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.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit examines major social, political and economic developments that have taken place in twentieth century Korea, and the challenges and opportunities that these have created for the two Koreas. The unit investigates national identity discourses and ideas of ethnic nationalism in a divided (and increasingly multi-ethnic) country. Special attention is also given to conceptualisations of gender, body and sexuality that draw on both 'traditional' and more recent neo-liberal discourses of the same, and how these inform such increasingly commonplace bodily practices such as cosmetic surgery, as well as cultural representations of gender and subjectivity in popular culture. The unit will also examine how culturally specific social structures, such as generation, kinship and perceived social status, affect patterns of interpersonal communication and relations. Students evaluate how the combination of indigenous philosophical traditions, the legacy of Japanese colonialism, the presence of US military forces on the peninsula, the civil war and the influx of competing Cold War ideologies have shaped contemporary South and North Korean societies.

Throughout the unit, students are encouraged to actively engage in class through interactive interactive workshop tasks and design a short in-depth research project on a topic of their choice but relevant to the themes covered in workshops. This unit is taught entirely in English, and no prior knowledge of Korean language is assumed.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 core unit in the Korean Studies; Korean Studies major sequences
  • Level 3 option in the Asian Studies major sequence
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) compare South Korea's development of 'compressed modernity' with the modernisation and industrialisation processes in Western post-industrial societies; (2) apply this critical understanding to their own societies, thereby demonstrating 'ethical sensitivity towards our diverse and globalised world'; (3) analyse key events and ideologies that informed the development of the two Koreas in the post-war period; (4) explain how gendered discourses of power and class interpellate individuals within society, as well as apply relevant theoretical frameworks to analyse these in the context of a research project assignment; (5) identify a research topic and develop a coherent and convincing line of argument applying key sociological and political theoretical frameworks utilised in the field of Korean Studies; (6) apply knowledge of Korean society acquired through the unit to their Korean language study (where applicable); (7) use a self-reflective approach to devising, developing and delivering an enquiry-based research project; (8) present their findings orally and in academic English; and (9) work collaboratively within a group with an ability to deal with disagreement and conflict to reach consensus (social-emotional learning).


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) online reflective tasks; (2) research project (including research proposal and annotated bibliography); and (3) participation (which may include small group work component). 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)
Caleb Kelso-Marsh
Unit rules
Any Level 2 Humanities
or Social Sciences unit
Successful completion of
KORE3812 Contemporary Korean Society
Contact hours
Up to 3 hours a week over 10 weeks. This is a blended-learning unit.
  • 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.