• Offered by School of History
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject History
  • Areas of interest Environmental Studies, History, Science, Asian Studies, European Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

This course explores the biggest of historical stories across 13.8 billion years. Beginning with the origins of the universe, it then outlines the emergence of stars and planets, earth, life and human beings, the development of agriculture, writing, trade and culture, cities and civilisations and the creation of a modern, global world. Students will develop a big picture of the past that will help them to understand events and phenomena in perspective. They will also learn about the different approaches and forms of evidence that people use to study the past across a range of disciplines, including via interviews with researchers from disciplines across the ANU. This will invite students to think about how a diverse range of evidence can help us to better understand the world we live in today, and the future, as well as setting the stage to explore the variety of ways in which the history of the world can be told. No background in any of the disciplines covered in this course is needed to enjoy it, and students from across the University are warmly welcome to enrol.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. outline the key changes and patterns in the history of the universe and the globe;
  2. appreciate the different forms of evidence and approaches that can be used to tell the history of the universe and the globe;
  3. identify key phenomena and events that come into view when a larger-scale view of the past is adopted;
  4. analyse and respond to diverse sources and historical questions in written form; and
  5. demonstrate familiarity with the key ideas, sources and themes of the course in oral form.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Universal History, and self assessment (essay, 750 words, due week 4) (10) [LO 1,2,4]
  2. Global History, and self assessment (essay, 1500 words, due week 7) (30) [LO 1,2,4]
  3. Your History, and self assessment (essay, 2000 words, due exam period) (50) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Course Participation, weeks 2–12 (based on rubric, weeks 2–12) (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorial and tutorial-like activities; and

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

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

David Christian, Origin Story, London: Allen Lane, 2018.

Origin Story is available as an audible book, and in 19 languages, including English, Chinese and Spanish.

I recommend that the Library purchase at least the English and Chinese versions of the text, noting that all assessment tasks will be completed in English.

Preliminary Reading

The following readings are recommended on an indicative basis:

  • David Christian, Maps of Time, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011.
  • Noah Harari, Sapiens, New York: Harper, 2011.
  • Cynthia Stokes Brown, Big History, New York: New Press, 2012.
  • Jared Diamond, The World Until Yesterday, New York: Penguin, 2017.
  • Stephen Pinker, Enlightenment Now, London: Penguin, 2018.
  • Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, New York: Broadway, 2004.

Assumed Knowledge

No prior knowledge, skills or courses are assumed.


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
2020 $3120
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $4800
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.

There are no current offerings for this course.

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