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


HIST219 - Modern South East Asia

Unit rationale, description and aim

Asia is a diverse and dynamic region, and being able to place the people, cultures and politics of Asia in an historical perspective is an important part of being an informed global citizen. By introducing students to the long and rich histories of this region, this unit provides key contexts for explaining the nature and diversity of modern Asian nations. The unit begins by considering the Asian world before the ages of empires and colonialism, then examines the impact of centuries of imperialism in the region. The unit concludes with a study of the post-colonial era, asking why some Asian nations have been able to emerge as world powers, while others remain amongst the most disadvantaged in the world.The unit encourages students to think critically about the results of colonisation, in terms of cultural impact and long-term influence and develops these concepts through selected case studies. The aim of the unit is to familiarise students with histories of cultural, social, economic and political change in Asia, contemporary debates about Asian history, and the significance of these for understanding the place of Asia in the contemporary world.

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 Asian 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 the history of Asia to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argument (GA3, GA8, GA10)

LO4 - Apply critical reading skills to your understanding of the history of Asia 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 Asian history 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.


This unit will explore the following themes and issues:  

  • The early Asian world and connections with other regions 
  • The impact of empires, imperialism and colonialism 
  • Trade and migration  
  • War, politics and human rights 
  • Indigenous peoples and self-determination 
  • Historical and contemporary representations of gender, religion and culture 
  • Australia’s changing relationship with Asia 
  • The ‘Asian Century’; 

And apply them to one or more of the following case studies: 

  • Southeast Asia 
  • Asia-Pacific and Australasia 
  • Eurasia 
  • China 
  • East Asia 
  • Central Asia. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This is a 10-credit point unit and 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.  

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 and tutorials or workshops, supported by webinars, podcasts or online materials when appropriate. The balance of the hours then becomes private study to prepare for class activities and complete set readings and assignments for this unit. 

Students will develop an understanding of the content of the unit introducing them to the histories, cultures, politics, and economics of Asia, beginning with the Asian world before the ages of empires and colonialism through to the post-colonial era. Interactive learning seminars will introduce key themes of the unit and will enable relevant cultural and historical texts of Asian nations to be understood, analysed and interpreted. In addition to working with written texts, the unit emphasises the importance of hearing the voices of Asian people themselves, many of whom have been marginalised within the texts produced by Western scholars about the East. The use of documentaries, seminal films and, where available, appropriate guest lecturers will enhance student learning of the histories of cultural, social, economic and political change in Asia, contemporary debates about Asian history, and the significance of these for understanding the place of Asia in the contemporary world. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment has been designed for cumulative learning and will enable students to develop their knowledge of the histories, cultures, politics, and economics of Asia, beginning with the Asian world before the ages of empires and colonialism through to the post-colonial era.  

Assessment 1 Investigative/Reflective Task enables students to explore and develop foundational understandings of key concepts of Asian nations including the themes of history, culture, politics and economics.  

Students will have an opportunity to further develop understanding of these themes and apply their knowledge to a particular nation or issue with the completion of Assessment 2 Research task

Assessment 3 Summative task will enable students to consolidate their learning and to demonstrate a critical analyse and interpretation of a theme and/or event from the ages of empires and colonialism through to the post-colonial era. 

Students in this unit will be encouraged 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. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Investigative/reflective task: The purpose of this task is to develop students’ knowledge of key historical concepts and ideas of Asian nations  


LO1, LO2

GA5, GA6, GA9

Research task:   The purpose of this task is to develop students’ ability to formulate and research an independent research task, based on the analysis of specific historical cultural, political, or economic of Asia


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

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

Summative task: This task is designed to provide students with the opportunity to apply key historical ideas and concepts to the study of specific nations within Asia, and to utilise a range of relevant source materials to draw conclusions as to the themes and events which have impacted people from the ages of empires and colonialism through to the post-colonial era. 

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

Cohen, W. East Asia at the Centre: Four Thousand Years of Engagement with the World. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. 

Dutton, George E. (ed). Voices of Southeast Asia: Essential Readings from Antiquity to the Present. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2014. 

Ganter, R., and Martinez, J. Mixed Relations: Asian-Aboriginal Contact in North Australia. Perth: UWA Press, 2006. 

Ferguson, N. Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World. London: Penguin, 2007. 

Hobson, J. A. The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 

Masselos, J. The Great Empires of Asia. Oakland: University of California Press, 2010. 

Mishra, P. From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia. London: Allen Lane, 2012. 

Osbourne, Milton. Southeast Asia: An introductory History. 11th ed. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 2013. 

Ricklefs, M.C. (ed). A New History of Southeast Asia. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 

Walker, D., and Sobocinska, A. Australia’s Asia: From Yellow Peril to the Asian Century. Perth: UWA Publishing, 2012.

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