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Unit Overview


Australia's history has been characterised by movement and mobility—its historical origins are often said to date from the arrival of the European explorers, followed by convicts transported to Australian shores, and subsequent waves of migrants from Europe, Asia, the Pacific and elsewhere fleeing war-torn homelands, poverty, or seeking to make new lives. Indigenous history is also marked by mobility, from the originary journeys made by ancestral beings, to the experience of forced removal and displacement from country in the wake of colonisation. Today, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are highly mobile, criss-crossing the land for work, pleasure and obligation. Yet, while such histories have been written about as experiences of emigration, expulsion and exile, by looking at individual lives we can see that such movements also produced and enabled new intimacies and relationships. Recent histories suggest that without built environments convicts and officers rubbed shoulders, explorers and Aboriginal people curiously studied one another, and the frontier was marked by cross-cultural sexual and marital relations, coerced and consensual. This unit investigates the desires, ambitions, ideas and policies which motivated some to travel, and resulted in the forced removal from their homelands for others. How has social mobility been enabled by such movements? What do individual and family stories of journey and the formation of new intimate relationships reveal about Australia's shared history? What approaches can facilitate such intimate histories?

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 2AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the History; Indigenous Knowledge, History and Heritage major sequences
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) describe and assess the basic methodological issues characteristic of the discipline of History; (2) identify and evaluate the methodological problems posed by the study of movement and mobility in Australian history; (3) analyse a range of historical material of various kinds for essay assessments using appropriate methodologies; (4) relate their independent interpretations to complex historiographical debates over Australian and Indigenous-Australian history; (5) present advanced arguments in both written and oral assessments using the conventions of the historical discipline; and (6) demonstrate a detailed understanding of the connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in history.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) participation; (2) a report; and (3) a research 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)
Associate Professor Jacqueline Van Gent
Unit rules
a Level 2 History unit
or EURO2201 European Civilisation
or GEND2902 Men and Masculinities in History
or any Level 2 unit from the Indigenous Knowledge, History and Heritage major
Contact hours
lectures: 1 hour per week
Tutorials: 1 hour per week (over 10 weeks from week 2)
  • 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.