Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Challenging and nurturing high-achieving students in the humanities is a key strategy for ensuring the production of excellent scholars and researchers of the future. Shaping Humanity: Ideas, Power and Scholarship is a dynamic unit for students who excelled in the first year of their Arts degree. It provides students with the opportunity to join a select group of peers and academic experts in exploring some of the most significant contemporary questions in the social sciences and humanities. Each week, students will focus on a question having a seismic impact on the world of ideas. They will consider the different ways in which scholars and thinkers from the Humanities, Social Sciences and Creative Arts disciplines are trying to answer these questions; the sorts of research methods they are using to do so; and the major works written about them. The aim of this unit is to prepare motivated students for the next stage of their academic journey in their final year and beyond. 

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 - Identify, discuss and reflect on major questions, and their ethical implications, currently being posed in the humanities, creative arts and social sciences (GA4, GA5)

LO2 - Demonstrate and appraise the value of key research methods in the humanities, creative arts and social sciences, including locating, evaluating and appropriately referencing relevant scholarship (GA4, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Understand and evaluate the ideas of major figures in the humanities, creative arts and social sciences, paying attention to how they apply to real-world settings (GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO4 - Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audience (GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

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:  

  • Exploration of major questions currently being raised by figures in the humanities, creative arts and social sciences in different parts of the world.
  • Context and background of major thinkers and the debates they have stimulated.
  • Identification of research methods used by figures in the humanities, creative arts and social sciences, and of ways to assess their value.
  • The ways in which academic debate/conversation and ideas lead to change.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is delivered online and will immerse students in active learning in which students engage in activities such as reading, writing, discussion, peer feedback and peer-led team learning. Lectures will be delivered online, and students will participate in facilitated group discussions across all campuses thus ensuring students gain a deep understanding of content knowledge.

The unit also engages students in inquiry-based learning, a research-based strategy that actively involves students in the exploration of the content, issues and questions covered in the unit.

Students in this unit will be encouraged to develop specifics skills in applying a range of theories and concepts in the humanities to their own research agendas and, indeed, their way of understanding the world. 

Mode/Attendance Pattern: This unit will include seminars, tutorials, web-enhanced learning and independent study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This 200-level interdisciplinary unit for high achieving students is designed to include assessment tasks that build deep content knowledge, independent learning, and higher-order research and analytic skills.

The analytic tasks require students to demonstrate knowledge of cutting-edge theories and concepts in the humanities. These tasks will be enhanced through collaborative peer-led learning in the tutorial context

The research task builds on these skills through proposing, planning and executing a guided research project that locates critical resources to produce a sustained argument that reflects on the most urgent questions in the contemporary humanities 


Assessment procedures may vary from time to time for this unit, but are likely to include a combination of presentations and written work aimed at fulfilling the key assessment tasks.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Analytical Tasks (50%) 

Students will demonstrate an understanding, and informed opinion on the merits of key methods used in the humanities, creative arts and social sciences.  

Students will illustrate and evaluate the ideas of major thinkers in the humanities, creative arts and/or social sciences in response to enduring questions about the human condition.


LO2, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Written Task (50%) 

Students will research and write a substantive essay that critically addresses and elaborates upon one of the key issues of interest within the humanities, creative arts and/or social sciences.


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Crenshaw, Kimberle et al. (eds) Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement (New York: The New Press, 1996)

Diamond, Jared, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (New York: Penguin, 2005)

Emmett, Robert S. & Nye, David E. The Environmental Humanities: A Critical Introduction (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2016)

Eagleton-Pierce, Matthew. Neoliberalism (London: Routledge, 2016)

Felski, Rita & Anker, Elizabeth (eds). Critique and Post-Critique( Duke University Press, 2017)

Jagose, Anne-Marie, Queer Theory: An Introduction (New York: NYU Press, 1997)

Malik, Kenan, Multiculturalism and its Discontents (Seagull Books, 2014)

McKnight, David. Populism Now (Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, 2018)

Piketty, Thomas, Capital in the 21st Century (Cambridge MA: Harvard University, 2013)

Smith, Philip & Alexander Riley. Cultural Theory: An Introduction (New Jersey: Wiley Blackwell, 2008).

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