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Unit outline_

USSC3603: Dissent and Protest in America

Semester 1, 2023 [Normal day] - Remote

This unit surveys the long history of social movements and protest in the US. Beginning with 19th Century movements against slavery, the course charts the way everyday Americans came together to make demands on the state, the economy, and American culture. From abolitionism, students move onto close study of the history of American feminism, Civil Rights, agrarian revolt, the labor movement, antiwar politics, gay liberation, Chicano rights, and grassroots conservatism with an eye toward commonalities and divergences in protest strategy and a close attention to the historical contexts in which various movements arose and their long-term effects on American society. The unit will utilize the insights of the disciplines of history, sociology, political science, anthropology, communication studies, and philosophy in order to build on inter- and multi-disciplinary studies of social movement in the US - one of the main subjects of deep fascination that has engaged the multitude of the humanistic social sciences and encouraged debate between them as well as interdisciplinary cross-fertilization.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit United States Studies Centre
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 2000 level in American Studies or 12 credit points at 2000 level in History
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Deirdre O'Connell,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Research essay
You will write a well-argued essay showing skills of historical analysis.
40% Formal exam period
Due date: 02 Jun 2023 at 23:59
3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Participation Informed tutorial participation
Comments on readings and lecture material
10% Multiple weeks Ongoing
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Online task Tutorial question (TQ1)
Students write well-considered questions that fuel tutorial discussion.
10% Week 04
Due date: 24 Mar 2023 at 23:59
300 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Online task Tutorial question (TQ3)
Students write well-considered questions that fuel tutorial discussion.
10% Week 08
Due date: 28 Apr 2023 at 23:59
300 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Research question/proposal/bibliography
You will set out the research proposal for your essay.
20% Week 08
Due date: 17 Apr 2023 at 23:59
500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Online task Tutorial question (TQ2)
Students write well-considered questions that fuel tutorial discussion.
10% Week 12
Due date: 26 May 2023 at 23:59
300 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

  • Tutorial questions: Students should submit 3 substantive questions based on the reading due that week. They absolutely should not be questions that can be answered 'yes' or 'no' or factually. At least 2 of the 3 questions should be based on direct engagement with the texts of the week's readings.  The third may be more speculative, theoretical, or philosophical but should be inspired nonetheless by engagement with that week's texts. Provided you follow the directions, engage with the texts and ask substantive questions that can be discussed (rather than answered) you will receive a 100% for your questions.
  • Research question/proposal/bibliography and research essay: In preparation for the final paper, students must submit a final paper proposal/bibliography.  The topic of the final paper is open-ended but must engage with the broad themes of the class. For the question/proposal/bibliography you will set out what analytic question you plan to answer in your final paper and why it's siginificant.  You will then outline how you expect to go about answering that question and provide a bibliography of sources you expect to use in so doing. The final paper is then the culmination/execution of this work.
  • Informed tutorial participation: All students must attend tutorial having completed all assigned readings with a readiness to discuss them respectfully in a saminer format. Much of our discussion will be centered around issues and movement that are controversial, to use the parlance of the day, perhaps even 'triggering.' To that end everyone is asked to engage with texts and classmates in good faith and respectfully. Your participation mark is not just about showing up but about engaging with texts and classmates with sophistication and an open mind.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

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.

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 Theories of Change and the American Paradox Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 02 Great Awakenings: Protestantism, Capitalism, Slavery and the Abolition movement. Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 03 A New Post-Civil War Order: Reconstruction and Redemption Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 04 Cheap Labour, Skilled Labour, Organized Labour Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 05 Populism, the Progressive Era and the East/West Divide Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 06 The New Woman The New Negro and 2nd Klan Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 07 Socialism, Fascism and The New Deal Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 08 Salt of the Earth Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 09 Pacifism, Non-Violent Civil Disobedience (and Malcolm X) Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 10 Student Protest, Anti-Vietnam War, Violent Struggle and Self Defence Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 11 Women and Gay Liberation and the New Conservatives Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 12 Indigenous Rights and the Environmental Movement Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 13 Woke and anti-Woke Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: 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. Given the exceptional circumstances of the 2020 pandemic, all coordinators will tend to proceed generously in this matter. The expectation is still that you attend classes (i.e., join live online tutorials through zoom and listen to pre-recorded lectures), but if time zones or lack of technological infrastructure make it too difficult, we can make arrangements for alternative ways of satisfying required attendance.
  • Lectures: Pre-recorded lectures will be available to students on the LMS in segments. 
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

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

The set readings will be on the Canvas website.

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. show a sophisticated and detailed understanding of multidisciplinary approaches to the study of the United States through independent and original research, comparative analysis, and close reading of primary text
  • LO2. demonstrate the ability to analyse independently, ethically, and in-depth an aspect of American culture and life using multidisciplinary methodologies, sources, and intellectual approaches.
  • LO3. relate detailed and analytic understanding of issues and topics in the contemporary and historical United States to issues in the larger world
  • LO4. apply multidisciplinary knowledge of the United States to analytic issues encountered in interdisciplinary contexts
  • LO5. illustrate skills in innovative and responsible research, critical analysis, and the presentation of complex cultural problems in oral, written, digital and group formats.

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.

Some changes to the unit have been made in response to student feedback.


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

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.