Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)

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Study a Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation) or the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)/Bachelor of Laws with ACU – exciting courses exploring the intellectual tradition and culture of the West. Scholarships are available.

This is a liberal arts degree that will give ambitious students a broad understanding of Western literature, philosophy, art, politics, religion, science and history, and a deep appreciation of the ways in which these traditions (in dialogue with other cultures) have helped to shape the modern world.

This unique liberal arts degree is centred on a ‘great books’ approach to the study of Western civilisation. You’ll delve into works by Plato and Aristotle; Augustine and Aquinas; Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; Homer and Shakespeare; Locke and Hume; Dickens and Tolstoy – and you will also explore, critique and debate their enduring influence. If you choose to study the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)/Bachelor of Laws double degree, you’ll also immerse yourself in legal studies.

You will develop skills greatly valued by contemporary employers across a range of professions: clear communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and problem-solving – skills that will allow you to navigate the complexities of the modern world, and to make your own contributions to our common future. With the double degree, you’ll also gain the skills to become a confident, ethical lawyer with the legal skills and knowledge to make a real contribution to the legal profession.

Applications are made direct to ACU. Scholarships of up to $150,000 are available.

Scholarships of up to $90,000 are now open for the singular three-year Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation).

Scholarships of up to $150,000 will be available from 2022 for the five-year Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)/Bachelor of Laws.

First round applications for 2022 entry into the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation) will close on 30 November 2021. Final applications will close on 6 January 2022.

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What you will study

Whether you study the single or the double degree, you will explore the past, present and future of Western intellectual life and culture through immersion in some of the key literary, philosophical, artistic, religious, political and scientific works that have shaped the Western intellectual tradition from antiquity to the present.

As you progress through the course, you will develop a deep understanding of the key ideas and principles that have defined – and continue to define – Western culture and which have significantly shaped the wider world.

At a time when the ideas of democracy, the rule of law, the scientific method, freedom of speech and religion, and the rights and dignity of the individual, are being called into question, a liberal arts education will immerse you in the serious study of how these hard-won ideas emerged over millennia.

Course structure

Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)

The Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation) features 14 core units focused on the Western intellectual and cultural traditions, with emphasis on the disciplines of literature, philosophy, history, politics, art and architecture. We are committed to a personal learning approach, and the core units will be delivered in small seminars of around 10 students, allowing in-depth, guided discussion.

You will also undertake an eight-unit major drawn from a selection of existing Bachelor of Arts sequences, including drama, English, history, philosophy, politics and international relations, psychology, sociology, theological studies, or visual arts. Finally, you will undertake a community engagement placement experience, and one general elective.

Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)/Bachelor of Laws

There is also an opportunity to pair the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation) with the Bachelor of Laws. This five-year double degree combines practical and theoretical training in legal knowledge with the study of Western civilisation. You’ll graduate with a deep understanding of legal practice as well as Western literature, philosophy, art, politics, religion, science and history, and how these help us to comprehend our world and the dialogue between cultures.

You’ll gain all the unique benefits of the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisations) – fascinating units, personalised teaching and facilities and community engagement (pro bono) – while also graduating with the skills to enter the legal profession.


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The Ramsay Centre is funding 30 generous scholarships valued at up to $150,000 to support students enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation) or Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)/Bachelor of Laws at the North Sydney Campus.

The scholarships are $30,000 per year of the degree up to $90,000 for the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation) and up to $150,000 for the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)/Bachelor of Laws. It includes funding for an optional international study experience, and an early payment to help offset start-up costs such as relocation and accommodation.

Scholarships are granted based on academic merit and alignment with Ramsay attributes, such as leadership qualities, commitment to enrichment of society, and critical habit of mind, and ACU’s mission and focus, such as commitment to the dignity of the human person and the common good.

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ACU living and learning communities

While this course is offered at our North Sydney Campus, we encourage applications from all across Australia. With the support of one of the Ramsay Centre’s generous scholarships, you may wish to consider staying at our student accommodation in Sydney, the Miguel Cordero Residence (MCR).

ACU living and learning community students enjoying student accommodation in Sydney.

Miguel Cordero Residence (MCR)

MCR is located in Camperdown in Sydney’s inner west – the vibrant cultural hub of the city.

Frequently asked questions

We’ve rounded up some common FAQs for the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation). 

Course FAQs

Scholarship FAQs

Learning outcomes

On completion of the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation) you will be able to:

  • Articulate a broad and coherent knowledge of the great works of the Western canon and a selected humanities, arts or social science discipline.
  • Explain the literary, social, historical, philosophical, political, aesthetic, scientific, religious and ethical ideas and movements in texts drawn from, and related to, the Western intellectual tradition.
  • Evaluate knowledge from diverse sources and communicate complex ideas and findings with sophistication and confidence to a range of audiences.
  • Apply disciplinary knowledge and skills to understand complex, real-world issues, informed by Western and other traditions, including the rich perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Apply disciplinary knowledge and skills to formulate intellectually grounded, evidence-based judgments about history and the modern world.

Career outcomes

The Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation) provides you with rigorous training in a range of skills that are immediately transferable to the contemporary workforce. Career outcomes are diverse and include research and policy work for government and NGOs, publishing and editing, work with arts and cultural organisations, and careers as university scholars.

By pairing the degree with a Bachelor of Laws you will also be able to pursue a career as a solicitor or barrister in private practice, as in-house counsel for corporations or with government, non-government and trade organisations.

How to apply

Applications should be made direct to ACU.

Apply for the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)

Apply for the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)/Bachelor of Laws

For more information

If you have a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search the FAQs, text us, live chat or call one of our friendly AskACU staff – whatever works for you.

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Staff profile

Professor Robert Carver

Director, Western Civilisation Program

Professor Robert Carver’s main teaching and research interests lie in Renaissance literature, Renaissance humanism, the influence of classical texts and ideas on Western culture, and the origins and development of the novel – from ancient prose fiction to contemporary Australian writing.

Professor Carver graduated from the Australian National University with a University Medal in English and Latin. He won a Commonwealth Scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was awarded his doctorate (DPhil) in 1992. Following stints at Trinity College, Oxford, and the British Academy, he taught at Oriel College, Oxford, before moving to the University of Durham in 1997. At Durham, he served as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Associate Professor of Renaissance Literature in the Department of English Studies, taking on the role of Deputy Head of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities between 2007 and 2010.

His publications include an Oxford Classical Monograph, The Protean Ass: The Metamorphoses of Apuleius from Antiquity to the Renaissance (OUP, 2007), translations from the Latin writings of the twelfth-century mystic Hildegard of Bingen, and numerous scholarly articles on ancient, medieval, and Renaissance literature.

Student profile

Emily Nix

Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)

"I was inspired to study the Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation) because I wanted the ability to study multiple disciplines at once, including history, philosophy and political science. I also love the emphasis ACU has on small class sizes and how this allows students to develop closer relationships with academic staff."

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