Australian Indigenous Studies is a value-driven program guided by the principles of interdisciplinary knowledge, intellectual exchange, and social relevance. It offers you a range of perspectives on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culture, with subjects reflecting the rich diversity of the field.

Themes include Indigenous cultural production, key thinkers and concepts, settler and Indigenous environmental ethics, Aboriginal women and coloniality, Indigenous health, and issues relating to land, law and philosophy.


  • Community development
  • Government
  • Policy
  • Social welfare

Subjects you could take in this major

  • This subject will provide students with an introduction to the complexity, challenges and richness of Australian Indigenous life and cultures. Drawing on a wide range of diverse and dynamic guest lecturers, this subject gives students an opportunity to encounter Australian Indigenous knowledges, histories and experiences through interdisciplinary perspectives. Across three thematic blocks - Indigenous Knowledges, Social and Political Contexts and Representation/Self-Representation - this subject engages contemporary cultural and intellectual debate. Social and political contexts will be considered through engagement with specific issues and a focus on Indigenous cultural forms, which may include literature, music, fine arts, museum exhibitions and performance, will allow students to consider self-representation as a means by which to disrupt and expand perceptions of Aboriginality.

  • Aboriginal Land, Law and Philosophy will provide students who have completed the first year introductory MULT10001 Aboriginalities subject with a more detailed and complex understanding of some of the key themes in this study area. It will utilise the physical, symbolic and metaphysical role of land and country in Australian Indigenous society as a starting point for the consideration of critical issues in Indigenous and Settler relations in contemporary Australia. Aboriginal Land, Law and Philosophy will enable the development of a deep and nuanced engagement with a selection of major issues. These may include land tenure, crime and punishment, political representation, social policy, cultural production, governance and economics. Using land and country as a base, these issues will be explored from Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives and from the interdsciplinary perspective of Literary Studies, Philosophy and Law. The interdisciplinary fusion of Literary Studies with Philosophy and Law will create a divergent interrogation of how land, possession and dispossession has influenced materially, legally and theoretically the experience of Indigenous Australians.

  • Aboriginal Women and Coloniality is a multidisciplinary subject looking at the various roles Aboriginal women have played in Aboriginal and Settler society. It examines stereotypical representations of Aboriginal women in colonial art and culture, the depiction of Aboriginal women in literature, cinema and fine arts, the role Aboriginal women have played in the economy as workers, as well as their roles as nurturers and carers, activists and community leaders. Theories and approaches from gender and post-colonial studies and new historicism will be utilised to provide the intellectual framework for this subject. The subject will conclude with consideration of the critique that female Aboriginal artists and writers have made of these representations, and the forms of self-representation produced in their work.

  • This subject considers progressive developments that are being generated through Indigenous and non-Indigenous dialogue and intersections in the context of Australian environmental thought. Students will critique and reconsider aspects of dominant Western ways of knowing and understanding, particularly deep-rooted assumptions surrounding the 'nonhuman'. Students will gain awareness of how these assumptions shape our lives and relationships with the world, and will examine connections between epistemology, life practices and environmental ethics. Through a study of Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous environmental thinkers, and drawing from Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships with the land, students will think about ethical, social and political issues in relation to the ecology.

  • This subject will introduce students to key thinkers and concepts in Aboriginal governance, community and cultural activism, Aboriginal advancement, self-determination and social justice. Key Thinkers and Concepts will allow students who have completed the first year MULT10001 Aboriginalities to form a deeper and more profound understanding of the field of contemporary Australian Indigenous Studies. Intellectuals whose ideas may be studied include anthropologists WEH Stanner, Eric Michaels, Cultural Studies theorist Steven Muecke, Cultural Nationalists, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Kevin Gilbert and Mudrooroo, Reconciliation and Social Justice thinkers Patrick and Mick Dodson, conservative thinkers Warren Mundine and Noel Pearson, and novelist and legal theorist Larissa Behrendt.

  • This subject develops an appreciation of the role of language in Aboriginal Australia, traditionally and today. On completion of the subject, students should have a general knowledge of the linguistic features which characterise Australian Aboriginal languages, including characteristics of grammar and pronunciation, and understand the ways in which social factors affect language structure and use in Aboriginal Australia.

  • This subject aims to enhance student's racial literacy with a focus on representations of Indigeneity and whiteness in Australia. The term, "racial literacy", devised to describe anti-racist practices, entails students becoming literate in critically reading and understanding multiple modes of race representation. The inter-disciplinary approach enables students to analyse the relationships among texts, images, language and social practices, drawing on Australian literature, media, film and the visual arts. In this way, the subject equips students to become multi-literate in critiquing race constructions of identity formation and nation building through the creative and communicative arts. The subject introduces students to critical theoretical frameworks incorporating postcolonial, race and whiteness studies. It will engage with questions of voice, position, power, agency, capital and social justice issues to explore how representations of Indigeneity and whiteness operate with regard to the intersections of race, gender and class relations in an Australian context (with links and comparisons also made to examples of race representation in a global context).

  • This subject studies Aboriginal dance, theatre and popular music, cultural and sporting festivals; governmental arts funding agencies; and Aboriginal arts organisations. It focuses on theoretical and political issues which arise from Aboriginal culture being both a commodity and a vehicle of Indigenous identity and resistance. It uncovers the diverse and transitional nature of contemporary Aboriginal cultural production and the social and political contexts which frame the creation and use of contemporary Aboriginal cultural production. Students undertaking this subject should develop an understanding of the politics of consumption and appreciation of Aboriginal cultural productions as well as the politics of content.

  • This subject studies Aboriginal fiction, poetry and drama, as well as life stories and criticism, focusing on questions of reading positions (particularly for non-Aboriginal students) and representation. It pays particular attention to the diversity of Aboriginal writing in terms of form, content, voice and place and examines the manner in which the reception of Aboriginal texts has been conditioned by political and economic factors. On completion of this subject students should understand the problematics of Aboriginal writing in the context of postcolonial Australia, and its relation to everyday life.

  • Starting with the acrylics of the Western Desert (Papunya) and ending with the most recent developments in new media, the field of contemporary Aboriginal art will be surveyed. Issues such as copyright and appropriation, the art market, women’s art practice, curating and collection policy are debated in this subject and key works in painting, sculpture, printmaking, and photography are studied and discussed. By the end of semester students should have a familiarity with the main issues concerning the interpretation of Aboriginal art in Australia and have a broad knowledge of the pictorial practices of prominent contemporary Aboriginal artists. Guest lectures by artists, academics and industry professionals, as well as visits to art galleries and museums, are a feature of this subject.

  • The capstone subject will allow students to draw together the knowledge and learning experiences they have had in the Australian Indigenous Studies Major. Students will also have the opportunity to reflect on the deeper implications of this knowledge and apply multidisciplinary research perspectives to a project of their own choosing. Many lectures will be delivered by eminent Aboriginal and Settler practitioners in such fields as education, the public sector, health, law, the media, arts and culture. Students will have the opportunity to engage in dialogue with these practitioners and demonstrate an informed awareness of relevant policy developments in these areas and knowledge of cultural sensitivities. This subject is the practical fruition of the interdisciplinary perspectives that make up the Australian Indigenous Studies major and connects those perspectives to the social world. Students will have the opportunity to explore the intersection between those disciplinary perspectives and cognate ideas in various fields of practice. Students will also have the chance to experience the spectrum of vocational possibilities in Australian Indigenous affairs, and finally, to develop and communicate a mature and broad intellectual perspective on Australian Indigenous affairs.

  • This subject explores colonial ‘mythscapes’, the discursive realms in which myths of nation are forged, constantly negotiated and reconstructed. It applies new historicist approaches to selected key events in Aboriginal Australia’s colonial history. Students will be introduced to historical, archival and cultural materials, and will engage with multi-modal texts spanning art, film and literature, speaking to themes of national amnesia, memory and memorials. Key events will include: colonial narratives and Aboriginal and Settler contact/conflict, Ellen Draper’s Old Cobraboor and The Myall Creek Massacre of 1868, the Contested Grounds of history writing, Kate Grenville’s The Secret River and frontier stories; epic pastoral narratives, pioneer myths and the age of the cattle empires.

Entry requirements & Prerequisites

This major is available through more than one course, both of which have their own separate entry requirements.

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Bachelor of Arts&Bachelor of Arts Extended