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Major: Indigenous Studies

Major Details

Indigenous Studies


Department of Indigenous Studies
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 24 credit points including the following prescribed units:

Credit points

100 level

Introducing Indigenous Australia (3)

200 level

Culture, Creation and Characters: Indigenous Australian Literature (3)
6cp from
Australian Film and Television (3)
The Ecological Humanities: Australians and their Environment (3)
Indigenous-Settler Relations from 1750 (3)
Australian Environmental History (3)

300 level

Indigenous Research Matters (6)
6cp from
Contemporary Indigenous Australia (3)
Racialised Punishment and the Construction of Nation (3)
Aboriginal Education Issues and Approaches (3)
Australian Fiction in the Digital Age (3)
Rethinking Resource Management (3)
Indigenous Peoples and the Law (3)
Activism and Social Change (3)


Units marked with a C are Capstone units.
Additional Information
Overview and Aims of the Program The Indigenous Studies major has been developed by staff from the Department of Indigenous Studies. Our academic staff are all Indigenous Australians with a variety of discipline backgrounds ranging from Education to Psychology and Human Geography. The units in our major are taught by Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics with relevant discipline expertise. Indigenous Studies is a diverse, interdisciplinary area of study, drawing on a large and interesting body of global literature. Our program of study is underpinned by two key principles; Indigenous people’s as agents of our own destinies within the post-colonial era, and the valuing of Indigenous perspectives and voices. Our curriculum has a strong focus on, Indigenous research methodologies and contemporary Indigenous Australia. The aim of our program is to enhance learners’ knowledge of Australian and other Indigenous societies and cultures, and ensure that students are confident and competent to work effectively and ethically with Indigenous peoples.
Many of the units in program are offered in both on-campus and off-campus mode.
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:

Knowledge and Understanding
Identify the key concepts and theoretical approaches of the discipline of Indigenous Studies (k,e,c,)
Recognise the role of Indigenous perspectives and knowledge and the emerging, multidisciplinary nature of Indigenous Studies (k,t,e)
Explain the role of colonisation in shaping contemporary Indigenous Australia (k,t,e,c)

Skills and Capabilities
Interpret and analyse a wide variety of primary and secondary sources relevant to Indigenous Studies (k,t,I,c, p,e,j,l)
Communicate Indigenous Studies perspectives and knowledge effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences using appropriately selected written, oral and visual means (k,e,j,p)
Critically reflect on the knowledge and skills developed during the program of study (t,l)
Application of Knowledge and Skills
Analyse and resolve Indigenous Studies problems using ethical, methodological and research conventions of the discipline (k,t, i,p,l,j,a,e)
Collaborate effectively with Indigenous peoples and communities (k,t,I,c,,a,j)to assess group-based learning, verbal communication skills and critical thinking
Learning and Teaching Methods The focus of our major is Indigenous Australian peoples, histories and ontologies, with an emphasis in the later stages of our program on working effectively and researching ethically in Indigenous contexts. The program is carefully sequenced to ensure that students engage with and understand key theoretical concepts and approaches of the discipline of Indigenous Studies before progressing to application of skills and consideration of practice in final year units including the capstone, research focused unit. We emphasise the multidisciplinary nature of the discipline by exposing students to Indigenous Studies theory from a range of disciplines as well as having units of study from disciplines outside of our department and faculty, available as options.
There is a focus in first year particularly on knowledge acquisition, in keeping with the program learning outcomes related to identifying the key theoretical approaches of the discipline, recognising Indigenous perspectives and explaining the role of colonisation in shaping the contemporary nation. We aim to foster students’ ability to recognise Indigenous perspectives, through exposure to Indigenous and non-Indigenous created primary and secondary sources and in our first year foundation unit students are taught by Indigenous teachers and elders (exposing students who have not met any Aboriginal people to a range of perspectives). Units within the program encourage students to critically reflect and in first year tutors model reflection using a four stage process, with student learning fostered specifically in the introductory unit through regular weekly reflection activities.
Teaching in the second year of the major has a stronger emphasis on practice and ways of collaborating effectively with Indigenous peoples and communities in specific contexts, which are aligned with the skills based program learning outcomes, including communicating with a variety of audiences and interpreting discipline based data. Student learning is fostered through discussion and focused on inquiry, particularly how they as (mostly) non-Indigenous graduates might contribute to Indigenous affairs. Teaching in third year is focused on real-world problem solving and students will have opportunities to analyse and resolve Indigenous Studies problems using ethical, methodological and research conventions of the discipline. Learning is the capstone unit will involve students identifying an issue and developing a proposal to address the problem. Whilst students have multiple opportunities to meet program learning outcomes, there is an emphasis in third year on the application program learning outcomes, related to working effectively with Indigenous peoples and communities.
Units within the Indigenous Studies major use a variety of teaching methods to foster student learning. Broadly most of our units will include some large group teaching through lectures and some small group teaching in tutorial groups of up to 25 students. Staff teaching in large group format, use a range of techniques to foster student learning, including breakout discussion groups and short film clips, which encourage student interaction and to foster engagement and inquiry. Students engage in discussions, reading and writing exercises, oral presentations, and collaborative work during tutorials.
In summary teaching and learning includes:
large group lectures (acquisition/discussion/collaboration)
tutorials (inquiry/collaboration, production)
engaging with a range of primary and secondary texts (practice/production)
meeting with Elders (inquiry, practice)
Reflective writing (reflection, practice)
Assessment Assessment tasks require students to engage with both the relevant, discipline specific theoretical concepts as well as consider how as graduates they might practice effectively in a range of Indigenous Australian contexts. We seek to develop and extend students’ written and oral communication skills as well as discipline based research and inquiry techniques. Students are encouraged to read widely, particularly, but not exclusively, the work of Indigenous scholars. Our 100 and 200 level units include an early assessment activity designed to engage students' interest but also to provide an opportunity for teaching staff to provide early feedback to students on their learning. In later years students are encouraged to think critically, reason carefully and justify their intellectual positions, in keeping with the application program learning outcomes. All units have progressive assessment spread over the semester, with no assessment weighted at more than 50%. Our teachers set a range of assessment tasks, including written, oral, creative and project based, to allow students to excel and extend skills in their areas of strength but also to develop in areas where they are less confident or adept.
Our assessment tasks are carefully scaffolded and sequenced. Assessments in the 100 level units, for example, are focused on knowledge acquisition and deep learning, so there are is an essay based task which students must undertake literature searches and read and synthesis content, in order to successfully complete the task. This task fosters critical thinking and writing skills. Thorough feedback is given, related to content and written expression where necessary. We also introduce the notion of reflective practice early in first year. Reflection is actively modelled for students and each week in tutorials there is time allocated for reflective writing, fostering the development of metacognitive skills.
In all units there are a variety of assessment task types, to provide for different learning styles and to encourage students to develop additional skills across areas such as comprehension, listening, oral and written communication as well as exercising judgement and critical thinking. Learners have multiple opportunities to meet program learning outcomes, through both independent and group tasks. In the final year units, there is a greater emphasis on practice and inquiry focused learning, with small collaborative assignment tasks and the opportunity for peer review of work. For example the capstone unit is built around the development of a research project. In collaboration with their teacher, students have to choose a topic of inquiry, and develop a research proposal and undertake a small project. This brings together all of the program learning outcomes with particular emphasis on the application skills of ethical practice when working and researching with Indigenous Australians.
Assessment tasks include:
oral presentations
research essays,
reflective journals
creative writing
book reviews
preparing wikipedia entries
developing biographies.
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. 

Domestic Students
For undergraduate RPL information visit
For domestic postgraduate RPL information visit

International Students
For RPL information visit

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 Given the continued national focus on equity for Indigenous Australian a major or minor in Indigenous Studies would be a strong addition to most academic programs. Graduate opportunities are available in a wide variety of public sector, private employment and no-Government organisations. many of these organisations will either work directly with, or make policy for Indigenous Australians. Increasingly organisations are focusing on Indigenous employment for example. Too few Australians have skills in working with Indigenous Australians meaning that Indigenous Studies graduates will be well-placed to fill this gap.
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

2017 Unit Information

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