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Unit outline_

HSTY2609: African-American History and Culture

Semester 2, 2022 [Normal day] - Remote

From fashion, food and music to speech patterns and protest methods, African-American culture has had a profound effect both on America and the wider world. In this unit we survey race relations after the end of slavery, focusing on the emergence of black communities across the North and South, the spread of black music, literature and film, the history of the civil rights and black power movements and the role of race in the contemporary America.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit History
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 1000 level in History or 12 credit points at 1000 level in American Studies
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Deirdre O'Connell,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment research proposal and bibliography
Refer to Canvas site for more information.
15% Mid-semester break
Due date: 02 Oct 2022 at 23:59
750-1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO7 LO6 LO4
Skills-based evaluation Take-home exam
Information to be provided once semester gets under way.
35% Please select a valid week from the list below
Due date: 21 Nov 2022 at 23:59
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment research essay
Refer to Canvas site for more information.
40% Week 13
Due date: 06 Nov 2022 at 23:59
2000-2500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO6 LO8
Participation tutorial participation
10% Weekly 1 hour each week
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary


Your tutorial mark will be made up of a combination of attendance, quality of participation, and quantity of participation. To achieve a mark of distinction for tutorials, all of these criteria should be met:

  • Attendance is consistent
  • Verbal contributions demonstrate thorough engagement with the required readings
  • Verbal contributions occur regularly

Verbal contributions are directly relevant to the readings and indicate that you have completed the assigned readings

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:


Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to African American history Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 02 Legacies of Slavery; Reconstruction Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 03 After Reconstruction (1877 onward) Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 04 Everyday Life in the Jim Crow South Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 05 The Great Migration and the Interwar Years Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 06 The Jim Crow North? Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 07 World War II and the Postwar Era Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 08 The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 09 Reading Week - No Lectures and Tutorials Lecture and tutorial (0.1 hr)  
Week 10 History of "Passing" Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 11 Do the Right Thing (Film) Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 12 #EverydayLifeWhileBlack in Contemporary America Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 13 Looking Back at 2020: A Year of Reckoning Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5

Attendance and class requirements

Refer to information on this unit’s Canvas site.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings


This unit surveys African-American history and culture, primarily in the years since the end of slavery. We examine Black life, labor, migration, consumer culture, popular culture, and some of the ways African Americans have resisted racial subjugation, asserted their rights, and built enduring institutions amid racial discrimination, segregation, intimidation, and violence. More broadly, this unit illuminates the history of American race relations and some of the political dimensions of African-American history from 1865 to 2021.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. develop a solid grasp of African-American history from 1865 to the present
  • LO2. demonstrate a basic understanding of race relations in American history as it pertains to African Americans from 1865 to the present
  • LO3. demonstrate critical reading skills of secondary source material
  • LO4. analyse primary sources in relation to other accumulated knowledge
  • LO5. articulate responses to unit readings in the company of other students
  • LO6. search primary and secondary sources in response to a guided research question
  • LO7. write a research essay proposal
  • LO8. complete a research essay using primary source materials.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered

Work, health and safety

Please try to observe COVID-safe protocols and maintain at least a 1.5-meter distance from others in tutorials.


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