Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

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Unit Overview


Australia's relationship to the people of the Indo-Pacific region is recognised as key to Australia's future. Focusing especially on people of Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and Indigenous Australia, this unit considers anthropologists' long-term attempts to understand local processes and relationships across the region via localised ethnography and comparison. Research from this region has generated some of the discipline's most productive, provocative and long-standing debates, some of which have been taken up in other disciplines. These include the political dynamics of exchange systems, religious diversity and syncretism, status and autonomy of women, obligation and debt, precedence and hierarchy, kinship and social organisation, social reproduction, the nature of customary law, land tenure, agrarian transition, colonialism, ethnicity, nationalism and modernity, and their relations to tradition and custom. In this unit, a focus on a selection of these debates allows students to deepen their familiarity with distinctive Asia Pacific sub-regions and how they have shaped our understanding of societies and cultures more generally.

6 points
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in anthropology and sociology as applied to the Asia Pacific region, with a special focus on Oceania and island southeast Asia, including cultural diversity, social inequality, the nature of social relationships and institutions, systems of symbolic meaning, and processes that underpin social and cultural change; (2) demonstrate knowledge of sociological and anthropological studies of the Asia Pacific region, including principal concepts and theories; (3) demonstrate an ability to critically review, analyse, sumarise and synthesise anthropological and sociological research and theory, with a particular focus on theories that have developed out of studies of Oceania and island southeast Asia; (4) demonstrate an ability to formulate, investigate and discuss anthropologically and sociologically informed research questions and develop arguments based on a critical evaluation of evidence; and (5) demonstrate an ability to communicate anthropological and sociological ideas, principles and knowledge to specialist and non-specialist audiences using a range of formats (written, oral, visual etc.).


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) participation/presentation; (2) journal or similar reflective exercise; and (3) essay. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Debra McDougall
Unit rules
any Level 1 ANTH unit
Contact hours
lectures and seminars: up to 3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.