Faculty of Arts

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2012
Coordinator(s)Professor Bruce Scates


Previously coded AUS4220


This unit addresses the complex interrelation between human society and the environment. It engages with Indigenous and non-Indigenous ways of seeing, understanding and using the land, probing the relationship between land, belonging and identity over Australia's history. It explores Indigenous land management techniques, the impacts of white settlement, the influence of the Enlightenment, and the rise of urbanisation, probing attitudes towards the environment at each point . It engages with debates including conservation and the environmental movement, Indigenous land rights and climate change. It challenges students to develop their own frameworks for understanding the environment today.


Upon successful completion of this unit students will have gained:

  1. An understanding of the reciprocal ways in which the land has shaped human society, and how people have shaped the land;
  2. An understanding of changing attitudes to the Australian environment from pre-settlement times to the present day;
  3. An understanding of the climatic, cultural and economic forces that help to determine land usage;
  4. A recognition of different ways of understanding and interacting with the landscape, in particular Aboriginal as opposed to non-Indigenous attitudes to land usage;
  5. An understanding of urban, regional and rural environments, and historical conceptions of each of these kinds of environments;
  6. A deeper awareness of the complexities involved in feelings of belonging as it relates to space and place, and how the land affects questions of identity;
  7. A deeper understanding of contemporary political debates about the land and environment, including Indigenous land rights, environmental activism, and climate change mitigation;
  8. An understanding of contemporary debates about development, conservation and sustainability;
  9. A familiarity with the major themes in the field of Australian environmental history.


Seminar participation/presentation: 10%
Essay based on excursion (1500 words): 15%
Minor essay (2500 words): 25%
Long research essay (5000 words): 50%

Contact hours

One 3-hour seminar per week