Environmental History of Australia

Subject 136-213 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2009.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: This is an intensive course. Twenty-four hours of lectures and twelve hours of tutorials during 15-29 January 2007
Total Time Commitment: 2.5 contact hours/week, 6 additional hours/week. Total of 8.5 hours per week.
Prerequisites: Usually 75 points of first year study across any discipline areas.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Professor Janet McCalman


Subject Overview: This subject will examine the forces which shaped the Australian environment before colonisation, and modern scientific debates over Aboriginal impacts on the environment. Taking as a central theme the role of science and technology, it will examine British/European attitudes towards lands they 'discovered', and the consequent treatment of the Australian land mass, flora and fauna. Students should complete the subject with a knowledge of such issues as the contribution of agricultural science to development in Australia; the impact on the environment of European means of production; the technology of urban development and the environmental impact of urban growth; responses to the landscape as reflected in the arts, and the desire to transform the landscape to conform to European perceptions; the scientific and cultural debates over optimum population size; and the evolution of conservation and environmental consciousness and action in Australia. There will be a special study of Melbourne water - potable, waste and streams.
Objectives: Students who successfully complete this subject will
  • demonstrate a general knowledge of scientific debates over the impact of Aborigines on the Australian natural environment prior to European settlement, and of Europeans since 1788;
  • develop an appreciation of the main scientific, intellectual, philosophical, cultural and aesthetic influences on the attitudes and responses of Europeans to the Australian landscape, flora, fauna and indigenous human beings;
  • demonstrate an awareness of the impact of European economic activity and technology on the land and its inhabitants;
  • demonstrate an awareness of the principal elements in debates over environmental exploitation and assertions of conservation principles;
  • gain experience in independent research;
  • a further aim of the subject is to develop broader skills in historical understanding and analysis of debates. Students will be exposed in this subject to arguments among historians and scientists, and will be expected to consider why they differ and how they can make your own judgements about their arguments. They will be asked to learn how to read and interpret documents of various kinds as historical sources. They will be expected to develop an understanding of a variety of environmental and philosophical concepts. Finally, they will be expected to exercise the technical skills involved in writing history.
Assessment: A fieldwork short essay of 500 words 10% and a documentary exercise of 500 words 10% (due soon after the end of teaching), a research essay of 3000 words 70% (due four weeks after the end of teaching), class participation and contribution 10%. A hurdle requirement of attendance at six tutorials and one fieldwork trip.
Prescribed Texts: A subject reader will be available for purchase from the University Book Shop.
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • develop skills in written and oral communication;
  • conduct independent research;
  • make appropriate use of primary and secondary sources in mounting an argument;
  • form defensible judgements based on a critical evaluation of conflicting arguments.
Notes: Formerly available as 131-279/379/064. Students who have completed 131-279/379/064 are not eligible to enrol in this subject. For science third year, see HPSC30003 (Environmental History of Australia (Sc3)) . The subject dates and HECS/course fee census date for this subject change each year. Check your enrolment record for the correct census date for this subject.
Related Course(s): Diploma in Arts (Australian Studies)
Diploma in Arts (Environmental Studies)
Diploma in Arts (History and Philosophy of Science
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Australian Studies
Australian Studies
Australian Studies Major
Environmental Geographies, Politics and Cultures
Environmental Studies Major
History & Philosophy of Science
History && Philosophy of Science Major
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science

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