• Offered by School of History
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject History
  • Areas of interest Australian Studies, History, Political Sciences
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Frank Bongiorno
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2023
    See Future Offerings

This course examines Australian politics from a historical perspective. It explores the foundation and working of democracy, the formation and transformation of the party system, and the relationship of politics to broader changes in society. The first part follows a chronological structure, beginning with traditional Indigenous government and extending through the colonial era to the present day, while the second examines a range of themes such as federation, nationalism and republicanism, women, gender and politics, rural politics, Indigenous politics and the media. The aim is to provide students with a historical grounding in the main political trends, institutions, personalities, ideas and ideologies.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. explain the origins and development of institutions, practices, ideas and ideologies in Australian politics;
  2. analyse the relationship between political stability and change, and broader transformations in Australian society and culture;
  3. appreciate the capacity of historical approaches to generate insights into the political past and present;
  4. locate and interpret primary sources, and use them in constructing coherent and persuasive historical questions and answers; and
  5. locate and evaluate secondary authorities, and use them to construct coherent and persuasive historical questions and answers.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Research Essay 2000 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Synoptic Essay 3000 words (50) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  3. Tutorial participation (10) [LO 1,2,3]

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 including a recorded lecture per week of 1 hour; a live and interactive 'lectorial' of 1 hour; and a tutorial of 1 hour (Total: 36 hours). 94 hours of reading, research, writing and site visits (libraries, archives, museums).

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 36 units of ANU courses towards a degree, or with the permission of the convener. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed HIST6227.

Prescribed Texts

Tutorial readings will be made available to students via WATTLE

Preliminary Reading

There is no single-volume political history of Australia. There are, however, a few texts that cover many of the themes of this course over a long time-frame. These include:

Cook, Ian, Liberalism in Australia, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, 1999.

Dyrenfurth, Nick and Bongiorno, Frank, A Little History of the Australian Labor Party, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2011.

Faulkner, John and Macintyre, Stuart (eds), True Believers: The Story of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2001.

Kelly, Paul, 100 Years: The Australian Story, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2001.

McAllister, Ian, The Australian Voter: 50 Years of Change, University of New South Wales Press, 2011.

McMullin, Ross, The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1991.

Manne, Robert (ed.), The Australian Century: Political Struggle in the Building of a Nation, Text, Melbourne, 1999.

Nethercote, J.R. (ed.), Liberalism and the Australian Federation, Federation Press, Annandale, 2001.

Sawer, Marian, The Ethical State?: Social Liberalism in Australia, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 2003.

Souter, Gavin, Acts of Parliament: A Narrative History of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Commonwealth of Australia, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1988.

Walter, James with Moore, Todd, What Were They Thinking?: The Politics of Ideas in Australia, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2010.

There are two long-running series of edited books that should be of interest:

The Australian Commonwealth Administration series (since 1983)

The Australian Elections series (Since 1987)



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
2023 $3960
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $5100
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
7245 24 Jul 2023 31 Jul 2023 31 Aug 2023 27 Oct 2023 In Person View

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