Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit

Unit rationale, description and aim

Music making contributes to Australia’s social, cultural and economic well-being. Creating and performing music is an important leisure and professional activity for many Australians and this activity functions to inform issues of cultural identity and belonging. To understand Australia’s musical past, present and future, music students need the skills and knowledge to contextualise, interrogate and research a range of music-making practices in Australia.

The unit introduces key concepts that inform scholarly discourse surrounding Australian music including a study of musical practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and transplanted musical cultures. The unit explores Australian art, community and popular music as well as the institutions that support music making in Australia. Listening, writing and performing are employed as vehicles for analysing and understanding examples of music practice.

The aim of the unit is to assist students to acquire skills in music research, and to develop an appreciation of the diversity of musical expression in Australian culture. 

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 - Demonstrate a critical awareness of music style and practice in Australia. (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10)

LO2 - Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the cultural, political and social contexts underlying music and music-making in Australia (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8)

LO3 - Apply skills in critical analysis of music scores, recordings, primary source material and scholarly readings (GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO4 - Construct evidence-based arguments around the ideas, repertoires, practices and policies that constitute and inform music-making in Australia (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9)

LO5 -Appreciate the diverse world views and music practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Peoples (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10)

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

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:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music and music-making and its role in societies and cultures
  • The interaction between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music and musicians and white Australia, including ethical practice and cultural safety
  • A survey of music and music-making in Australia in the 19th century
  • The development of Australia's musical institutions through the 20th century
  • Transplanted musical cultures in Australia through the lens of different waves of migration
  • The place of music in 21st century Australian society and culture
  • Social and political influences on music education in Australia
  • The exploration of national identity and cross-cultural influences in Australian music
  • Developments in Australian art, folk and popular music, composition and performance

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit is designed to promote understanding of the context and development of music in Australia. The learning and teaching strategy encourages critical and reflective thinking, and assists students to develop values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline of music in the Australian context. Repertoire and scholarly ideas are shared with students in the context of formal lectures (which may be in the form of online lecture vignettes) and students are required to work independently and collaboratively to evaluate research and music practice in context. The exploration of Australian music is organised around relevant historical and social themes, and opportunities for practical performance of Australian music are offered. Where the unit engages with the music of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, student learning will be informed by Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices drawn from community.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Three assessment tasks have been developed to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements.

Assessment one requires students to interpret and comment on music styles, genres and music making in Australia through listening to music examples. Assessment two requires students to express their understanding of music in an Australian context through performance or the construction of an informative program. Assessment three applies the knowledge and skills developed in earlier assessment and requires students to select, research, and critically analyse a topic that relates to an aspect of Australian music and culture.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Listening analysis task

Requires students to demonstrate understanding of Australian music through analysis of musical materials


LO1, LO2, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Presentation: Performance or Program 

Requires students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding through performance or development of a program


LO2, LO3

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8

Research task

Requires students to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of a particular aspect of Australian music and culture


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Brunt, S., & Stahl, G. Eds. Made in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand: Studies in Popular Music. Routledge, 2018.

Dunbar-Hall, Peter, and Chris Gibson. Deadly Sounds, Deadly Places. Sydney: UNSW Press, 2004.

Harris, Amanda, ed. and Reuben Brown. Representing Australian Aboriginal Music and Dance 1930-1970. Bloomsbury, 2020.

Hijleh, Mark. Towards a Global Music History: Intercultural, Convergence, Fusion, and Transformation in the Human Musical Story. London, UK: Routledge, 2018.

Kouvaras, Linda. Loading the Silence: Australian Sound Arts in the Post-Digital Age. Ashgate, 2013.

Reid, Anna, Neal Peres da Costa and Jeannell Carrigan. Creative Research in Music: Informed Practice, Innovation and Transcendence. London, UK: Routledge, 2021.

Richards, Fiona, ed. The Soundscapes of Australia: Music, Place and Spirituality. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007. E-book 2017.

Ryan, Christian, ed. The Best Music Writing under the Australian Sun. Richmond, AU: Hardie Grant books, 2014.

Symons, David. Australia’s Jindyworobak Composers. London, UK: Routledge, 2021.

Wheeler, Belinda, ed. A Companion to Australian Aboriginal Literature. Camden House, 2015.

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