Bachelor of Arts - History major

Explore the monumental events of the 19th and 20th centuries with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in History.

Themes include:

  • War and peace
  • Modernisation and social change
  • Colonialism, nationalism and internationalism
  • Gender in history
  • Sport

As an online student you’ll have the flexibility to study when and where it suits you, and graduate with the same globally-recognised Deakin University qualification as an on-campus student.

In your final year you’ll have the opportunity to undertake an internship, and can apply for the US Congress Internship Program.

As well as majoring in History, you can elect other areas of interest to study as part of your Arts degree.

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At a glance

Study mode



Deakin University
Career Opportunities
  • Journalist
  • International Relations Manager
  • Museum Guide
  • Lecturer

Nationally recognised - meets Australian Qualifications Framework standards.

  • Year 12 with an ATAR of 55, OR
  • A Diploma or educational equivalent, OR
  • Relevant work experience including any community work


Work placement

Internships are available

Course length
Full-time: 3 years | Part-time: 6-8 years | Maximum 7 years
Study mode



Study from anywhere, when it suits you best and graduate with the identical qualification as an on-campus student.


Study part of the course online. Combine your online learning with classes or practical sessions on-campus at a college or university.


Attend classes on-campus at a university, TAFE or college and interact face-to-face with teachers and fellow students.

Assignments, exams, tests & online activities
Start date

3 start dates per year.

Deakin University

SEEK Learning offers a range of degrees you can study online through Deakin University and receive the same qualification as an on-campus student.

Deakin University boasts an impressive reputation for being number one for student satisfaction in Victoria (2012) and offering industry placements that count towards your degree.

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Deakin University

The course price can vary depending on a few factors, including whether you are an Australian resident or your chosen payment option. To find out more, contact the course provider.


You can gain entry into the Bachelor of Arts by fulfilling one of these criteria:

  • Year 12 with an ATAR of 55, OR
  • a Diploma or educational equivalent, OR
  • relevant work experience including any community work

In all cases, selection is based primarily on academic merit. Information on your existing qualifications and work experience will also be considered in the selection process (and you may also gain credit for prior learning).

What you'll learn

Through this History major you will develop the ability to:

  • Illustrate the range of opinion between historians on the subject and how and why historians' interpretations have differed
  • Distinguish between different types of written material in terms of their function, authorship and intention
  • Place a primary source document in its contemporary framework
  • Initiate and conduct interviews and respect the interviewee as a source
  • Be sensitive to the need for appreciation of cultural and gender differences
  • Reflect on the ways in which we construct the past.

You will also develop skills specific to the other units you choose to make up your Arts degree.

Work placement

You may be able to undertake an internship unit as part of the History major and gain industry experience.

Course structure

24 credit points units

The degree is structured in a way that offers maximum flexibility. It gives students the opportunities to pursue their own interests and design courses of study that suit their needs. They may study particular areas in-depth or undertake a wide range of units.

Students are required to complete at least one major sequence chosen from a variety of study areas including performing and creative arts, languages, history, media and communication, and sociology. Up to one-third of the course may be taken outside the Faculty of Arts and Education, providing even greater possibilities for interesting course combinations.

History major units

  1. Australia and the two World Wars

    This unit examines critically several themes about the role that Australia played in the two world wars and the impact of those wars on Australian society. The themes to be studied include:

    • the debate over fighting 'other peoples' wars';
    • the methods by which different wars were fought;
    • the soldiers' experience of war and return;
    • conscription, conscientious objection and popular opposition;
    • dissent in wartime;
    • gender and war;
    • aftermath of wars, including repatriation, broken bodies, broken minds, grief and loss;
    • citizenship issues and war, including internment of aliens;
    • the impact of war on the Australian state, national policies and the economy;
    • the representing of Australia's wars, including film;
    • comparisons with the war experiences of other nations and the ANZAC legend;
    • memory of war.
  2. Exploring Australia's Indigenous pasts

    This subject examines the history of encounters between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, since 1788. Students will be introduced to a wide variety of such cross-cultural encounters, the different contexts in which they occurred, the way these encounters have been represented and the issues involved in studying them. The subject will focus on a number of Indigenous leaders and communities; non-Indigenous migrants, missionaries and colonial administrators. Specific studies will focus on locations throughout Australia and themes including land and violence; dispossession and control; missionary and humanitarian ventures; government policies and ideologies; friendship and negotiation; language and education; children and gender. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to reflect on the political nature of representing Indigenous pasts in histories, museum displays, public memorials, the media and universities and reflect on the ongoing nature of the history of colonialism in Australia.

  3. History internship

    Apart from introductory briefing sessions, the content of this unit derives from student placement in a supervised workplace where each student will undertake a project that will be reported both to the workplace and the University. Suitable workplaces include archival repositories, museums, local council library and heritage sections and non-government organisations involved in social and cultural projects.

  4. "History written with lightning": Film and the past

    After watching D.W. Griffith’s cinematic interpretation of the recent American past, Birth of a Nation (1915), the U.S. President Woodrow Wilson commented that the film was ‘like writing history with lightning.’ The electrifying effect of film applied to representations of the past has resulted in an innovative way of ‘writing’ history which extends and informs the so-called visual turn in historical analysis. This unit examines the representation of the past within a range of fiction and nonfiction films from the earliest days of cinema to the present. Historical events analyzed in this way may include, among others aspects, the American frontier, British society in the 1950s, the experience of women in the twentieth century, and the war in Vietnam. Topics studied include narrative or ‘story-telling’ strategies; aspects of film language, including montage; realism; film genre; and film music and the historical event. Within and through an examination of the ways in which film represents the past the unit simultaneously addresses two famous questions from the disciplines of historical studies and film studies: André Bazin’s ‘What is cinema?’ and E.H. Carr’s ‘What is history?’.

  5. Making history

    In this exciting third level unit history students engage with the key issues that challenge historians in researching and writing history. The unit offers two six-week modules which are based on the direct research interests of the history staff. The content of the modules may change from year to year. Students will work closely with staff on cutting edge historical, theoretical and methodological issues. Students will work on closely focused historical events and/or historiographical issues, which may include (subject to staff availability): Sex and history, War and history, Film and history, Religion and history, Nationalism and history, Memory and history, Race and history, Politics and history and Morality and history.

  6. Modern Asian history

    This unit introduces students to several fascinating and important dimensions of modern Asian history. The focus of the unit is on East Asia and it gives students the opportunity to study various aspects of the political, economic, social and colonial history of the region. Modern Asian History is designed to give students the historical knowledge and background to enable them to understand the world’s most dynamic and rapidly growing region in the twenty-first century.

  7. Papua New Guinea: Exploring village, nation and the Kokoda Track

    This unit is a study tour which focuses on developing students’ understanding of Papua New Guinean history, society and politics. Based at the Pacific Adventist University in Port Moresby, the unit will, via a program of guest lectures, seminars, workshops and field trips, enable students to gain insights into Papua New Guinea’s distinctive cultures and histories. Students will be encouraged to reflect upon their own culturally-embedded understandings and consider how they can enhance their intercultural communication skills and competencies. The unit will also cover the history of Australian involvement in Papua New Guinea, including the history of the Kokoda Campaign of 1942.

  8. Race, science and religion in Australasia 1860s to 1920s

    At the height of the imperial age scientific and religious ideas about racial differences were debated at the centre and the edges of empires. This unit examines both the theories of race that were formulated in this period and the ramifications of these ideas in the region known as Australasia: including Australia, New Guinea, Fiji and the New Hebrides. Specific topics include the Melanesian labour trade to Queensland, the conversion of Islanders to Christianity, the colonisation of the Pacific Islands and the defence and federation of the Australian colonies as the imperial powers of France and Germany sought Pacific empires. Students will develop a major research essay that will be based on a wide range of primary and secondary sources and consider the historiographical debates around these topics.

  9. Sex and gender in history

    This unit focuses on questions of gender and sexuality in Australian history from the experience of Indigenous society to the mid 20th century. During the 19th century concepts of Australian masculinity and femininity were redefined, and gender relations changed through the experiences of colonisation and nationalism. The unit focuses on how the experience of gender was affected by issues of class and ethnicity as well as through race. Students will study the ways in which gender is relevant to understanding intellectual, political and social change in Australian history. Topics include: gender and Indigenous Australia, convict society, family and domestic relations, the origins of the feminist movement, work, education, sexuality, masculinity, colonialism, and gender and modernity.

  10. Sport in history

    Are Australians peculiar in their interest in sport? The unit studies the evolution of sport since classical times, and its different roles in society over time. Major changes in forms of sport are examined in relation to political, social, cultural, religious, and economic developments in society. Theories and interpretations of sport’s role in society throughout history are examined, taking into consideration issues including class, gender, ethnicity, and power. Information and case studies are drawn from a diverse range of sports and countries, with students offered a chance to pursue particular interests. By the completion of the unit, you should know whether sport is only a game.

  11. The Cold War world: 1945-1991

    Framed by the beginning and end of the great ideological divide between the communist east and the capitalist west – the Cold War - the unit will lead you through the major political and social changes that occurred between 1945 and 1991: the fall of the iron curtain across Europe, life in the communist countries, the Vietnam war and the eventual demise of European communism. Against this backdrop of world tension the unit will examine the rise of new nations in Asia, Africa and the Pacific and the development of the social movements of environmentalism, feminism and grass roots activism.

  12. The French Revolution and the struggle for freedom

    The French Revolution of 1789 was, above all, a struggle for freedom, as the people rose against a despotic monarchy and an oppressive social system to demand their natural rights to liberty and equality. But what did freedom mean to the people? How was freedom given substance in the political structures of the new, revolutionary regime? This unit will study the meaning of freedom from the Enlightenment and the American Revolution to its influence on the emerging revolutionary mentality of late-eighteenth France. It will examine how the revolutionary struggle between the monarchy, nobility, church and the bourgeoisie saw freedom realised. Freedom was expressed in a statement of rights, which declared that all men were born free and equal. Freedom then had to be defended and protected. And freedom had limits. Were women truly free? Could Jews and Protestants be free in a Catholic country? Could a revolution based on freedom justify the abomination of slavery? What did freedom mean for the people if their society remained profoundly unequal in wealth and power? This unit will explore these questions. It will examine the struggle for freedom as a great social struggle with a profound legacy that still resonates today.

  13. The Holocaust

    Topics addressed include: the growth of antisemitism; the emergence of Hitler and the Nazi Party; the persecution of German Jews and other supposedly inferior "racial" groups; Hitler's motivations for initiating the Second World War; the persecution of Jews in Poland following the Nazi invasion, particularly the effects of ghettoisation; victims' responses to persecution; the development of the Nazis' so-called "euthanasia" programs; the "war of annihilation" following Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union; mass shootings of Jews and other Soviet civilians; the Nazis' development of state-sanctioned, industrialised mass killing through the establishment of death camps; the "Auschwitz experience"; and the postwar aftermath of the Holocaust.

  14. World history between the wars 1919 - 1939

    This unit examines the major episodes, developments and figures of the interwar period (1919-1939) in Twentieth Century World history. At the same time it is intended to introduce students to the study of history and the Deakin history major. While this is developed as a discrete unit it is intended also to provide an introduction to the trimester two unit so that together, the trimester one and two of the first level will provide an extended survey of the twentieth century.

    In this unit students will investigate the causes, nature and impact of the major changes that emerged after World War One. Topics in this unit will include a study of the major political structures that emerged including popular democracy, fascism and communism, the major events such as the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the Great Depression and the Origins of the Second World War, the major personalities such as Stalin, Hitler and Roosevelt and a selection of significant social and cultural developments which shaped everyday life in this period including the emergence of mass production, a consumer society, and technologically-based mass entertainment.

Support and delivery

Studying online explained

How Deakin's online courses are delivered

As an online student you’ll watch lectures, complete readings and participate in tutorials, just like an on-campus student. The difference is you’ll do this online, when it suits you.

Deakin was one of the first universities in Australia to deliver courses for off-campus students, and they pride themselves on an online learning system that is cutting-edge, engaging and easy to use.

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