• Offered by School of History
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject History
  • Areas of interest History

This course investigates how Western societies have comprehended humanity's physical diversity and why these understandings have changed over time. We will examine the historical processes which gradually encouraged this diversity to be read both as evidence of permanent, innate, 'racial' difference and justification for socio-political inequality, or 'racist' discrimination. The course considers the concept of 'race' within the contexts of the development of scientific knowledge regarding the natural world and the intellectual history of what it was to be human. Students will explore how these ideas shaped colonisation and chattel slavery; nationalism and empire; segregation and sexuality; eugenics and genocide.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. develop their ability to think historically. That is, they will learn how we go about comprehending the past; explaining change and continuity over time.

2. practise articulating their knowledge of the past and be able to explain how that knowledge relates to the wider historiography as well as present-day concerns.

3. acquire research experience in the history of ideas and the history of science.

4. practise tracking the development of a particular social process (in this case, the process of racialization) over time, thus learning that racial identities, and their attendant inequalities, are neither entirely natural nor inevitable.

Indicative Assessment

Tutorial participation/presentation: (10% of the final grade). Presentations will be scheduled for the second half of the semester [LO 1, 2]

Book review exercise: 1000 words (20% of the final grade) [LO 1, 2]

Research proposal: 1000 words (10% of the final grade) [LO 1, 3]

Research essay: 3000 words (60% of the final grade) [LO 1, 4] As this task takes the place of a final exam it will be due in the first week of the scheduled examination period.

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


On-campus. Lectures streamed via DLD audio, and Web video as available. 

One two-hour lecture and one one-hour tutorial session per week. Tutorial sessions will involve group discussion but also a combination of research workshops, consultations and presentations.  Students should expect to devote a similar period of time each week to private study.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 36 units of ANU courses towards a degree, or with the permission of the convenor.

Prescribed Texts

A Reading Brick will be compiled and available on wattle.

Preliminary Reading

Ivan Hannaford, Race:  The History of an Idea in the West (Baltimore, 1996); Nell Painter, The History of White People (New York, 2010).

Contact course convener for further details.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $1164
2004 $1926
2005 $2286
2006 $2286
2007 $2286
2008 $2286
2009 $2286
2010 $2358
2011 $2424
2012 $2472
2013 $2472
2014 $2478
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $2574
2004 $2916
2005 $3132
2006 $3132
2007 $3132
2008 $3240
2009 $3240
2010 $3240
2011 $3240
2012 $3240
2013 $3240
2014 $3246
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4303 15 Feb 2016 26 Feb 2016 31 Mar 2016 27 May 2016 In Person N/A

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions