• Offered by Research School of Humanities and the Arts
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Research
  • Course subject Humanities
  • Areas of interest Art History, Museums and Collections, Digital Humanities, Heritage Studies

This intensive course will introduce students to critical issues in archival practice in a rapidly changing terrain. They will experience archival culture firsthand: how and why archivists work and think across a broad range of institutions and they will engage directly with a diverse types of archival material including institutional records, personal papers, material culture, as well as sound and audio-visual archives. The course focuses on examining the intellectual processes rather than the mechanistic practices of archiving. Students will consider specific theoretical and practical issues raised by particular forms of archive such as the politics of selection, the impact of digital technology, conceptual frameworks such as DIY archiving and so-called ‘radical archives’ as well as different approaches to curating and exhibiting archives. Taking advantage of the university’s place in the national capital, this course will include field trips to many major cultural institutions which could include the ANU Noel Butlin Archives, the National Library of Australia, the National Archives of Australia, the War Memorial and the National Film and Sound Archive. This course is of interest to students of museum and heritage studies, history, anthropology, art history, music and digital humanities.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate a critical understanding of contemporary archival practices and processes across a range of institutional frameworks and material types;
  2. develop a proficiency in archival literacy across a range of platforms;
  3. undertake independent archival research in the design and execution of an original research project; and
  4. demonstrate the ability to develop a sustained argument synthesising theoretical concepts and 'archival work' based on a specialised archive/s.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Reflective journal responding to the field trips to cultural institutions in conjunction with related issues raised in the workshops 2000 words (25) [LO 1,2,4]
  2. Seminar presentation held at the end of the semester presenting the findings of the major research project, 15 minutes (25) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Major research project developed from a direct and critical engagement with an archive/s 4000 words or equivalent (50) [LO 1,2,3,4]

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.


This will be an intensive course held over 5 consecutive days each divided into a 3-hour field trip to various cultural institutions and a 3-hour workshop on campus.  At a later stage there will be a one-day session for student presentations of the major research assessment (36 hours). Students are expected to commit a further 94 hours of independent study over the semester (total 130 hours).

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

Archive Journal 2011-2015 http://www.archivejournal.net/
Burton, Antoinette (ed.) 2005 Archive stories: facts, fictions, and the writing of history. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.
Hamilton, Carolyn (ed.) 2002 Refiguring the Archive. Dordrecht; Boston, Kluwer Academic.
Kaplan, Alice Yaeger. 1990   ‘Working in the Archives’, Yale French Studies (Special Issue Reading the Archive: On Texts and Institutions).
Manoff, Marlene. 2004 ‘Theories of the Archive from Across the Disciplines’, Libraries and the Academy 4:1, 9—25
Osborne, Tom. 1999 ‘The Ordinariness of the Archive’, History of the Human Sciences 12:2, 51—64.
Ramsey, Alexis E.  Wendy B. Sharer, Barbara L’Eplattenier, and Lisa S. Mastrangelo (eds) 2010 Working in the Archives: Practical Research Methods for Rhetoric and Composition. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP.
Simon, Cheryl. 2002 'Introduction: Following the Archival Turn', Visual Resources, 18:2, 101-107.
Steedman, Carolyn 2001 Dust. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Steedman, Carolyn. 2005 ‘Archival Methods’, in Research Methods for English Studies, ed. Gabriele Griffin Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 17—29.
Steedman, Carolyn. 2011 ‘After the Archive’, Comparative Critical Studies 8.2-3, 321-40.


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2021 $3630
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $5580
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.

Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4238 01 Jul 2022 22 Jul 2022 22 Jul 2022 30 Sep 2022 In Person N/A

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