Examine the history of Australia from the deep past to the

2.1 Subject descriptionThis subject examines the history of Australia from the deep past to the contemporary moment. Within this, we investigate issues such as Indigenous cultures and societies, contact and conflict, the search for Australian identity, economic development, political movements and achievements, immigration, race relations, cultural and social changes, and the ways in which Australia has influenced by internal factors and international affairs.2.2 Subject learning outcomes1. an understanding of historical issues and problems which have affected the development of Australian culture and society;2. an understanding of the role played by historians in shaping perceptions of Australia’s past;3. skills in the reading and interpretation of historical evidence.2.3 Learning and teaching in this subjectIn addition to deepening your understanding of Australia’s past, this subject is designed to help you develop skills in the critical analysis of historical sources and interpretations, and in the process of gaining an appreciation about the nature of evidence and its applications. In our ‘post truth’ age of ‘fake news’, these are essential skills for all thinking people.While the past is accessible through many different forms (material culture, geography, land use, built environments, language, beliefs, literature, art, oral traditions, myth, legend, memory, the internet, and many others), we focus on two main types: primary sources and secondary sources. Documents are a useful way to think through the distinction between these.Primary sources are commonly (though not exclusively) created at the time of an event, episode or epoch. For example, more than 160,000 convicts were transported to Australia between 1788 and 1868. Each convict generated court and sentencing records. The more than 800 shiploads of those transported to Australia generated another data-set. Upon arrival, more records were created, including documents relating to terms of incarceration, any re-offending, conditions of release, and so on. These primary sources constitute rich information that is relevant to historians.Similarly, the National Archives in Canberra has digitised the enlistment and service records of more than 440,000 Australian service personnel from the First World War, 1914-1918 (see: www.naa.gov). Like the convicts records of the previous century, the war records are primary sources. And like the convict system, the war generated a plethora of personal writing, in the form of journals, diaries and letters. Also primary sources, these may be read alongside, in conjunction with and sometimes against the grain of official records.As detailed as primary sources may be, it is important to bear in mind that they were created for purposes other than historical research and that they are, into the present, surviving fragments from an extensive and complex past. For these reasons, among others, historians need to know something about the provenance (that is origins, authorship and intended purpose) of the sources they study and how and why these sources may have survived the passage of time into the present. Key considerations of any historical inquiry, therefore, include what do the sources reveal, why were they created, and how and why might they have survived?