• Offered by ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Indigenous Studies
  • Areas of interest Australian Studies, Australian Indigenous Studies, Law, Human Rights
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Mary Spiers Williams
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2019
    See Future Offerings

This course surveys key legal and political moments in the steps towards (and resisting setbacks from) Indigenous self-determination in Australia. Imperial, colonial, state and other government policy and laws regarding Indigenous peoples in Australia from the start of British colonisation until now are discussed. Students will learn about:

  • the rule of law and its uneven application to Indigenous people;
  • Australia’s international obligations in relation to human rights and Indigenous Rights and how the Australian Government has met those obligations or otherwise;
  • egregious breaches of Indigenous peoples’ rights in Australia, such as Government policies and practices in relation to separation of families from children and Government tolerance of stolen wages;
  • the history of the Australian Constitution in relation to Indigenous peoples, the 1967 Referendum, and Indigenous calls for Constitutional Reform;
  • Indigenous sovereignty and consider what a treaty can look like; and
  • some of the political struggles by Indigenous peoples towards securing self-determination and recognition of sovereignty.

This is an introductory course in civics from Indigenous perspectives that is intended for all students from every discipline.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate an informed understanding of the history of Indigenous peoples' civil, political and legal rights in the context of Australian Indigenous history and culture, and policies pertaining to Indigenous peoples in Australia;
  2. analyse the ways in which history and culture informs Australian Indigenous perspectives on civil, political and legal rights including responses to policy;
  3. demonstrate an informed understanding of Australian Indigenous peoples' civil, political and legal rights in the context of Australian Indigenous cultures and traditions; and
  4. demonstrate a comparative knowledge of Australian Indigenous concerns regarding civil, political and legal rights in the global context.

Other Information

In order to pass the course, students must attend all classes (unless there are approved exceptions for medical emergencies, etc under ANU policies). 

Note that important information regarding health, safety, cultural competency and wellbeing will be shared at the first class. Attendance on this day is a precondition to continuing the course. Students who cannot attend the first class will not be able to continue in the course.

The first class will be taught on campus, as timetabled. Almost all other classes will be taught off-campus in cultural institutions and other significant places in Canberra. Students are expected to make their own way to the class locations in Acton, the Parliamentary Circle, Canberra and Barton (such as the National Museum of Australia and Parliament House of Australia).

Detailed information about course content, class locations, preliminary preparation will be made available on Wattle two weeks prior to the commencement of the course.

The student numbers for this course are capped. For this reason, it is necessary to apply for permission to enrol in this course. Students who are accepted into the course will be sent an enrolment code. A waitlist will be created of unsuccessful applicants.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Weekly online forum contribution (15) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Class participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Mid semester Individual Reflective Report, 500 words, based on portfolio of appended weekly reflections (10) [LO 1,2,3]
  4. Individual Research Essay, 2500 words OR Creative work plus exegesis, 1500 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  5. Final individual reflective report, 1250 words, based on appended portfolio of weekly refections (25) [LO 2,3]

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.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 22 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars 2 x 3 hour field trips; and

b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

(Note that the contact hours include compulsory attendance at the first class of the course that concerns student health, safety, emotional wellbeing, and cultural safety)

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

You will need to contact the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts

Readings and other materials will be available on or through Wattle.


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. Tuition fees are indexed annually. 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
2019 $3000
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $4560
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9971 22 Jul 2019 29 Jul 2019 31 Aug 2019 25 Oct 2019 In Person N/A

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