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


This unit aims to provide Mathematics educators with greater depth and breadth of both content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, and to add enrichment to teaching and learning experiences when they are addressing the Australian Curriculum—Mathematics. To meet these aims, this unit explores the history of mathematics through the lenses of the people, places, topics and themes key to the development of the subject. The unit provides a unified view and deep appreciation of mathematics by approaching the subject through its history.

The topics relate directly to the Australian Curriculum—Mathematics F-10 strands (number, algebra, measurement, geometry, statistics and probability) and Senior Secondary topics (e.g. calculus, complex numbers). The topics are developed through themes that are fundamental to mathematics, that have elementary foundations and strong interconnections, and that reinforce the AC-M General Capabilities and Cross-curriculum Priorities (e.g. measuring the heavens and the earth—literacy; Nature—sustainability; Islamic art—intercultural understanding; and the mathematics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures).

The places (e.g. Greece, Asia, The Middle East) are those that have made mathematics a culturally rich field. The people (e.g. from the 'ancients' to Al Khowarizmi, Descartes, Euler, Gauß, Galois, Ramunujan, Praeger and Tao) are those who have made mathematics a vibrant and relevant discipline.

6 points

Students are able to (1) describe and critique the contributions, and their significance, of world cultures to the development of mathematics; (2) identify key people in the history of mathematics, and evaluate the important and seminal contributions they have made to its development; (3) explore and interpret the way in which mathematics, applied in particular themes, has been foundational in understanding and interpreting the world around us; (4) research and analyse how the fundamental topics in mathematics developed, and their contribution to both the history and current practice of the subject; and (5) apply their knowledge and understanding of the cultural and historical development of mathematics in their teaching and learning planning, programming and activities.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) workshop presentation, and teaching resource; (2) critical analysis and teaching resource; and (3) peer assessment, and review. Further information is available in the unit outline.

To pass this unit, a student must: (a) achieve an overall mark of 50 per cent or higher for the unit; and (b) achieve the requisite requirements(s) or a mark of 50 per cent or greater, whichever is higher and specified in the unit outline, for the workshop presentation, and teaching resource, critical analysis and teaching resource, and peer assessment, and review components.

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

Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Peter Merrotsy
Unit rules
completion of a Bachelor of Science
or a degree containing a significant component of mathematics and its applications,
or enrolment in
the courses MTeach
or GradDipEd, with Mathematics Education and/or Science Education as a major or minor teaching discipline
Contact hours
workshops: 2 hours per week for 10 weeks
The unit is of interest to anyone studying mathematics for its own sake, and is of special relevance to those planning a career in secondary teaching of mathematics. This unit is recommended for those students who are studying Mathematics Education as a major or as a minor teaching discipline. The unit is also recommended for those students who find themselves one unit short of meeting the entry requirements to study Mathematics Education as a major or as a minor teaching discipline.

Boyer, C. B. and Merzbach, U. C. A history of mathematics, 3rd edn: John Wiley & Sons 2011

Stillwell, J. Mathematics and its history, 3rd edn: Springer 2010

  • 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.