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KNL1002 Torres Strait Islander Studies

Semester 2, 2011 On-campus Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Arts
School or Department : Centre for Australian Indigenous Knowledges

Contents on this page


Examiner: Bill McCann
Moderator: John Williams-Mozley


Education involves, in part, the transmission of the culture of a society. Australian society is fortunate in that it supports a variety of cultural groups, each with its own system of beliefs, ways of doing things and ways of communicating (Department of Education, Queensland, 1:94). Furthermore, Australia has two cultural groups, which can claim Indigenous status - the Australian Aborigines and the peoples of Torres Strait. All Australians need to have an understanding and appreciation of the diversity of cultures within Australia and how they interact. Torres Strait Islander cultures differ greatly from Aboriginal cultures and societies. Hence, a study of Torres Strait Islander's unique and diverse cultures and societies provides an avenue for the development and consolidation of an understanding and appreciation of all peoples, their cultures and societies. The course has three major categories that have been developed from a central core. The core is the presentation of knowledge and experiences through Torres Strait Islander perspectives and viewpoints. In so doing concepts may be presented in a manner that differs from the learner's understanding. The aim of presenting a Torres Strait Islander perspective is to correct the imbalance in knowledge and understanding of Australia's history and Indigenous groups, which has predominated since invasion.


The content and structure of the course emphasize the need for students to adopt a greater educational stance and understanding in the area of Torres Strait Island Studies. Hence, the course seeks to broaden the awareness of students of the Torres Strait Islands and its peoples on the basis of a knowledge and understanding of, and empathy towards, those people who are the original inhabitants of the Torres Strait. Throughout the course, four major dimensions will be explored: The history and colonisation of the Torres Strait,Torres Strait Islander social, economic and legislative-political structures, Policies and practices in relation to education for Torres Strait Islander peoples, Significant Torres Strait Island cultures: customs, languages, protocols, and the Arts.


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

  1. identify geographical, geological and maritime features of the Torres Strait as part of Queensland and Australia (Assessment 1)
  2. understand the history of the Torres Strait before and after colonisation (Assessment 1)
  3. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of Torres Strait Islander identity, cultures and society within a contemporary cultural context (Assessment 1,2 and 3)
  4. explain a respect for, and understanding of, Torres Strait Islander peoples' cultures, traditional languages, lifestyles/customs and attitudes (Assessment 1,2 and 3)
  5. discuss awareness and appreciation of the socio-cultural, political and economic positon of Torres Strait Islander people in contemporary society (Assessment 2)
  6. demonstrate understanding of Torres Strait Islander peoples' desires for access to and participation in, education which does not deny their heritage (Assessment 2)
  7. suggest strategies for increasing the involvement of community-based Torres Strait Islander people and other professionals (i.e. knowledge providers) in the Torres Strait community (Assessment 2 and 3)
  8. identify current policies and practices which relate to Torres Strait Islander peoples and their interaction with the wider Australian community (Assessment 2 and 3)
  9. demonstrate cultural literacy skills by exploring aspects of Torres Strai Islander cultures, identity, social context, political context, and relevant government policies (Assessment 1,2 and 3)
  10. demonstrate written communication skills by preparing and submitting an academic essay (Assessment 1)
  11. demonstrate academic and professional literacy skills by preparing and submitting a critical reflection journal (Assessment 2)


Description Weighting(%)
1. The history and colonisation of the Torres Strait 20.00
2. Torres Strait Islander social and cultural customs - Ailan Kastom 20.00
3. Socio-economic conditions in the Torres Strait 20.00
4. Torres Strait Island legislation and politics 20.00
5. Communications in Torres Strait - working with Torres Strait Islander people 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.
  • Beckett, J 1989, Torres Strait Islanders: custom and colonialism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Connolly, Sharon and Graham, Trevor (Producers) 1994, Land Bilong Islanders-a background to the historic Mabo ruling, Ronin Films, Canberra.
  • Haddon, AC et al 1908, Sociology, magic and religion of the Eastern Islanders, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
    (1908 Vol 6.)
  • Hall, EA 1991, Aborigines in the defence of Australia, Australian National University Press, Sydney.
    (D Hall (ed).)
  • Loos, N and Mabo, K 1996, Edward Koiki Mabo-his struggle for land rights, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Queensland.
  • Mullins, S 1994, Torres Strait-a history of colonial occupation and culture contact 1864-1867, Central Queensland Press, Rockhampton, Queensland.
  • Nakata, M 2000, Multiliteracies-literacy learning and the design of social futures, MacMillan Publishers Australia Pty Ltd, South Yarra, Victoria.
    (B Cope and M Kalantzis (ed).)
  • Nakata, M 2007, Disciplining the savages: savaging the disciplines, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra.
  • Ray, SH, Seligman, CG, Wilkin, A, Pimm, G & Haddon, AC 1907, Linguistics.
    (1907 Vol 4.)
  • Rivers, WHR, Physiology and psychology, introduction and vision.
    (Appendix Seligman, CG. Part 2 Vol 2.)
  • Sharp, N 1993, Stars of Tagai-the Torres Strait Islanders, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra.
  • Shnukal, A 1998, Broken-an introduction to the Creole language of Torres Strait, Pacific Linguistics.
    (Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra.)
  • Singe, J 1989, The Torres Strait-people and history, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Queensland.
  • Wilson, L 1993, Kerkar Lu-contemporary artefacts of the Torres Strait Islanders, Department of Education Publishing Services, Queensland.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 30.00
Directed Study 39.00
Private Study 96.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ESSAY 40 40 19 Aug 2011 (see note 1)
ESSAY AND REFLECTION 40 40 07 Oct 2011 (see note 2)
MOD 5 SUMMARY 20 20 28 Oct 2011 (see note 3)

  1. 2000 WORDS
  2. 2000 WORDS
  3. 1600 WORDS

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to actively participate in all classes scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise 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 satisfactorily complete the assignments, students must gain at least 50% of the marks available for each of the assignments.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    An assignment, submitted after the due date without an extension approved by the Examiner, will attract a penalty of 5% of the assigned mark for each day (or part thereof that the assignment is late).

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of a passing grade for the course, students must obtain at least 50% of the total marks available for the course. Students who do not qualify for a Passing grade may, at the discretion of the Examiner, be assigned additional work to demonstrate to the Examiner that they have achieved the standard required for a Pass. It is expected that such students will have gained at least 45% of the total marks available for all assessment items.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    Final grades for students will be determined by the addition of the marks obtained in each assessment item, weighted as in the Assessment Details section. Marking criteria will be provided in course material as mark sheets /guides or as part of assignment specifications.

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

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

  8. University Student Policies:
    Please refer to the USQ Handbook regarding overall course assessment information. Further assessment information for this course is in the Course Introductory book.

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 despatch 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.

  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.

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. In accordance with the University's Assignment Extension Policy (Regulation 5.6.1), the Examiner of a course may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances. This policy may be found in the USQ Handbook, and the Distance Education Student Guide for new on-campus students. All students are advised to study and follow the guidelines associated with this policy.