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KNL1001 Indigenous Cultural Identity

Semester 1, 2011 On-campus Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Arts
School or Department : Centre for Australian Indigenous Knowledges
Version produced : 8 March 2013

Contents on this page


Examiner: Myra Singh
Moderator: John Williams-Mozley


Culture is a principal basis of identity. Individually, within groups, nationally and internationally, identity governs social interaction. Understanding how identity is assigned is a vital part of relating to culture and social organization. Consequently an understanding of culture and society is essential in an examination of cultural identity. To understand contemporary cultural identities, we must examine the historical influences that moulded current realities of particular groups and specifically for Australia, of our two Indigenous cultural groups - Australian Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islanders. Both Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders developed differing cultures within their own groups. This course exposes the learner to parts of the histories of these peoples. Such knowledge contributes to an appreciation of Australia's Indigenous groups' identities with that of all communities and their relationships within multi-cultural Australia. The Australian identity begins with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures: beliefs, histories, languages and lifestyles. Knowledge of culture and society will lead to an understanding of the diversity, complexity and richness of cultures from pre-history to present. Based on archaeological evidence and oral histories, this course investigates the realities of traditional Indigenous identity before and after the European invasion of Australia. The British annexation of this continent, beginning in 1788 and continuing over a period of more than two centuries, led to the subjugation of unique Indigenous Australian identities, replacing them with an identity based on British/European cultures and social structures. Subsequent immigration and the diversification of cultural composition have led to a diminution of national, notional and group identities. It is important to examine how Australians perceive national and group identities. Such notions of identity will affect the intercultural relationships in Australia's future.


The content of this course explores concepts of Indigenous identity at a variety of levels: individual or personal identity, group identity, international perceptions of identity from indigenous and non-indigenous perspectives, an historical view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies and identities, ideas of contemporary Australian identity, and a view to the future. During this course of study, learners will be introduced to: Cultural, social and environmental factors affecting personal and group identity, Events and concepts affecting notions of Australian identity, Indigenous social and cultural identities and how these have been affected by historical events, The effects of media and literature on development of views of Indigenous Australian identities, Possible futures in Australian notions of identity and inclusiveness.


On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

  1. Display an understanding of the roots of their individual identity based on familial and social circumstances. (Assessment 1)
  2. Discuss the impact of culture and social organisation on identity (Assessment 1)
  3. Display knowledge of identity among international indigenous and non-indigenous groups (Assessment 1, 2)
  4. Demonstrate an appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Identity based on concepts of Creation, spirituality, law, kinship structures, language (Assessment 2, 3, 4)
  5. Discuss the maintenance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and identities since invasion, occupation, and subsequent government policies. (Assessment 3, 4)
  6. Relate the importance of literature, art, music and dance to the maintenance of cultural identity. (Assessment 2, 3, 4)
  7. Debate the unique part which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have played in Australian society and history, and their role in the development of contemporary and future Australian identity. (Assessment 2, 3, 4)


Description Weighting(%)
1. Culture and Identity 20.00
2. Influences on Identity 20.00
3. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Identities 20.00
4. Forming Identity 20.00
5. Impacts on Aboriginal Culture and Identities 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • There are no texts or materials required for this course.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Attwood, B 1989, The making of the Aborigines, Allen and Unwin, Sydney.
  • Austin, J (ed) 2001, Culture and identity, Pearson Education Australia, Frenchs Forest, NSW.
  • Dudgeon, P, Oxenham, D & Grogan, G 1997, Learning identities and differences, Curtin Indigenous Research Centre, Perth.
  • Dunbar, R, Knight, C & Power, C (eds) 1999, The evolution of culture: an interdisciplinary view, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ.
  • Hartley, J & McKee, A (eds) 1996, Telling both stories: indigenous Australians and the media, Arts Enterprise, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley, WA.
  • Healey, K (ed) 1993, Indigenous peoples, Spinney Press, Wentworth Falls, NSW.
  • Kidd, W 2001, Culture and identity, Palgrave, Basingstoke.
  • Oxenham, D, Cameron, J, Collard, K, Dudgeon, P, Garvey, D, Kickett, M, Kickett, T & Roberts, J 1999, A dialogue on indigenous identity: warts'n' all, Gunada Press (CIRC), Perth.
  • Sharp, N 1993, Stars of tagai: the Torres Strait islanders, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra.
  • Singe, J 1989, The Torres Strait: people and history, University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 40.00
Directed Study 39.00
Private Study 86.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
PERSONAL IDENTITY DETERMINATIO 10 10 18 Mar 2011 (see note 1)
LITERATURE/MEDIA 30 30 22 Apr 2011 (see note 2)
CRITIQUE OF AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY 40 40 20 May 2011 (see note 3)
REF INDIGENOUS AUS INDENTITY 20 20 10 Jun 2011 (see note 4)

  1. 300 - 500 words
  2. 1000 words
  3. 1750 words
  4. 750 words

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximize their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To complete each of the assessment itmes satisfactorily, students must obtain at least 50% of the marks available for each assessment item.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students must negotiate with the course examiner for extensions prior to the due date of their assignments. Students should read University Regulations 5.6 - Assessment

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the available weighted marks for the summative assessment items.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (or grades) obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    This is not applicable for this course.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the dispatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within five days if required by the Examiner. The student must retain this copy until the grade for this course has been finalised.

  3. The examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances, providing application for said extension is made prior to the due date.

  4. In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a Show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next working day. Students are to note on the assignment cover the date of the public holiday for the Examiner's convenience.

  5. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded the temporary grade: IM (Incomplete - Make up). An IM grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non-directed personal study.

  6. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination); IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  7. When there is more than one marker for a single item of assessment, the distributed patterns and means for the different markers will be compared and marks adjusted if necessary.

  8. The Faculty will normally only accept assessments that have been written, typed or printed on paper-based media.

  9. Marking criteria are provided in course material as mark sheets/guides or as part of assignment specifications.

  10. All assessment items must be submitted and passed.

  11. Summative assessment items will receive a numerical score. Any ungraded assessment requirement will receive a Pass, Fail or Incomplete.

Other requirements

  1. Students will require access to e-mail and Internet access to UConnect for this course.

  2. Students are to use a recognised referencing system as specified by the course examiner.

  3. Students are advised to read all relevant information contained in the course introductory book regarding assessments.