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Major: Modern History

Award(s) to which this major is a Qualifying Major:

Modern History


Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations
Faculty of Arts

This major must be completed as part of an award. The general requirements for the award must be satisfied in order to graduate.

Requirements for the Major:

Completion of a minimum of 8 units of study including the following prescribed units:

Units of study

two of
History Now! (1)
The World Since 1945: An Australian Perspective (1)
An Introduction to Big History (1)
After the Black Death: Europe 1348-1789 (1)

Making History Work (1)
Indigenous-Settler Histories: Comparative Contexts (1)
From the Beats to Big Brother: Popular Culture Since the 1950s (1)
Shock and Awe: A History of the Postmodern World (1)

two of
ANZAC: Australians at War (1)
Australian History since 1901 (1)
War and Peace in World History (1)
Twentieth Century Europe (1)
The Age of Revolution: Europe from the Reign of Terror to the First World War (1)


Units marked with a C are Capstone units.
Overview and Aims of the Program Studying modern history gives students a rich perspective on the evolution of today’s complex and rapidly evolving world. History is the study of the past and its interpretation in the present. Historians make sense of the past using a wide range of written, oral, digital, visual and material sources. Using a range of approaches, they examine past events, processes and relationships, interpreting their origins, significance and consequences. History is used to enrich our understanding of the contemporary world by considering continuity, change, contingency and context. It provides a perspective on change over time that can inform current decision-making and policy contexts.

The Modern History OUA program at Macquarie University offers diverse programs of study, with particular strengths in Australian, World, and European History. Students can study European history from the early modern period through to the present day, the full breadth of Australian history from pre-colonisation through to the late twentieth-century, and a diverse range of World History subjects, which give broad cross-cultural perspectives on different themes. Modern history units are delivered through a combination of recorded lectures, online discussions, quizzes, and written activities. These teaching methods depend on student’s ability to read critically and efficiently, to conduct research and analyse their findings.

This major will help students develop an understanding of change management, critical and analytical thinking, communication skills, cultural awareness, problem-solving, social engagement and sound judgement. These equip students for a range of challenging and exciting career opportunities in the fields of diplomacy and foreign affairs, journalism, travel and tourism, heritage and cultural agencies, administration, research and education. In addition, history units complement those in most other disciplines, especially politics, law, international studies, education and the social sciences.
Graduate Capabilities

The Graduate Capabilities Framework articulates the fundamentals that underpin all of Macquarie’s academic programs. It expresses these as follows:

Cognitive capabilities
(K) discipline specific knowledge and skills
(T) critical, analytical and integrative thinking
(P) problem solving and research capability
(I) creative and innovative

Interpersonal or social capabilities
(C) effective communication
(E) engaged and ethical local and global citizens
(A) socially and environmentally active and responsible

Personal capabilities
(J) capable of professional and personal judgement and initiative
(L) commitment to continuous learning

Program Learning Outcomes By the end of this program it is anticipated you should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of at least one period or culture of the past.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of a variety of conceptual approaches to interpreting the past.
3. Sensitively contribute to contemporary debates with an informed and critical understanding of the relationship between past and present.
4. Identify and interpret a wide variety of secondary and primary materials.
5. Examine historical issues by undertaking research according to the methodological and ethical conventions of the discipline.
6. Analyse historical evidence, scholarship and changing representations of the past.
7. Construct an evidence-based argument or narrative in oral or written form.
8. Identify and reflect critically on the knowledge and skills developed in their study of history.

External Benchmarks
The program learning outcomes of this program have been benchmarked against the Threshold Learning Outcomes for History devised and endorsed by the Federal Office of Learning and Teaching:
Learning and Teaching Methods Modern history staff teach through a combination of online tutorials and discussion forums, lectures, unit design, setting of reading materials, and designing of assessment tasks. Students learn in Modern History through active reading, participating in online discussions, listening to lectures (and taking notes), and completing assessment tasks. Further information on these methods is outlined below:
• Lectures are where staff outline the broad parameters of a topic, mount an argument about the week’s subject, and orient students in the field under discussion. Lectures are recorded so that they are available for external students and those who cannot attend the lecture in person. Many lecturers create visual accompaniments for their lectures, which are also usually available online. Students learn in lectures through acquisition and the production of lecture notes (the ability to select and organise information in this way is a valuable skill in comprehending historical interpretations).
• Online tutorials and discussion forums are arguably the most important site of learning and teaching in Modern History. Building on a foundation of understanding acquired through listening to lectures and completion of the required readings, tutorials are facilitated by staff and usually include a range of learning activities, including quizzes, discussion of readings, working with primary sources, document analysis, and engagement with the tutor. Students learn in tutorials and discussion forums through close interaction with primary and secondary texts, evaluating and extending their understanding of the material through discussion and activities, and presenting their work in verbal and non-written forms.
• Reading: Units are designed around lectures and discussion forums, and readings are core to effective learning in tutorials. Staff select readings for a range of reasons: modelling the kinds of work we expect of our students; offering clear and often competing arguments we wish students to engage with; survey texts designed to help students orient themselves in a field. Students need to read these texts each week – not just to gain a deeper understanding of the topic, but because comprehending historical interpretations is a foundational skill in Modern History, and most assessment tasks build on this skill.
• Assessment tasks: assessments are designed and weighted by staff (in line with university policies) to meet several criteria: to address unit and program level learning outcomes; to offer tasks which address different learning styles and strengths; and to develop and extend student’s skills as they progress through the Modern History Major. Assessment is discussed in greater detail below.
Assessment Assessment in Modern History is designed to evaluate student’s ability to meet the learning outcomes of individual units, and thus to also meet the overall program level learning outcomes in the Modern History Major. Student learning is assessed through a range of tasks, including:

• short research tasks
• document/primary source analysis
• research task (usually a scaffolded preliminary to a longer research essay)
• constructive contribution to online discussions
• weekly tutorial quizzes assessing comprehension of the lectures and tutorials
• research essays
• blog posts
• exams (take-home)
• book reviews
• research proposals
• ‘authentic’ tasks: eg. write a speech for a government minister, prepare a submission to the Australian War Memorial

Assessment tasks vary across the program but are broadly aligned at 100, 200 and 300 level so that students develop common skills as they progress through the Major, regardless of their area of specialisation. This common assessment focus is as follows:

• 100 level: identifying and interpreting historical evidence
• 200 level: constructing interpretive claims about the past
• 300 level: creating and answering a research question

The methods used to address these common foci are diverse: for example, at 100 level, the task could be a document analysis, a comparative analysis of two different types of primary sources, or analysis of review/s of an online heritage exhibition. In 300 level units students are required to creatively approach or devise research questions. In HST380: Making History: Capstone Unit, they are required to construct a detailed research proposal: students devise their own research question with varying levels of assistance, including framing inquiry through the proposal process, developing the proposal through engagement with weekly historiographical research and discussion, as well as through active engagement with the convenor who also provides suggestions for sources, potential readings and/or key historiographical works. This proposal is designed as a formative task which supports the major assessment task, a research essay based on the student’s own research question.
Recognition of Prior Learning

Macquarie University may recognise prior formal, informal and non-formal learning for the purpose of granting credit towards, or admission into, a program. The recognition of these forms of learning is enabled by the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Policy (see and its associated Procedures and Guidelines. The RPL pages contain information on how to apply, links to registers, and the approval processes for recognising prior learning for entry or credit.

Information can be found at:

Support for Learning

Macquarie University aspires to be an inclusive and supportive community of learners where all students are given the opportunity to meet their academic and personal goals. The University offers a comprehensive range of free and accessible student support services which include academic advice, counselling and psychological services, advocacy services and welfare advice, careers and employment, disability services and academic skills workshops amongst others. There is also a bulk billing medical service located on campus.

Further information can be found at

Campus Wellbeing contact details:
Phone: +61 2 9850 7497

Program Standards and Quality

The program is subject to an ongoing comprehensive process of quality review in accordance with a pre-determined schedule that complies with the Higher Education Standards Framework. The review is overseen by Macquarie University's peak academic governance body, the Academic Senate and takes into account feedback received from students, staff and external stakeholders.

Graduate Destinations and Employability Employers in business, industry and government praise history graduates for their knowledge and skills in problem-solving, research and communication. Completing a major in Modern History develops students’ abilities to assess evidence about past events, analyse problems, consider different perspectives, make considered and evidence-based judgements, formulate well-developed arguments, and to communicate effectively in a range of forms. It provides students with a framework to understand the contemporary world.

A Major in Modern History prepares students for postgraduate study and professional research roles in a range of organisations. It also gives students the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue careers in a range of areas, including:

• teaching history in schools
• museums, archives and libraries
• heritage management
• historical tourism
• journalism and media
• politics and public policy
• law
• public service
• land rights/native title research
• professional historical consultancy and research assistance
• foreign affairs and intelligence
• arts administration
Assessment Regulations

This program is subject to Macquarie University regulations, including but not limited to those specified in the Assessment Policy, Academic Honesty Policy, the Final Examination Policy and relevant University Rules. For all approved University policies, procedures, guidelines and schedules visit

Inherent requirements are the essential components of a course or program necessary for a student to successfully achieve the core learning outcomes of a course or program. Students must meet the inherent requirements to complete their Macquarie University course or program.

Inherent requirements for Macquarie University programs fall under the following categories:

Physical: The physical inherent requirement is to have the physical capabilities to safely and effectively perform the activities necessary to undertake the learning activities and achieve the learning outcomes of an award.

Cognition: The inherent requirement for cognition is possessing the intellectual, conceptual, integrative and quantitative capabilities to undertake the learning activities and achieve the learning outcomes of an award.

Communication: The inherent requirement for communication is the capacity to communicate information, thoughts and ideas through a variety of mediums and with a range of audiences.

Behavioural: The behavioural inherent requirement is the capacity to sustain appropriate behaviour over the duration of units of study to engage in activities necessary to undertake the learning activities and achieve the learning outcomes of an award.

For more information see

2019 Unit Information

When offered:
S1 Day
Permission of Executive Dean of Faculty
HSC Chinese, CHN113, CHN148