Contemporary History

Contemporary history uses a historical frame of reference to understand the world as it exists today. It is a broad and constantly changing field that touches upon different countries and cultures across the globe. An interest in Contemporary History might lead you to explore the role of cities as key drivers of social change, the emergence of the modern language of human rights or the origins of globalization.

Staff Research Areas

The History Program includes a number of staff working on topics in Contemporary History:

Ernest Koh            Modern Southeast and East Asian history
Kate Murphy          Australian history and social history
Seamus O’Hanlon  19th & 20th century Australian and British urban, social and cultural history

Undergraduate Units Offered

We offer a range of units in contemporary history. These are taught in conjunction with International Studies, a cross-disciplinary major offered by the School. For a full list of units, see the handbook but you might want to consider:

ATS2623/3623 – Nationality, ethnicity and conflict Semester 2 2012 The unit explores ideas of ‘nation’, ‘nationality’ and ‘ethnicity’ through a variety of theoretical frameworks and with the specific focus on three case studies; Yugoslavia, South Africa and Malaysia, from the sixteenth century to the present. Students will be expected to explore the histories of the three case studies over the period in order to gain a deeper understanding of some of the complex issues tied up in nationalism, nation building, ethnicity and conflict throughout the modern era.
ATS2633 – Global cities: past, present future Semester 2 2012. How have cities contributed to the progress of globalisation over the past two millennia? This unit analyses a series of major world cities, examining their histories, contemporary situation, and emerging or possible future development scenarios. The overarching theme will be the historical and contemporary role of cities as drivers of economic and social change, with a sub-theme around the idea of cities as centres of cultural interaction.
Honours LevelATS4810 – Global justice: civil and human rights after 1945  Semester 1 2012. This unit explores civil and human rights campaigns since 1945. It examines their origins and outcomes, and the ways in which they drew from and contributed to an emerging international framework. Further case studies include women’s rights and sexual liberation, freedom of speech, capital punishment, economic justice and unfair trade. The unit examines the development of global movements and organisations, new technologies and tactics of protest and the formation of virtual communities of activism. It also covers the relationship between universal notions of justice and differences of gender, culture and belief, and potential differences between local and global understandings of ‘rights’.


  • Asian History

    Asia has historically occupied a position at the centre of the global economy. For much…

  • Australian History

    Monash is a particularly active centre for the research and teaching of Australian History.  It…

  • European History

    SOPHIS welcomes all students interested in the history of Europe. We offer a strong program…

  • American History

    Despite its recent economic difficulties, the United States remains a military, economic and cultural superpower….

  • Medieval & Renaissance History

    Monash has long been a pioneer in the study of medieval and Renaissance history in…