Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Controversies over fact and information are found every day in contemporary societies. From government reports and university research, to TikTok, newsfeeds, or ‘fake news’, information is everywhere; some of it based on evidence, some contested, and some patently fake. At the same time, some important information is not shared widely. While social media commentators appear to produce thought bubbles distributed through algorithms, critics argue that simplistic online campaigns and arguments contribute to hardening of ideologies and further a more polarised society. In this context, the ability to ask incisive questions is a vital tool. 

In this unit you will learn skills necessary to navigate controversy, develop good interviewing and research techniques, and engage critically and productively with the wider world. The unit will investigate different kinds of evidence and assist you to analyse the power dynamics that produce and validate them.

The aim of the unit is to explore different kinds of questions and the best ways to frame and use them: both to evaluate evidence and differentiate reality from misconception and disinformation, and to create opportunities to inquire, listen and learn. 

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 - Locate and interpret key sources of theoretical and empirical information and knowledge across a variety of disciplinary contexts (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sources) (GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO2 - Articulate an informed perspective on a controversy, demonstrating the value of research and using evidence to back up your point of view (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Use productive questioning techniques informed by key principles and methods from the arts, humanities and/or social sciences (GA3, GA5, GA9)

LO4 - Communicate findings through the presentation of a coherent argument, in written, verbal or other form (GA9)

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 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics and content may include (but are not limited to) the following themes, issues and questions in the arts, humanities, and social sciences:

  • Infamous scandals over truth, lies or imposture
  • Explorations of evidence, misinformation and deceit
  • What is a fact, and who produced the evidence behind it?
  • Situations when there’s not ‘one truth’ or truth is contested or mis-remembered.
  • Moral panic or social hysteria: when people believe something to be true when it is not, or because its importance has been disproportionally exaggerated.
  • Investigating the use of propaganda and censorship
  • Controversies over technology eg deepfakes and artificial intelligence,
  • Interrogation techniques: their ethics and effectiveness
  • Different kinds of questions, and how to frame them
  • How does cultural and other prejudice shape what individuals and societies accept to be true?
  • How do power relations influence key societal questions?

Skills developed in this unit include: 

  • Inquiry skills in arts, humanities and social science disciplines
  • Recognising and incorporating Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and global Indigenous perspectives to enhance the scope and quality of inquiry.
  • Creating a habit of asking the right questions about sources of information
  • Asking questions to elicit credible and authentic information
  • Finding of online sources of information
  • Identifying fallacies of logic
  • Examining resources for news and media literacy
  • Acquiring information literacy
  • Oral interviewing and the ethics of good interviews
  • Real-life examples of interviews, and how to conduct one.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit embraces active learning (including collaborative learning). It will be delivered in face-to-face mode with some online components where appropriate. It is structured around a series of learning activities and formal assessments through which first-year students will develop foundational skills for undertaking effective investigation, critical analysis, evaluation and communication across the arts, humanities and social sciences.

The unit is designed around three key areas. Together, they will scaffold the development of the unit’s foundational skills, drawing on insights, theories and approaches from across disciplines. First, we will focus on building strategies for locating, interpreting and interrogating key sources of information and knowledge across a variety of disciplinary contexts. Second, the unit introduces students to a range of approaches to critically examining key sources of information in the arts, humanities and social sciences; for asking productive and targeted questions; and for detecting the relative strengths and weaknesses of particular forms of data and evidence. The final aspect of the unit will foster students’ ability to articulate and communicate their findings for academic and other audiences. They will do this by sharpening and extending their ability to articulate a coherent and engaging argument, whether in writing or through audio, video or digital communication.

This 10-credit point 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 benefit from engaging 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.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Three different assessments will allow students to meet this unit’s learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with ACU assessment requirements. The first assessment provides the foundation for the rest. It will assist us to clarify our thinking; consider purpose and context; question our sources of information; identify arguments; analyse sources and arguments; evaluate the arguments of others and create or synthesise our own arguments. Although this might seem like a lot of steps, critical thinking skills and attributes are interconnected and need to work together for critical thinking to be effective. This small project will engage us in these processes.

The hands-on skills development activities assessment includes a series of tasks such as written submissions, in-class activities, or online tests that examine questions and how they are applied in a variety of arts, humanities and social science disciplines and/or in workplaces.

The investigative task requires students to investigate and ask questions of a specific type of evidence or source. This could be a material object, place, specific text or other information source (e.g. artwork, map, music work) in an area of interest in the arts, humanities or social sciences. In some offerings of the unit, the lecturer may require students to undertake an interview on a particular topic*. Students are required to select a topic they are curious to explore from the list provided by the lecturer, investigate the sources that might assist their enquiry and plan their research. Then, students will undertake their research and present their question and findings in written or digital form.  

*Note: Interviews conducted by students require taught ethics training and clearance.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: ANALYTICAL TASK

This assessment requires you to explore and explain competing aspects of one of the hotly debated areas covered in the unit.

The purpose of the task is to assist you to clarify your thinking; consider purpose and context; question your sources of information; identify arguments; analyse sources and arguments; and evaluate the arguments of others.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9


The purpose of this task is to provide structured activities that will allow you to work with your cohort, to examine the application of questions about information sources in a variety of arts, humanities and social science disciplines and society and in workplaces. The in-class activities and tasks will develop skills in asking questions, ethical guidelines, debating, questioning media and online sources, locating relevant sources or other foundational skills. While activities may be undertaken together with other students, your assessment will be completed and marked individually.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9


The purpose of this assessment is to investigate and ask questions of specific types of evidence or sources and present the research on the sources in written essay form, digital format or in-class written response as designated by the lecturer. The source could be an interview* (if required by the lecturer); a material object; specific text or other approved item in an area of interest in the arts, humanities or social sciences.

 *Note: interviews conducted by students require taught ethics clearance.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Blackford, Russell. The Tyranny of Opinion: Conformity and Future of Liberalism, Bloomsbury, 2019.

Browne, M. Neil, and Stuart M. Keeley. Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking. Pearson, 2015.

Carr, E.H. ‘The Historian and His Facts’ in Carr, Edward Hallett, and Richard J. Evans. What Is History? Basingstoke, England: Palgrave, 2001.

De Young, Mary. “The Day Care Ritual Abuse Moral Panic: A Sociological Analysis.” Sociology Compass 2, no. 6 (2008): 1719–1733.

Farkas, Johan, and Jannick Schou. Post-truth, Fake News and Democracy: Mapping the Politics of Falsehood. Routledge. 2019.

Gaskell, Ivan, and Sarah Anne Carter. The Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture. Edited by Ivan Gaskell and Sarah Anne Carter. Oxford University Press, 2020.

Giusti, Serena, and Elisa Piras. Democracy and Fake News: Information Manipulation and Post-Truth Politics. London: Routledge, 2021.

Haber, J. Critical Thinking, Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press, 2020.

Christopher Schaberg, The Work of Literature in an Age of Post-Truth, Bloomsbury Academic, 2018.

Young, Kevin: Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News. Greywolf Press, 2017.

Web resources

Verification Handbook |

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