• Class Number 4310
  • Term Code 3230
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Nicholas Brown
    • Dr Nicholas Brown
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 21/02/2022
  • Class End Date 27/05/2022
  • Census Date 31/03/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 28/02/2022
SELT Survey Results

The course explores the Australian economy in a historical context. It will examine aspects of the history of the Australian economy from early Indigenous society through to the present. It is intended for students who are seeking a broad understanding of how the economy works. The approach adopted will emphasise that the present Australian economy needs to be seen in the context of the historical pattern of development and change. While the course deals primarily with economic factors, social and political contexts and connections will also be considered.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which the Australian economy has changed over time and will have developed a perspective of Australia’s present position in the international economy that takes these historical changes into account;
  2. present a variety of interpretations and debates on Australia’s economic history; and,
  3. demonstrate research and communication skills through tutorial work and essay writing.

Research-Led Teaching

This course will draw on the research expertise of the convenor, tutors and guest lecturers, and on guided access to the specialised research resources offered by the ANU's Archives of Business and Labour and collections in Canberra's national cultural and archival institutions.

Field Trips

There will be a (voluntary) visit to the Noel Butlin Archives Centre (located in the Menzies Library) in order to learn more about the primary sources used by economic historians of Australia. This will occur onb Wednesday, 9 March, 1:15pm-2:30pm. Availability if places will be dependent on Covid-19 guidelines then in place. While not compulsory, students are encouraged to attend as information provided will prove beneficial in approaching the long essay assessment component. These details will be confirmed in lectures.

Examination Material or equipment

Examination will be a take-home, open-book paper, over 3 days, the details of which will provided on Wattle. Students will be able to draw on lecture materials and readings accumulated throughout the course and supplied on Wattle.

Required Resources

The textbook for this subject is: Ian W. McLean, Why Australia Prospered: The Shifting Sources of Economic Growth (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2012).

The full text is available online to ANU staff and students through the ANU Library catalogue. Given that we will be using it most weeks, you may find it easier to buy a copy. You need to be logged in to gain access to the ANU Library copy but only three people can gain access at any one time.

You are expected to complete the prescribed reading, as listed in the course guide and provided on the Wattle site for the course, each week. The 'Further Reading' list provided in the course guide for each week is meant to be indicative and representative rather than comprehensive, but should assist you in preparing for assignments and exams. Note that these references are listed alphabetically by author and not in order of importance. Some references are located in the Open Reserve section of the University Library and copies of many are also on the open shelves. Many articles are available through the journal data-bases accessible through the ANU Library Catalogue. You should also visit the National Library of Australia and acquire a card so that you can use its outstanding collection. You should explore other possibilities for readings using the ANU Library catalogue, Google Scholar, and other finding aids.

Apart from the prescribed text, there are some useful general economic histories of Australia. Some appear in the Readings Lists below, and some do not. The following are likely to be of particular use:

Dyster, Barrie and David Meredith, Australia in the Global Economy: Continuity and Change, 2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2012.

Forster, C. (ed.), Australian Economic Development in the Twentieth Century, George Allen & Unwin and Australasian Publishing Company, London and Sydney, 1970.

Griffin, James (ed.), Essays in Economic History of Australia, The Jacaranda Press, Milton (Qld), 1970.

Jackson, R.V., Australian Economic Development in the Nineteenth Century, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1977.

Maddock, Rodney and Ian W. McLean (eds), The Australian Economy in the Long Run, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1987

Sinclair, W.A., The Process of Economic Development in Australia, Cheshire, Melbourne, 1976.

Ville, Simon and Glenn Withers (eds), The Cambridge Economic History of Australia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2015 [ANU Library: Internet Resource]

Wheelwright, E.L. and Ken Buckley, Essays in the Political Economy of Australian Capitalism, 5 Volumes, Australia & New Zealand Book Company, Sydney, 1975-1983.

If you are unfamiliar with Australian history, you might find it useful to acquire a general history. A suitable one for this course is: Macintyre, Stuart, A Concise History of Australia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Fifth Edition, 2020.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

Informal feedback on online participation on Wattle

Informal feedback, where sought, via email

Formal feedback on assignments.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lectures Introduction: Why Australian Economic History The Indigenous Economy Tutorial Overview
2 Lectures Economic Foundations of Australian Colonisation The Rural Economy Tutorial Foundations
3 Lectures Urbanisation, Gold and Industrialisation Depression of the 1890s to World War 1 Tutorial Pastoral Expansion and Retreat Visit to Noel Butlin Archives Centre (Menzies Library, Building #2), Australian National University: Wednesday 9 March, 1:15-2:30pm TBC
4 Lecture Energy and Productivity The Interwar Years Tutorial Boom and Bust, 1850-1914
5 Lectures World War II Post-War Reconstruction Tutorial From Great War to Depression, 1914-1939 First essay: due 4:00pm 25 March
6 Lectures Australia and the Post-War International Economic Order The Rise of Central Banking Tutorial World War Two and Its Economic Legacy
7 Lectures The Long Boom The Mining Boom Tutorial The Long Boom, 1950-1973
8 Lectures Documentary Film: 'The Fabric of a Dream: The Fletcher Jones Story' End of the Long Boom Tutorial End of the Long Boom, 1973-1982
9 Lectures The 1980s I: Government The 1980s II: Business Tutorial The 1980s
10 Lectures Tracking the Welfare State 1990s: Recession, Recovery and Resilience Tutorial The 1990s
11 Lectures The China Boom and Beyond Gender and the Modern Australian Economy Tutorial The China Boom and the Global Financial Crisis Second essay: due 4:00pm 20 May
12 Lectures Indigenous Economies in Modern Australia The Long Run and Now: Revision and Overview Tutorial ? The Long Run and Now: Revision and Overview
13 Examination period Final take-home examination

Tutorial Registration

Tutorial participation is a component of the assessment scheme for this course. Tutorials this semester will be mainly delivered on-campus, reflecting the ANU's emphasis in-person teaching. At least one tutorial group will be made available online, for those students who are unable to participate in on-campus classes. we will seek to ensure students have access to their preferred format within this framework. You are expected to attend one tutorial each week from Week 1 onwards. You must enrol in a tutorial using the Wattle site for this course, and attend the tutorial in which you are enrolled. A selection of tutorials will be open for enrolment prior to the beginning of the semester - the remaining tutorials will be open in week 1 of Semester,, taking into account student demand. When tutorials are available for enrolment, follow these steps:

1.   Log on to Wattle, and go to the course site

2.   Click on the link “Tutorial enrolment”

3.   On the right of the screen, click on the tab “Become Member of…..” for the tutorial class you wish to enter

4.   Confirm your choice

If you need to change your enrolment, you will be able to do so by clicking on the tab “Leave group….” and then re-enrol in another group. You will not be able to enrol in groups that have reached their maximum number. Please note that enrolment in ISIS must be finalised for you to have access to Wattle.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Tutorial participation 10 % * * 1,2,3
Short Essay 20 % 25/03/2022 11/04/2022 1,2,3
Long Essay 30 % 20/05/2022 03/06/2022 1,2,3
Final Examination 40 % * * 1,2,3

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Lectures will be delivered in-person (unless university guidance dictates otherwise) and available as recordings. Students are encouraged to attend lectures in person if possible, to enable clarification of any questions, and to keep up-to-date with the lecture program as it will directly inform tutorial discussion. Tutorials in this course will be delivered by Zoom and in-person (to the extent circumstances permit). Tutorial participation is a compulsory component of assessment.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Tutorial participation

Value: 10%

Whatever form of tutorial delivery is possible/preferred, students are expected to contribute to weekly discussions. In these contributions students should seek to demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which the Australian economy has changed over time, a perspective on Australia’s present position in the international economy that takes these historical changes into account, and the capacity the evaluate a variety of interpretations and debates on the phases and significance of Australia’s economic history. Students will be provided with individual feedback on their participation in an email from their tutor at the end of Week 6. Participation assessment will reflect student's contribution over the course of the semester. Students who are unable to attend a tutorial in a given week should inform their tutor in advance of the class.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 25/03/2022
Return of Assessment: 11/04/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Short Essay

Value: 20%

Word Limit: 1200 words

Due date: 25 March 4:00pm – through Turnitin

This exercise encourages reflection on the ways in which economic history can inform an understanding of the contemporary Australian economy.


Identify two features of the Australian economy, as it developed from early European settlement to 1939, which have exerted significant influence over its long-term patterns development and management? Justify your selection of features and evaluate the extent and character of their influence.

Assessment Criteria

·                   How clearly is the selection of features explained and justified?

·                    How effectively is the influence of those features explained and assessed?

·                    Is the essay factually accurate?

·                    Is there an appropriate introduction?

·                    Is there an appropriate conclusion?

·                    Is the structure of your essay logical and coherent?

·                   Have you used correct paragraphing, syntax, punctuation, grammar and spelling?

·                    Is your referencing consistent, accurate and informative?

·                    Is your bibliography consistent, accurate and informative?

·                    How well is your assignment presented overall?

Further details on essay presentation and assessment are provide on Wattle.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 20/05/2022
Return of Assessment: 03/06/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Long Essay

Value: 30%

Word limit: 2500 words

Due date: 20 May 4:00pm – through Turnitin

This exercise is an in-depth historical study of a focused topic and period, demonstrating research, writing and analytical skills. It is based on Weeks 1-9.

Questions (Choose ONE):

1.   How did traditional Aboriginal societies manage their material resources and with what consequences for their economic and social life?

2.   'I split the rock;/ I felled the tree:/The nation was-/Because of me!'. How well does the poet Mary Gilmore's description capture convicts' economic contribution to Australia's economy?

3.   Did the Australian economy ride on the sheep's back in the nineteenth century?

4.   How did gold influence Australian economic development up to 1870?

5.   What can the depressions of the 1840s, 1890s and 1930s tell us about change and stability in the Australian economy?

6.   ‘The half-century 1890-1940 was, materially, a disappointment.’ (Geoffrey Blainey, The Story of Australia’s People: The Rise and Rise of a New Australia,

p. 286). Discuss.

7.   How did the experience of world war (1914-18 and 1939-45) affect Australia's economy?

8.   What were the major economic characteristics of Australia's version of the post-World War 2 'affluent society'?

9. How the mining boom change Australia's economy in the 1960s and 1970s?

10. How effectively did Australian policy-makers grapple with the end of the long boom between 1973 and 1982?

11. What drove economic reform during the Hawke era (1983-91)?

Students might also formulate their own question but only in consultation with their tutor.

Assessment Criteria

·                    How relevant, coherent and persuasive is the argument?

·                    How effectively have you used evidence?

·                    Is your research broad and appropriate to the question?

·                    How well have you used primary sources/statistics?

·                    Is the essay factually accurate?

·                    Is there an appropriate introduction?

·                    Is there an appropriate conclusion?

·                    Is the structure of your essay logical and coherent?

·                   Have you used correct paragraphing, syntax, punctuation, grammar and spelling?

·                    Is your referencing consistent, accurate and informative?

·                    Is your bibliography consistent, accurate and informative?

·                    How well is your assignment presented overall?

Further details on essay presentation and assessment are provided on Wattle.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Final Examination

Duration: a take-home paperr to be completed over 3 days. Further details will be provided on Wattle, in lectures and tutorials. The exam will be scheduled throught the ANU Examination system and held during the exam period (2022-06-02 to 2022-06-18)

Value: 40%

Details of Task:

TWO short-answer questions (between half and one page for each question) and worth one-third of the value of the exam in total. You will have SIX to choose from and these may cover any aspect of the course.

TWO long-answer questions (approximately two to three pages each) with each question worth one-third of the value of the exam. There will be TWO sections each with THREE questions available. You will need to choose ONE question from each section. The questions may cover any aspect of the course.

Guidance on exam preparation will provided in lectures and tutorials from Week 10 onwards.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission


Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date. If there is a particular reason why you need to have the date for an assessment varied, please contact the course convener on frank.bongiorno@anu.edu.au

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned via email or Wattle.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments


Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Nicholas Brown

Research Interests

Australian history

Dr Nicholas Brown

Wednesday 14:00 16:00
Wednesday 14:00 16:00
By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Nicholas Brown

Research Interests

Dr Nicholas Brown

Wednesday 14:00 16:00
Wednesday 14:00 16:00
By Appointment
By Appointment

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