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HIS3003 Contemporary America

Semester 2, 2013 On-campus Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Arts
School or Department : School of Humanities and Communication
Version produced : 21 July 2014

Contents on this page


Examiner: Robert Mason
Moderator: Libby Connors


Pre-requisite: Any two courses of History or International Relations


This course will strengthen students’ understanding of contemporary America, through analysis of its recent history. Appreciating the country’s past will enable students to engage critically with contemporary debates regarding American domestic politics and its international role. Students will hone their critical skills, and may choose to specialise in an area of personal interest if they wish (whether thematic or geographic). The course builds on skills acquired in other courses in contemporary History and the modern world. It particularly complements HIS2000 Contemporary Australia, and HIS3002 The Twentieth Century, and INR 3004 Change in Contemporary China.


This course will focus on the United States of America during the second half of the twentieth century. It begins with America's entry into the Second World War and continues to the `War on Terror' and the presidency of Barack Obama. The course incorporates themes of popular protest, youth culture, gender, race relations and America's international presence. Key events include Sixties' counter-culture, the Watergate scandal, Ronald Reagan's presidency, the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the 'Culture Wars'. The United States remains one of the most influential and complex nations in the world today, and this course will provide students with the historical context to understand contemporary America.


On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Identify the key historical events in recent American history;
  2. Recognise and analyse ongoing historical themes in contemporary society;
  3. Use historical theories and concepts accurately and with confidence;
  4. Identify and use documentary sources critically;
  5. Communicate ideas and knowledge effectively.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Fighting to Stay Still, 1940-1960 20.00
2. The Liberal Hope, 1960-1970 30.00
3. The Conservative Consensus, 1970-1990 20.00
4. American Supremacy, 1990-2010 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. (

  • Gillon, S 2013, The American Paradox: A history of the United States since 1945, 3rd edn, Wadsworth, Boston.

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.
  • Allen, J 2008, Vietnam: The (last) War the U.S. Lost, Haymarket Books, Chicago.
  • Allyn, D 2000, Make Love, Not War: The Sexual Revolution, An Unfettered History, Little & Brown, Boston.
  • Faragher, J M, Buhle, M J, Czitran, D, Armitage, S H 2006, Out of Many: A History of the American People, 5th edn, Pearson, New Jersey.
  • Patterson, J T 2005, Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore, Oxford University Press, New York.
  • Tygiel, J 2005, Ronald Reagan and the Triumph of American Conservatism, Longman, New York.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Lectures 26.00
Private Study 126.00
Tutorials 13.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
RESEARCH ESSAY 100 40 06 Sep 2013
CONTEXTUAL ANALYSIS 100 25 11 Oct 2013
CRITICAL REPORT 100 35 25 Oct 2013

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students’ responsibility 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 an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks or a grade of at least C.

  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:
    Not applicable.

  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

  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. (a) 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.
    (b) In accordance with University Policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.
    (c) The Faculty will normally only accept assessments that have been written, typed or printed on paper-based media.
    (d) The Faculty will NOT accept submission of assignments by facsimile.
    (e) Students who do not have regular access to postal services or who are otherwise
    disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact
    the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements.
    (f) 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 day. Students are to
    note on the assignment cover the date of the public holiday for the Examiner’s convenience.
    (g) 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).
    (h) Students may be required to provide a copy of assignments submitted for assessment
    purposes. Such copies should be dispatched to the USQ within 24 hours of receipt of a
    request to do so.

  2. 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.

  2. Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to USQConnect for this course.