• Class Number 4087
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Nicholas Brown
    • Dr Nicholas Brown
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
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 Noel Butlin Archives Centre and collections in Canberra's national cultural and archival institutions. Students will be expected to undertake primary research, especially for the second essay.

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 on Monday, 4 March, 12.30pm-1.00pm. While not compulsory, students are encouraged to attend as information provided will prove beneficial in approaching the long essay assessment component especially. These details will be confirmed in lectures.

Additional Course Costs


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, so you should download what you wish to read.

You are expected to complete the 'Prescribed Reading' (Document(s), Context and Background, 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 the exam. 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:


Coghlan, T.A., Labour and Industry in Australia from the first Settlement in 1788 to the Establishment of the Commonwealth in 1901, 4 Volumes, Oxford University Press, London, 1918 [and 1969 edition].

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.


For a history of Australian economic history itself, see Claire E.F. Wright, Australian Economic History: Transformations of an Interdisciplinary Field, ANU Press, Canberra, 2021, available at: https://press.anu.edu.au/publications/australian-economic-history


If you are unfamiliar with Australian history, you might find it useful to acquire a general history:


Macintyre, Stuart, A Concise History of Australia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Fifth Edition, 2020.

Johnson, Louise, Tanja Luckins and David Walker, The Story of Australia: A New History of People and Place, Routledge, London, 2022.

Peel, Mark and Christina Twomey, A History of Australia, 2nd Edition, Bloomsbury Publishing, London , 2017.


Staff Feedback

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

Informal feedback in tutorials

Informal feedback, where sought, via email

Formal feedback on assignments, excluding the take-home examination.

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). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Other Information

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lectures
  1. Introduction: Why Australian Economic History?
  2. The Indigenous Economy Before Colonisation
2 Lectures
  1. Economic Foundations of Colonisation
  2. The Rural Economy
3 Lectures
  1. Cities, Gold and Industry
  2. Depression of the 1890s to World War 1
TutorialPastoral Expansion and RetreatVisit to Noel Butlin Archives Centre (Menzies Library, Building #2), Australian National University: Monday 4 March, 12.30-13.00am
4 Lecture
  1. Resources, Energy, Transport and the Environment
  2. Federation of the Colonies to Depression of the 1930s
TutorialBoom and Bust, 1850-1914
5 Lectures
  1. World War Two
  2. Post-War Reconstruction
TutorialFrom Great War to Depression, 1914-1939
First essay: due 18 March
6 Lectures
  1.  Australia and the Post-War International Economic Order
  2. The Rise of Central Banking
TutorialWorld War Two and Its Economic Legacy
7 Lectures
  1. The Long Boom, 1950-73
  2. The Mining Boom
TutorialThe Long Boom, 1950-1973
8 Lectures
  1. Anzac Day Public Holiday
  2. End of the Long Boom
TutorialEnd of the Long Boom, 1973-1982
9 Lectures
  1. The 1980s I: Government
  2. The 1980s II: Business
TutorialThe 1980s
10 Lectures
  1.  Tracking the Welfare State
  2. 1990s: Recession, Recovery and Resilience
TutorialThe 1990s
Second essay: due 10 May
11 Lectures
  1. The China Boom and Beyond
  2. Gender and the Economy in Recent History
TutorialThe China Boom and the Global Financial Crisis

12 Lectures
  1.  Indigenous Economies in Modern Australia
  2. 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 will be delivered on-campus, reflecting the ANU's emphasis on in-person teaching. You are required to attend one tutorial each week from Week 1 onwards. You must enrol in a tutorial using My Timetable from Monday 5 February 2024.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Tutorial participation 10 % * * 1,2,3
Short Essay 20 % 18/03/2024 05/04/2024 1,2,3
Long Essay 30 % 10/05/2024 * 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 Integrity 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 Skills website. 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 held in-person. Tutorial participation is a compulsory component of assessment.


Take-home examination to be conducted over a three-day period during the formal examination term (30th May to 16th June 2024)

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Tutorial participation

Value: 10%

Students are expected to contribute to the discussion in tutorials, demonstrating an understanding of the ways in which the Australian economy has changed over time, a perspective of 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 Australia’s economic history.

Each student is expected to lead at least one tutorial class and your performance in this endeavour will contribute to your mark. You will be signed up for one of the weeks at the beginning of the course. ‘Leading’ involves a 3-minute overview of at least one key question in the topic – either those set out in the course outline, or one of your own devising. You must not speak for more than 3 minutes at the outset, but it is also expected that you will participate significantly in discussion as it develops.

Once you are enrolled in a particular weekly tutorial class, you must attend the same class each week.

As noted on page 5, for each week’s tutorial a set of readings are provided on Wattle. Students are expected to have read the Prescribed Readings – the Document/s and the texts setting the Context for the issues under discussion and the Background selection – usually the relevant chapter from McLean.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 18/03/2024
Return of Assessment: 05/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Short Essay

Value: 20%

Word Limit: 1200 words

Due date: 18 March – through Turnitin

This exercise will test your understanding of the major theme of the course to date, the development of a settler economy in a land taken from First Nations peoples.



What were the main drivers of Australia’s economic development between 1788 and 1914? Identify at least two significant factors and justify your selections by reference to evidence from your studies in the course so far.


Please use footnotes (NOT in-text referencing or endnotes) which reveal your engagement with course materials, including the weekly reading. Do not base your response on Google keyword searches.


Assessment Criteria

·      How clearly is the selection of drivers 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?


Note also:


Bibliography. List alphabetically all references cited in footnotes as well as other sources that provided you with useful information or significantly influenced your thinking in writing your essay. The style of the bibliography should be similar to that used for footnotes but with items listed in alphabetical order according to the surname of the author (The Further Reading lists in this course outline are in the style of a standard bibliography). It is not necessary to specify in the bibliography which pages or chapters of an authored or co-authored book you actually used, but journal articles and chapters in edited books should include the full date-range of the piece concerned.


Referencing requirements

In line with the conventions of historical research, this course requires that you use footnotes in your assignment work (Assessment Tasks 2 and 3, but not in exams). All quotations must have footnotes. You should also provide a footnote to indicate the source of statistical data and other information, as well as any major ideas you have drawn on. You must also include a bibliography at the end of your work. Please do not use in-text/Harvard-style referencing. References should follow Chicago style.

Guidance in Chicago style referencing is widely available online. See, for example: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html


Excessive Word-Count

A 10% allowance for submitted work, in addition to the figure listed for each assignment, is permitted. Thereafter, a penalty of 10% applies. We count everything in the main body of the essay, including direct quotations. Footnotes and bibliography are NOT included in the word-count, so you may need to tweak your word–processing software to exclude these components from its tally.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 10/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Long Essay

Value: 30%

Word limit: 2500 words

Due date: 10 May – through Turnitin


This exercise is an in-depth historical study of a focussed topic and period, demonstrating research, writing and analytical skills. It is based on Weeks 1-8. Your answer must demonstrate that you have grappled with the set readings as well as the wider scholarly literature as found in academic journals, scholarly books, and primary source materials from reputable databases. The latter might include Australian Newspapers Online (Trove), Project Gutenberg (e.g. explorers’ journals), digitised records available through the National Archives of Australia (RecordSearch) and the National Library of Australia (Catalogue), and parliamentary debates, papers, votes and proceedings. Essays based on Google keyword searching of non-scholarly sources are likely to result in a Fail grade.


Please look broadly when answering questions to consider the experiences of Indigenous people, women and migrants, as well as different Colonies/States and regions.


Questions (Choose ONE):

1.   To what extent was pre-contact Indigenous Australia an ‘affluent society’?

2.   How did convict men and women contribute to the economic development of Australia?

3.   What opportunities, and limitations, did Australia’s colonies present women as economic actors? (Your response should include business, and both paid and unpaid labour.)

4. Explain the costs and benefits of wool as a driver of Australian economic, political and social development up to 1914.

5.   How do you think Australia’s economic development would have been different without gold in the period before 1901?

6.   Compare the economic and social impact of the depressions of the 1890s and 1930s.

7.  ‘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.

8.   In what ways did World War Two see the economic maturation of Australia?

9.   What were the major economic and social characteristics of Australia’s version of the post-World War 2 ‘affluent society’?

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


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?

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Final Examination

Value: 40%

Details of Task


TWO short-answer questions (2 X 400 words) 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 (2 X 1000 words) 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.


The exam will be a sit-down exam of three hours duration (plus a half-hour reading time). No materials will be permitted in the examination ahll. The exam will be scheduled by the ANU's Examinations office with the Semester One exam period, 30 May-16 June.


Please note that no extensions can be given for examinations under any circumstances. If, for some valid reason, you are unable to complete this examination at the designated time, you will need to apply for a deferred examination through the usual processes.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

Online Submission

You will be required to sign electronically 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 is 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 echi1006@anu.edu.au

Referencing Requirements

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

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

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

Research Interests

Australian history

Dr Nicholas Brown

Monday 14:00 16:00
Monday 14:00 16:00
By Appointment

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