• Offered by Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Indigenous Studies
  • Areas of interest Australian Indigenous Studies, Economic History, Economic Policy, Applied Economics

Aboriginal people have been living in Australia for over 60,000 years and the Indigenous economy has sustained their culture and society for that whole period. This course seeks to use a range of basic economic concepts to understand the nature and operation of that economy in order to critically assess various policy options for effectively addressing the significant socioeconomic challenges facing Indigenous Australians in the modern economy. The inherent complexities of these challenges means that students will be also exposed to a range of insights from other disciplines (e.g., philosophy, anthropology and demography) to assess effective policy options that are likely to require a combination of equity or fairness considerations with an efficient allocation of resources.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. explain basic economic concepts relevant for Indigenous Australia (e.g. scarcity, opportunity costs, supply and demand, comparative advantage, welfare and policy evaluation);
  2. critically assess the historical value and relative importance of resources (i.e. land, labour and capital) in ongoing Indigenous development;
  3. distinguish between sunk costs and opportunity costs and their respective roles in addressing Indigenous disadvantage;
  4. compare and contrast Indigenous involvement in various sectors in order to identify the comparative advantage of Indigenous Australians; and
  5. explain the linkages and tensions surrounding Indigenous economic development through written analysis and/or oral presentation.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Comparative Research Paper, 2000 words (20) [LO 1,2,4,5]
  2. Briefing Document, 2000 words (30) [LO 4,5]
  3. Tutorial Participation (in discussing 'briefing document') (10) [LO 4,5]
  4. Synoptic Essay, 2000 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  5. (null) [LO null]

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;


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

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

Altman, J. and Biddle, N. (2015). Refiguring Indigenous economies: a 21st —century perspective, Chapter 24 in Simon Ville and Glenn Withers The Cambridge Economic History of Australia, CUP, Cambridge, pp.530—55.

Hunter, B. (2015) ‘The Aboriginal Legacy’, Chapter 4 in Simon Ville and Glenn Withers The Cambridge Economic History of Australia, CUP, Cambridge, pp.73—96.

Preliminary Reading

  • Fijn, N. Keen, I. Lloyd, C. and Pickering, M. (eds) (2012), Indigenous Participation in Australian Economies II: Historical Engagements and Current Enterprises (Canberra: ANU E Press). See Altman Chapter for Hybrid Economy.
  • Hunter, B. and Jordan, K. ( 2010) Explaining Social exclusion: Towards Social Inclusion for Indigenous Australians’, Australian Journal of Social Issues, 45(2): 243—65.
  • Langton, M. 2010. ‘The resource curse: New outback principalities and the paradox of plenty’, Griffith Review, 28 (Still the Lucky Country?): 46—62.

Assumed Knowledge

First year microeconomics level. Some understanding of first year macroeconomics is also desirable but not essential.


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 $3180
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $4890
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
5488 24 Jul 2023 31 Jul 2023 31 Aug 2023 27 Oct 2023 In Person View

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