Responses to Contested Narratives and the History Wars. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. 

Hunt, Lynn. Writing History in the Global Era. New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2015. 

Hughes-Warrington, M.  Fifty Key Thinkers on History. London: Routledge, 2004. 

Potter, C.B. and Romano, R.C. (ed.) Doing Recent History: on privacy, copyright, video games, institutional review boards, activist scholarship, and history that talks back. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 2012. 

Southgate, B. History: What & why, London: Routledge, 2001. 

Thompson, W.  Postmodernism and History. London: Palgrave, 2004. 

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