Course Title: Crises of Power in Australian Political Development

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Crises of Power in Australian Political Development

Credit Points: 12

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global Studies, Soc Sci & Plng


Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009

Course Coordinator: Andrew Scott

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 8246

Course Coordinator

Course Coordinator Location: 48.4.14

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

There are no pre-requisites or assumed knowledge and capabilities.

Course Description

This course is organised as a study of major crisis points in Australian political history from the beginning of the Depression in 1929 to our current, more slow-burning, crisis which includes the parlous state of our representative democracy, the cost of the ‘war on terror’ for civil liberties, and concerns about the legitimacy of government actions on questions of race. It is an invitation to think historically about features of current Australian politics, and an opportunity to probe the collective memory of Australian politics. Crises can be interesting in themselves, as dramatic episodes when passions and conflicts are at their most intense. But they also cast light on longer-term ideas and tensions within Australian political culture. At points of crisis such as occurred in the Depression, or at the time of the dismissal of the Whitlam Government, conceptions of what Australia is, who is part of it, and what it might become, were being debated. In addition to developing a narrative account of these crises, we will also make use of film, biographical and autobiographical accounts and an occasional guest speaker. In looking at what has happened here we will also look at what has happened elsewhere, as this helps to illuminate what might have happened differently here.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

By the end of this course you will:

have developed an understanding of some key points in Australian political history in the twentieth century;

have developed further insights into the nature of politics and history;

have deepened your understanding of contemporary Australian politics by identifying some of the enduring and recurring themes in our political culture;

be able to identify and critically assess the historical and political significance of several crises in Australia’s political history;

be able to further identify and better evaluate competing ideas in Australian politics;

have extended your research and writing ability.

See above.

Overview of Learning Activities

The course involves a three hour interactive workshop each week during Semester. The first part of the workshop will be in a lecture format involving a formal presentation by the Lecturer with opportunities for questions and discussion. Video or DVD presentations will be used regularly to illuminate important historical episodes. Following a 15 minute break, the second part of the workshop will be more student focused and will involve detailed consideration of issues and concepts presented by the lecturer and encountered in your reading. It is expected that you will also read about and follow up those issues and ideas that interest you in your own time.

Overview of Learning Resources

You will be able to use a prescribed text.

Overview of Assessment

You will be able to prepare assessment tasks with a total word length or equivalent of 4,000 words.