Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

There are many types of violence. These are pervasive and ubiquitous phenomena that characterise a lot of criminal behaviour. Students' knowledge and conceptual understanding of them is therefore important within employment contexts that interface with criminal behaviours.

In this unit students will begin by charting the historical development of violence as phenomena, and as a concept. To do this the unit helps students to identify what violence is, to describe it, and then to consider it more analytically and theoretically in its many adjectival forms. Based on this foundation, students will then consider violence through the lenses of gendered violence, family violence, criminal violence and hate speech.

The aim of the unit is to arm students with a wider and deeper appreciation of the many different forms that violence can take through history and within contemporary society.

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 - Recognise and describe the many different varieties of violence (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9)

LO2 - Explain how law and policy seeks to allow, disallow and regulate violence (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Apply knowledge and understanding of family violence regulation (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9)

Graduate attributes

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 


Topics will include:

  • What is violence?
  • Why do people behave violently? Biological and psychological explanations
  • Why do people behave violently? Criminological and sociological explanations
  • Collective violence
  • Young people and violence
  • Gender and violence
  • Intimate partner & family violence
  • Responses to family violence
  • Technology-assisted violence
  • Hate crime
  • Violence prevention

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit comprises 150 hours of study in total. It will be taught over a 12 week semester, with one 2-hour lecture followed by a 1-hour tutorial each week or ACU Online 10 week asynchronous delivery mode. Other study components might include on-line webinars, podcasts, readings, discussion forums etc. The balance of the hours is comprised of self-directed study.

 The strategy is to encourage students to actively engage with unit content and their peers; to provide a clear link between lecture content and tutorial practicum to develop an authentic understanding (of principles and theory) that (in combination with learning from other units) bridges the gap between theory and practice. Thus, the learning and teaching strategy extends from within this unit, to integrate with other units in the course. Within an integrated learning framework, lectures will provide core content relating to the topics identified above and begin a process of active, engaged, exploration, which will be deepened by detailed explanation and further investigation in tutorials. Through direct interaction between students and teachers, students active, engaged exploration of the foundational knowledge they acquire supports its assimilation in the form of comprehension of concepts and theory. Students are then encouraged to test that evolving understanding by applying it to factual situations, to produce solutions supported by legal authorities and arguments; and to reflect on their learning. Each component is intended to build on knowledge, understanding and skills to progressively scaffold student learning.

The online learning platform used in this unit provides multiple preparatory and practice opportunities to guide in-class and out-of-class study. Online learning assistance in the form of learning resources, notices, assessment information (including online submission, marking and return of results/feedback), is student focused, affording greater accessibility and flexibility to the learning experience.

ACU Online 

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment in this unit comprises three assessment tasks that are designed to scaffold learning, as well as to determine learning outcomes.

 The first task aligns with the first learning outcome. It aims to determine students’ knowledge of the prevalence and varieties of violence in Australia.

 The second assessment task aligns primarily with the second learning outcome. It supports students' development of understanding of the relationship between law, policy and violence. The proposed task involves the preparation of an “issue summary” having regard to a problem statement provided with respect to media representations of violence. To do this requires critical evaluation of the regulation of that violence, therefore involving development and use of an understanding of fundamental concepts and theories of violence.

 Finally, students will be required to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of family violence regulation in their jurisdiction. It is proposed that this be done by asking them to write an essay that, among other things, details the legal and regulatory processes governing family violence in their jurisdiction. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Multiple choice online quiz: Requires students to demonstrate their understanding of key concepts and ideas



GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Issue summary: Students are required to prepare a 1,200 word response to a given issue. This question is designed to allow students to demonstrate their developing skills in locating, referencing, and analysing research materials.


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Essay: Students are required to prepare a 1,500 word paper on a designated topic covering a specific type of violence


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Alexander R, Family Violence in Australia, 3rd edition, 2018.

Zahn M et al, Violence: From Theory to Research, 2016.

Ferracuti F & Wolfgang M, The Subculture of Violence: Towards an Integrated Theory in Criminology, 2010.

Ray L, Violence and Society, 2nd edition, 2018.

Teasedale B, Bradley M, eds., Preventing Crime and Violence, 2017.

Van Hasselt V, Bourke M, eds., Handbook of Behavioral Criminology, 2017.

Raine A, The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime, 2014.

Ellis A, Men, Masculinities and Violence: An Ethnographic Study (Routledge Studies in Crime and Society Book 19), 2015.

Meyer S & Frost A, Domestic and Family Violence :A Critical Introduction to Knowledge and Practice, 2019.

Howe A, Sex, Violence & Crime: Foucault and the 'Man' Question, 2008.    

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