This course traces the history of Western exploration of the Americas, Australasia, Africa, Antarctica and beyond from the 15th to the 20th centuries. It will examine the ways in which Western travellers and explorers ventured out into the world beyond Europe, and how they sought to make sense of the environments and peoples they encountered. In this course we will study the diverse commercial, scientific, national, and personal motives explorers had for venturing out into uncharted parts of the world, including the search for imagined El Dorados as well as other fabled lands such as Terra Australis Incognita and Timbuktu. Themes covered in this course include: the interconnections between exploration and natural history including how 'specimens' collected by explorers influenced western scientific knowledge and taxonomy; the influence of technology and media on facilitating exploration and producing ever expanding audiences; and a critical evaluation of the idea of the 'lone explorer' by tracing how these travellers were self-fashioned, depicted in popular culture, and highlighting their often unacknowledged colleagues and intermediaries who assisted them.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the skills and knowledge to:
- demonstrate critical understanding of key themes and issues in the study of global exploration
- explain the relationship between exploration and imperial interests in different national and regional contexts
- examine and analyse primary sources to illuminate course themes
- effectively communicate ideas both orally and in writing
- conduct independent research and analysis
Minor essay (1500 words, 35%) [LOs 1, 2, 3, 4]
Research essay (3000 words, 55%) [LOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
Oral and/or written contribution to class activities 10% [LOs 1, 2, 4]
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.
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Workload130 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.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Weekly readings will be available through Wattle.
Students seeking preliminary reading for the course might consult:
Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe, Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration (NY: WW Norton and Company, 2006).
Driver, Felix, Geography Militant, (2001)
Cherry-Garrard, Apsley, The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctic 1910-13, (various editions).
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
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- 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.