Course Title: Landscapes of Places, Landscapes of the Mind

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Landscapes of Places, Landscapes of the Mind

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2017

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor John Whyte

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 1079

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 37.2

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

Why does the Australian landscape look the way it does? How was Uluru/Ayers Rock formed? Western science describes it as a sandstone rock formation thrust up into existence 600 million years ago during the Petermann Orogeny. The traditional custodians of Uluru, the Aṉangu, know the iconic landmark was created by their ancestors during The Dreaming—an English term used to refer to an Indigenous concept that permeates through all time and informs Indigenous worldviews.

This course will explore the creation of the Australian landscape features using two ways of understanding: Indigenous Knowledge Systems that are embedded in country, with knowledge held by senior custodians, and Western scientific approaches, such as geomorphology—a discipline that considers the origin and evolution of landforms in terms of the physical processes that shape them. The course will also consider the extent to which these explanations either complement or contradict one another.

The ecological and environmental knowledge contained in Indigenous Knowledge Systems can inform the wider public about the significance of sites, and provide sustainable management approaches to improve the health of sacred sites threatened by mining and development, weak heritage protection regimes and inadequate intellectual property rights and protections.

Through this course you will gain an understanding of how Indigenous Knowledge Systems are maintained in the 21st century, and the validity of a two-way approach to seeing, reading, and caring for country.    

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Upon successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Explain introductory level concepts in Indigenous Knowledge Systems
  • Explain introductory level concepts in geomorphology
  • Develop analytical research skills
  • Demonstrate respect for Indigenous Knowledge Systems
  • Reflect upon your own perspectives and assumptions about the landscape
  • Compare and contrast geomorphological explanations and Dreaming explanations about Australian landscape features

Overview of Learning Activities

Learning activities will include interactive workshop activities focusing on group-based discussion. A field trip to a Victorian landscape feature will enable you to have an on country experience and meet Traditional Custodians. Course learning materials will be made available in a range of formats, which may include lectures, guest speakers and online media. In workshops you will also develop academic skills including analytical reading and academic writing. In order to develop your knowledge and skills, you will be expected to participate in interactive discussions and activities and to critically engage with the weekly reading materials. The workshops offer a supportive learning environment where you will have the opportunity to share your knowledge and experiences, and to learn from the knowledge and experience your peers. This peer-based learning may take place through small-group discussions, collaborative work on activities and assessments and/or peer reviewing of research, written work and/or oral presentations.

Overview of Learning Resources

You will be given access to a wide range of resources through a Course Reader or core textbook and also will be able to access to a wide range of online learning tools and content for your course from the student portal, myRMIT, and RMIT Library resources. These resources will include book chapters, journal articles, media articles, lecture notes, bibliographies for supplementary reading, video, and links to external websites.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes.  Assessment will cover both theoretical and practical aspects of your learning. Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.

In this course there are three assessments.  It is essential that you participate fully in the course activities as they have been designed to prepare you for assignments and to meet the intended learning outcomes of the course.  The assessments are comprised of:

Group presentation [20%]

In a small group with other students you will lead the tutorial on the weekly topic based upon selected readings.  First, in a presentation not exceeding 10 minutes, you and your team will identify the key themes, arguments and points of contention on a specified topic or readings.  You will then lead small groups in a discussion of the issues you have raised. This assessment will involve peer assessment from the whole class (10%) and a mark for team organisation and argument from the tutor (10%). (Learning outcomes 1 and 2)

Excursion [30%]

a) Reflective piece of writing (10%).

Following the field trip, you will be required to write a reflection piece about your ‘on country’ experience. This will demonstrate your ability to recognise the depth of knowledge held by Traditional Custodians, respect the importance of two-way knowledge, and articulate your personal relationship to the landscape – how you see, read, and know about a particular site. Word limit: 800. (Learning outcomes 4 and 5)

b) Brochure (20%)

You will produce a brochure informing visitors of the key aspects of an Australian site’s geomorphology, history and significance. A list of sites to choose from will be presented in week four.  In selecting the content for the brochure you will develop analytical research skills. Word limit: 1000. (Learning outcome 2)

Essay on an Australian landscape feature [50%]

In your essay you will demonstrate your ability to critically evaluate geomorphological explanations and Dreamtime explanations in regards to one Australian landscape feature. You must refer to at least six readings from the course reader or from your own research.  Your essay must be fully referenced with in-text references or footnotes, and a reference list. Word limit: 2200. (Learning outcome 6)

Other information

  • If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Disability Liaison Unit if you would like to find out more.
  • A student charter summarises your responsibilities as an RMIT student as well as those of your teachers.
  • Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions which are available for review online:;ID=c15i3ciaq8ca