Australian History

Monash is a particularly active centre for the research and teaching of Australian History. It offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate units as well as an internationally recognized postgraduate program. The History program includes some of the foremost scholars of Australian history working on such topics as Australians at war, social and cultural history, oral history and memory, public history and heritage, and urban history.

As well as the staff located in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, there are a number of Australian historians located in other Schools and Centres acros the Faculty of Arts. These include the Monash Indigenous Centre and the National Centre for Australian Studies. Details of some units offered by these centres can be found at the bottom of this page.

SOPHIS Staff Research Areas

SOPHIS includes a number of staff working across the broad field of Australian History. Their broad research interests are as follows:

Bain Attwood Australian and New Zealand indigenous history
Graeme Davison Australian urban and social history; heritage and public history
Kat Ellinghaus Indigenous History; Gender; Comparative history of the United States and Australia
Ruth Morgan Australian environmental history
Kate Murphy Australian history and social history
Seamus O’Hanlon Nineteenth and twentieth-century Australian and British urban, social and cultural history
Marian Quartly Australian social, political, and religious history; women’s history and gender history.
Alistair Thomson Oral history; Collective memory; British and Australian social history
Christina Twomey Cultural History of War; Australian social and cultural history

Australian History Units in SOPHIS

We offer a wide range units in Australian history from first through to fourth year (honours). See the Monash handbook for a full list of units and when they are offered, but you might want to consider:

Undergraduate Units Offered

Australia to 1901: Making a nation
This unit offers a critical examination of Australian people and culture from the earliest days of European settlement until the federation of the colonies in 1901 and the introduction of the White Australia policy. It explores the economic, social and cultural impact of colonisation and emigration on both newcomers and indigenous people; looking also at conflict over access to land, mineral wealth, political power and the control of working conditions; contests over the definitions, benefits and limitations of citizenship and at the fate of the family. It will also examine how artists, novelists, film-makers, politicians and historians have pictured Australia’s colonial past.
Twentieth century Australia: From Anzac to Apology
Twentieth century Australians has witnessed dramatic change, from: white Australia to multicultural Australia; ‘Australia unlimited’ to environmental crisis; British colonies to Asian-Pacific nation; assimilation to Apology. Women’s roles have transformed and war is now central to our history and identity. None of these changes have been easy; all have been contested and offer continuing challenges. In this unit you will explore key themes in twentieth century Australian history, and develop historical skills and understandings by using online primary sources including: oral histories, letters and diaries, photographs, newspapers, government records and official enquiries.
ATS2584 / 3584
Australia’s Black History
This unit will consider relations between indigenous and non-Aboriginal people in Australia since 1770. The main topics will include the legal basis of British sovereignty; the nature of frontier contact; violence and the dispossession of Aborigines; Aboriginal depopulation; Aborigines’ responses to colonialism; government policy and practice, from segregation to assimilation; and Aboriginal political movements. The unit will simultaneously examine the political and theoretical dimensions associated with representing the Australian Aboriginal past and, in particular, the relationship between power and knowledge in historical discourses.
Making digital histories
How do we make the past into history? In this unit you will learn to think and work like a professional historian. You’ll research a topic from your own family history, from resources provided by Museum Victoria (MV), or from a previous unit. You’ll do oral history interviews and research photos, objects, documents and other sources. You’ll storyboard and script your own history video. In the final month we will work together in computer labs as each student produces their digital video, which will be placed on a Making History website and then showcased at a Museum event for students, family and friends. See previous student work at

Postgraduate Units Offered

A full list of postgraduate coursework units can be found here, but you might want to consider:

Recording oral history: Theory and practice
This unit examines the theoretical and methodological issues posed in the creation of oral history interviews, drawing upon the rich inter-disciplinary and international literature in the field and through critical reflection on students’ own oral history interview practice. Students will explore: debates about memory and oral history; approaches and issues in interview preparation; approaches and issues in conducting oral history interviews; digital audio recording techniques and issues; ethical, epistemological and political issues posed by the oral history relationship; and approaches and issues in the documentation and preservation of oral history interviews.
History and heritage
History and Heritage introduces students to the policy and practice of heritage professionals in the twenty- first century. The unit draws on local and international examples to demonstrate the contested nature of what constitutes heritage. Students are introduced to ideas about cultural and architectural heritage, the meanings of culture, cultural significance, ‘reading’ historic buildings and landscapes, and how all of these are interpreted by heritage professionals. Students learn the various local, national and international statutes that protect and enhance physical and cultural heritage.

More information about studying Australian History as a research degree (HDR)

We recommend that you visit the staff profiles listed above for possible research supervision areas.

Units offered in other academic units

Australian History units are offered in a number of different schools and centres across Monash. In particular, students interested in Australian history should consider taking units at the National Center for Australian Studies, which offers an interdisciplinary program in Australian studies. Some units to consider include: