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


The human species evolved and dispersed across the globe as part of small kin-based groups. Family networks and family histories continue to be a crucial way in which people everywhere understand their place in the world and their connections to others, past and present. Notions of relatedness, ancestry, genealogy and belonging are also highly politicised and frequently invoked in postcolonial, national and legal settings. Rapid advances in genetic technologies and unprecedented global movements of people make it vital to understand the practical and ethical context in which DNA studies, genealogies and family histories are gathered and used for a variety of ends.

This unit gives students the practical skills to construct genealogies and trace family histories while exploring the cultural, legal and ethical concerns that surround these. It covers five main areas: (a) genetics, human diversity and similarity; (b) historical movements, migrations and removals of peoples across the globe; (c) culturally diverse understandings of family, kinship and belonging; (d) how to research and record genealogies, family histories and biographical information; and (e) ethical, political and legal issues surrounding the use and abuse of genealogical information.

The unit is delivered in two distinct parts—a five-week online component consisting of the above five modules, and a one-week face-to-face teaching block based in the Great Southern region, where students undertake practical studies in constructing genealogies, family histories and biographies.

6 points
Not available in 2024UWA (Perth)Face to face
Not available in 2024AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of the genetic diversity and underlying similarities of humans; (2) demonstrate an understanding of the historical and cultural factors that shape the histories of individuals and family groups; (3) demonstrate an understanding of the ethical issues and responsibilities associated with the construction of genealogies and family histories; (4) demonstrate how to research genealogies, family histories and life stories; and (5) communicate their findings both orally and in a written format.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) module quizes; (2) written assignment; and (3) oral/multimedia presentation. 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 Barbara Cook and Yann Toussaint
Incidental fees
Incidental student fees and charges are costs incurred by students as part of their studies at UWA that are in addition to their tuition fees (further information is available here).
Participation in this unit will incur the following incidental fee(s):
field trips, admission fees (estimated cost - 100).
Contact hours
engagement with online material for 5 weeks followed by 1-week face-to-face contact in Albany
Crawley students are invited to enrol in this unit but should be aware that they will be required to attend a one week residential field-based study in Albany. Local student accommodation is available.

This unit requires a minimum of 10 student enrollments to proceed
  • 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.