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Unit of study_

HSTY3805: Australian History

Semester 2, 2023 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Australian history starts with the ground beneath our feet. With a thematic focus on gender, class, politics, foreign relations, or Indigenous and settler experiences of colonialism and environment, this advanced seminar equips you with skills to access a rich range of archival sources and material culture that will transform your historical understanding of Australian society.

Unit details and rules

Unit code HSTY3805
Academic unit History
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 2000 level in History
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator James Findlay,
Lecturer(s) James Findlay,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Major Research Essay
Final Research Essay.
60% Formal exam period
Due date: 13 Nov 2023 at 23:59
4000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Participation Participation
Reflects your contribution to the weekly discussion in class and online.
10% Ongoing ongoing
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO7 LO6 LO4
Assignment Short Paper
Short paper in response to question.
15% Week 05
Due date: 30 Aug 2023 at 23:59
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO3 LO2
Assignment Essay Draft
Essay draft for research essay.
15% Week 08
Due date: 22 Sep 2023 at 23:59
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

  • 1000 word short paper
  • 1000 word essay draft
  • 4000 word essay
  • Participation

Assessment criteria

Result name

Mark Range




Work that is outstanding for the student’s present level of enrolment and shows potential for distinguished performance at higher levels



Work that shows proficiency in the discipline of History



Work of significant promise, showing potential for further development



 Work of a satisfactory standard.



Work that is not of an acceptable standard.

Please refer to the 2021 History Department Handbook for further details.

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:

In accordance with University Policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:00 pm 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.

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 Week 1: "To see the past" an introduction to the fields of Australian history and historical films studies. Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 02 Week 2: Cinema and the Convict Stain. What role has screen culture played in celebrating and complicating the memory of those criminals transported to Australia? Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 03 Week 3: ANZAC and a National Cinema. This week we explore what makes a "national cinema" and does this framework help us to understand the war film in an Australian context? Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 04 Week 4: Settler Cinema. This week we explore how the particularities of Australian settler colonialism intersect with 'the pioneer legend' on screen. Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 05 Week 5: Memory and the Revival. This week we discuss the concept of 'Prosthetic Memory' in relation to the Australian film "Revival". Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 06 Week 6: Gender and the Historical Landscape. This week we assess second wave feminism's impact on the representation of gender and the Australian historical landscape in 'Revival' cinema. Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 07 Week 7: History, Documentary and Controversy. This week we explore Australian history in the documentary form. Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 08 Week 8: Immigration and Nostalgia. This week we explore the political implications of nostalgia when imagining migrant narratives on screen. Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 09 Week 9: Reading Week - NO CLASS Seminar (2 hr)  
Week 10 Week 10: Kelly, Masculinity and Social Banditry. This week we explore how contemporary politics of masculinity merge with more traditional aspects of the Ned Kelly legend. Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 11 Week 11: Reality Television as History. Are so called 'living histories' merely spin offs of Big Brother or is there more to their recreations of the past and how do we make sense of them as historical texts in Australia? Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 12 Week 12: Aboriginality on Screen. This week we explore the politics of representation in relation to Aboriginal Australians and their histories. Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 13 Week: 13 Postcolonial Visions. In our final week we consider new directions in Australian historical cinema. Can films decolonise the past on screen? And where should scholars of historical films studies turn to next? Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8

Attendance and class requirements

This class will be conducted as a weekly 2 hour seminar - both hours are compulsory. You will be required to do the set reading and annotation exercise for each week as well as watching the weekly film/TV program. Please come to class prepared to engage in discussions with your peers.

According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.

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

Up to date readings (and films) list is available on the Reading List and Modules in Canvas.



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. Demonstrate expert knowledge of period, place or culture in Australian history.
  • LO2. Demonstrate expert understanding of a variety of approaches to interpreting Australian history, and skilfully employ and manipulate such approaches in their own work.
  • LO3. Skilfully analyse and interpret both primary evidence (textual and non-textual) and secondary literature.
  • LO4. Work both independently and collaboratively to develop and refine historical understanding and awareness.
  • LO5. Apply interdisciplinary approaches to the study of history.
  • LO6. Demonstrate an understanding of the cultural, political and social importance of film and television in Australia and its place in shaping a public knowledge of Australia's past.
  • LO7. Demonstrate the skills needed to construct an evidence-based argument or narrative in written, oral, visual, or digital form.
  • LO8. Demonstrate sophisticated information and digital literacy in research.

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.

Adjustments have been made to readings and timing of assessments.

Please note: Students must attempt every assessment in order to pass this unit. 


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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