• Offered by School of Art and Design
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Art History
  • Areas of interest Art History
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Brenda Croft
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

Australian First Nations’ arts and cultural practices and cosmological beliefs span 60,000+ years, with Australian First Nations' Peoples standing firm in the belief that they have been here since deep time associated with Australian First Nations' Ancestral Beings, creation stories and cosmologies. This course explores the diversity of pre-contact, post-contact Australian First Nations' arts and cultural manifestations, from customary to contemporary representations, incorporating diverse media and trans-disciplinary platforms.

The course in Australian First Nations’ visual arts and culture has three main aims:

* Provide students with basic geographical, historical and contextual frameworks for the study of Australian First Nations’ visual arts and culture in mainland Australia, Tasmania and the Torres Strait Islands.

* Familiarise students with concepts that are fundamental to Australian First Nations’ understandings of the interconnected relationships between art, culture and life, both historically (pre- and early post-contact, up to the early 20th century) and in a contemporary (early 20th - present-day) context.

* Assist students in developing ideas about how contemporary Australian First Peoples’ visual arts and cultures contribute to cross-cultural critical theory, representation and identity, and trans-disciplinary practice and research.

Wherever possible collections and exhibitions at national arts, cultural, social history and archival institutions are used as part of the teaching and learning experience.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. identify historical and geographical origins of Australian First Nations’ Visual Arts and Culture and Cultural Practices;
  2. conduct a culturally relevant appreciation of Australian First Nations’ Visual Arts and Culture and Cultural Practices;
  3. develop cross-cultural awareness in the processes of interpretation of Australian First Nations’ Visual Arts and Culture and Cultural Practices;
  4. research and access information on Australian First Nations’ Visual Arts and Culture and Cultural Practices; and
  5. speak and write with appropriate cultural sensitivity and awareness on Australian First Nations’ Visual Arts and Culture and Cultural Practices.

Other Information

Relevant readings, resources and tasks will be uploaded to Wattle throughout the semester.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Oral presentation (10 mins) of 1000 word paper (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Research essay, 2000 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  3. Review, 1000 words (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  4. Tutorial and Online Forum participation (10) [LO 1,3,5]

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 tutorials; and b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing. Contact hours may include visits to major art institutions in Canberra.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 36 units of courses towards an ANU degree, or with the permission of the convenor. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed ARTH6598.

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

Caruana, Wally, & Cubillo, Franchesca, 'Introduction to Aboriginal Art', from 'Indigenous Australia: Masterworks from the National Gallery of Australia', 2017



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

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
4074 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 08 May 2020 05 Jun 2020 In Person N/A

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