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KNL1002 Torres Strait Islander Studies

Semester 2, 2012 On-campus Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Arts
School or Department : Centre for Australian Indigenous Knowledges
Version produced : 30 December 2013

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;
  2. understand the history of the Torres Strait before and after colonisation;
  3. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of Torres Strait Islander identity, cultures and society within a contemporary cultural context;
  4. explain a respect for, and understanding of, Torres Strait Islander peoples' cultures, traditional languages, lifestyles/customs and attitudes;
  5. discuss awareness and appreciation of the socio-cultural, political and economic positon of Torres Strait Islander people in contemporary society;
  6. demonstrate understanding of Torres Strait Islander peoples' desires for access to and participation in, education which does not deny their heritage;
  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;
  8. identify current policies and practices which relate to Torres Strait Islander peoples and their interaction with the wider Australian community;
  9. demonstrate cultural literacy skills by exploring aspects of Torres Strai Islander cultures, identity, social context, political context, and relevant government policies;
  10. demonstrate written communication skills by preparing and submitting an academic essay;
  11. demonstrate academic and professional literacy skills by preparing and submitting a critical reflection journal.


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, S and Graham, T(Producers) 1994, Land Bilong Islanders-a background to the historic Mabo ruling, Ronin Films, Canberra.
  • Davis, R 2004, Woven histories, dancing lives: Torres Strait Islander identity, culture and history, Acton, ACT.
  • Loos, N & Mabo, K 1996, Edward Koik Mabo-his struggle for land rights, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Queensland.
  • Nakata, M 2007, Disciplining the savages: savaging the disciplines, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra.

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 17 Aug 2012
ESSAY AND REFLECTION 40 40 05 Oct 2012
MOD 5 SUMMARY 20 20 26 Oct 2012

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 maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded.

  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 total weighted marks available for the course.

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

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

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations

  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 despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to USQ within 24 hours if required by the Examiner.

  3. In accordance with University Policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. If electronic submission of assessments is specified for the course, students will be notified of this in the course Introductory Book and on the USQ Study Desk. All required electronic submission must be made through the Assignment Drop Box located on the USQ Study Desk for the course, unless directed otherwise by the examiner of the course. The due date for an electronically submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.55pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  5. If the method of assessment submission is by written, typed or printed paper-based media students should (i) submit to the Faculty Office for students enrolled in the course in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail to the USQ for students enrolled in the course in the external mode. The due date for the assessment is the date by which a student must (i) submit the assessment for students enrolled in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail the assessment for students enrolled in the external mode.

  6. The Faculty will NOT normally accept submission of assessments by facsimile or email.

  7. Students who do not have regular access to postal services for the submission of paper-based assessments, or regular access to Internet services for electronic submission, or are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements prior to the submission date.

  8. Students who do not have regular access to postal services for the submission of paper-based assessments, or regular access to Internet services for electronic submission, or are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements prior to the submission date.

  9. 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).

  10. Students may be assigned an "Incomplete" grade to signify that all the requirements of the course have not yet been met. Students who are graded "I" can pass the course by successfully completing such additional work as prescribed by the examiner by a given date. Students who have been awarded an IM, ISM, IDM or IDB grade must access information regarding further work to be completed, in the Student Centre of U Connect. The Grades Page in the Student Centre contains information about further work to be completed. Students who have not completed the additional work to the satisfaction of the examiner by the given date will receive the appropriate Failing grade.

Other requirements

  1. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in the course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect to achieve the same grades as those students who do possess them.