Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


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

Teaching organisation

3 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent of on-campus lectures and tutorials, with the possibility of online discussions, museum assignments and film screenings.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Latin America is home to almost 10 per cent of the world's population, and the region has a distinct history that is important for well-rounded historians to understand. As a region with growing trade and cultural ties with Australia, having a comprehension of the big themes of Latin American history, and the tools historians use to research that history, will better equip graduates to understand global challenges today.

This unit traces themes in Latin American history since the Spanish and Portuguese conquests. Through the use of case studies, the unit will explore historical issues of poverty, gender and racial inequalities, revolution, economic dependency, and external interference in Latin America. Much of the content of the unit will focus on issues confronting Latin America during the twentieth century.

The aim of this unit is to provide students with a clear understanding of how the legacies of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism have continued to affect the region to the present day.

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 Latin American history and an awareness of historical debates surrounding it (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 primary and secondary materials relevant to Latin American history to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argument (GA3, GA8, GA10)

LO4 - Apply critical reading skills to your understanding of Latin American history and the methods that historians have used to research it (GA4, GA5)

LO5 - Interpret and reflect on key historical debates relating to real-world situations/case studies in Latin America 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

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:  

  • The impact of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism 
  • Slavery 
  • Indigenous rights 
  • Gender and sexual minorities 
  • Socio-economic inequality 
  • Populism 
  • Revolution 
  • The US and Latin America 
  • Political economy 
  • Human rights 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Mode: On campus one 2hr lecture and one 1hr tutorial or equivalent, with the possibility of online discussions, museum assignments and film screenings. 

Duration: This unit is delivered as a face to face class in order to immerse students in active learning through activities which facilitate the development of skills fundamental to the discipline of history and deep understanding of course content. Active learning activities may include collaborative reading, writing, discussion, role play and problem-solving to promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content. The different topics are structured around case studies so that students can learn the ways broad themes in Latin American history applied in particular places and times, and to teach students to think about how localised examples link to broader historical trends. 

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

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/archaeological evidence, textual and visual analysis, etc. 
  • Research essay/challenge  
  • Book review 
  • In-class debates or team challenges 
  • Forums/blogs/online discussion 
  • Short answer responses 
  • Short quizzes/in-class tests 

Tutorial-based assignments/presentations. Overall, the assessment in this unit encourages students to: develop specific skills in locating, reading and analysing sources; consider different approaches to the past and the dynamics of historical and historiographical debate; and employ active research techniques into their own research and analysis. This unit introduces students to strategies that will help them to: (a) understand and interpret the history of a particular country (or countries); (b) take a thematic approach to the study of the past. 

The Knowledge Development Task asks students to demonstrate a knowledge of course content by discussing historical facts and theories in response to set questions. The Research Task extends on this, asking students to independently research a topic relevant to the subject matter to develop an evidence-based narrative or argument drawing on high-quality primary and secondary sources. The Summative Task requires students to critically reflect on the content and skills developed within the unit to demonstrate an overarching understanding of key themes of the course and trhe legacies of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism in the present day. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Knowledge Development Task: The purpose of this task is for students to develop critical reading and listening comprehension skills to identify key content and ideas from lectures and set readings. 


LO1, LO2

GA5, GA6, GA9

Research Task: This task is designed for students to locate and reference primary and secondary sources, applying them to construct and prove an evidence-based written or oral argument (as designated by the lecturer) on a particular research topic. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Summative Task: This assessment is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their theoretical and factual knowledge of Latin American history.  

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. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Burns, E. Bradford and Julie A. Chalip (eds). Latin America: A Concise Interpretive History. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2010. 

Chasteen, John Charles. Americanos: Latin America’s Struggle for Independence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 

Chasteen, John Charles. Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. 3rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. 

Chomsky, Aviva, Barry Carr and Pamela Maria Smorkaloff (eds). The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003. 

Guillermoprieto, Alma. Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America. New York: Pantheon Books, 2001. 

Joseph, Gilbert M. and Timothy J. Henderson (eds). The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002. 

Levine, Robert M. and John J. Crocitti (eds). The Brazil Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999. 

Skidmore, Thomas E., Peter H. Smith and James N. Green. Modern Latin America. 7th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 

Vanden, Harry E. and Gary Prevost. Politics of Latin America: The Power Game. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 

Wade, Peter. Race and Ethnicity in Latin America. 2nd ed. London; New York: Pluto Press, 2009. 

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