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AUST11-101: Australia: Dreamtime to Dust January 2020 [Standard]

General information

This subject outlines Australia's natural and human development: continental origins; the oldest life forms yet found on Earth; the origin and adaptation of marsupial fauna; the drying of the continent and the story of the oldest continuous human culture in the world - the Australian Aborigines. It examines Aboriginal art, social and belief systems and survival of Aboriginal culture after colonisation. It will be a valuable subject for students of History, Geography, Environmental and Natural Sciences, Anthropology, Archaeology, Palaeontology, and Social and Cultural Studies.


Academic unit:Faculty of Society & Design
Subject code:AUST11-101
Subject title:Australia: Dreamtime to Dust
Subject level:Undergraduate
Semester/Year:January 2020
Credit points:10

Delivery & attendance

Delivery mode:


Workload items:
  • Lecture: x12 (Total hours: 24) - Weekly Lecture
  • Tutorial: x12 (Total hours: 12) - Weekly Tutorial
  • Personal Study Hours: x12 (Total hours: 84) - Recommended Study Hours
Attendance and learning activities: Apart from attending lectures and tutorials on campus, students are also expected to participate in at least one experiential learning trip which will involve meeting with and learning from local indigenous people. More details will be provided in class at the beginning of the semester. Dreamtime to Dust students will visit and learn about one of the best museums in Australia, the Queensland Museum in Brisbane. In the museum the group will be guided by a respected Goenpul Traditional Owner and Elder of the Quandamooka Indigenous community on Stradbroke Island. She will guide the group through the museum's locked storage areas normally closed to members of the public. There, students will view one of the largest collections of stored material culture in Australia. The collection contains every day, hunting, gathering and ceremonial objects from Australia and New Guinea and rare items not found elsewhere in Australia. The visit will focus on discussing museological methods of preservation, repatriation and storage, and the role museums play in keeping secret and sacred objects and human remains. Faculty of Society and Design will cover the costs of the field trip. These educational trips are essential for the successful completion of the subject requirements. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the lecturer of anything that may prevent them from attending and participating in the field trip. Professor Steve Webb, who will accompany the group, will provide further details of the trips at the beginning of the semester. The trip will replace the scheduled tutorials for that week.


Prescribed resources: No Prescribed resources. After enrolment, students can check the Books and Tools area in iLearn for the full Resource List.
[email protected] & Email:[email protected] is the online learning environment at Bond University and is used to provide access to subject materials, lecture recordings and detailed subject information regarding the subject curriculum, assessment and timing. Both iLearn and the Student Email facility are used to provide important subject notifications. Additionally, official correspondence from the University will be forwarded to students’ Bond email account and must be monitored by the student.

To access these services, log on to the Student Portal from the Bond University website as

Enrolment requirements

Requisites: ?


Restrictions: ?


Assurance of learning

Assurance of Learning means that universities take responsibility for creating, monitoring and updating curriculum, teaching and assessment so that students graduate with the knowledge, skills and attributes they need for employability and/or further study.

At Bond University, we carefully develop subject and program outcomes to ensure that student learning in each subject contributes to the whole student experience. Students are encouraged to carefully read and consider subject and program outcomes as combined elements.

Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

Program Learning Outcomes provide a broad and measurable set of standards that incorporate a range of knowledge and skills that will be achieved on completion of the program. If you are undertaking this subject as part of a degree program, you should refer to the relevant degree program outcomes and graduate attributes as they relate to this subject.

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Subject Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject the learner will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate their understanding of major stages in the physical and biological evolution of the Australian continent, the supercontinent Gondwana; Australia's oldest life forms on the planet; and Australia's dinosaurs, and megafauna
  2. Identify key aspects of the story of human migration & evolution across the planet, as a prelude to the entry of the first people into Australia
  3. Formulate and convey their understanding of the culture of the first Australians, their special relationship with the land, social and organisational networks, the notion of the 'Dreaming', Aboriginal art, and methods of hunting and gathering
  4. Formulate autonomous and responsible judgement in understanding aspects of Indigenous cultures in Australia and globally.


Assessment details

TypeTask%Timing*Outcomes assessed
Class Participation Participation in the tutorial discussion 10% Ongoing 1, 2, 3, 4.
Test - Closed Mid-Term Test includes multiple-choice and short answer questions. The test covers the contents of the sessions discussed in the first part of the semester. The test will take place on Thursday week 7, 5-6pm. 45% Week 7 1, 2, 3.
Project Students will work on a Project in the Australian Studies approved by the professor. The form of the assessment may include either a seminar presentation or a video. Students will work in small groups. Details will be introduced at the beginning of the semester. 45% In Consultation 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • * Assessment timing is indicative of the week that the assessment is due or begins (where conducted over multiple weeks), and is based on the standard University academic calendar
  • C = Students must reach a level of competency to successfully complete this assessment.

Assessment criteria

High Distinction 85-100 Outstanding or exemplary performance in the following areas: interpretative ability; intellectual initiative in response to questions; mastery of the skills required by the subject, general levels of knowledge and analytic ability or clear thinking.
Distinction 75-84 Usually awarded to students whose performance goes well beyond the minimum requirements set for tasks required in assessment, and who perform well in most of the above areas.
Credit 65-74 Usually awarded to students whose performance is considered to go beyond the minimum requirements for work set for assessment. Assessable work is typically characterised by a strong performance in some of the capacities listed above.
Pass 50-64 Usually awarded to students whose performance meets the requirements set for work provided for assessment.
Fail 0-49 Usually awarded to students whose performance is not considered to meet the minimum requirements set for particular tasks. The fail grade may be a result of insufficient preparation, of inattention to assignment guidelines or lack of academic ability. A frequent cause of failure is lack of attention to subject or assignment guidelines.

Quality assurance

For the purposes of quality assurance, Bond University conducts an evaluation process to measure and document student assessment as evidence of the extent to which program and subject learning outcomes are achieved. Some examples of student work will be retained for potential research and quality auditing purposes only. Any student work used will be treated confidentially and no student grades will be affected.

Study information

Submission procedures

Students must check the [email protected] subject site for detailed assessment information and submission procedures.

Policy on late submission and extensions

A late penalty will be applied to all overdue assessment tasks unless an extension is granted by the subject coordinator. The standard penalty will be 10% of marks awarded to that assessment per day late with no assessment to be accepted seven days after the due date. Where a student is granted an extension, the penalty of 10% per day late starts from the new due date.

Policy on plagiarism

University’s Academic Integrity Policy defines plagiarism as the act of misrepresenting as one’s own original work: another’s ideas, interpretations, words, or creative works; and/or one’s own previous ideas, interpretations, words, or creative work without acknowledging that it was used previously (i.e., self-plagiarism). The University considers the act of plagiarising to be a breach of the Student Conduct Code and, therefore, subject to the Discipline Regulations which provide for a range of penalties including the reduction of marks or grades, fines and suspension from the University.

Bond University utilises Originality Reporting software to inform academic integrity.

Feedback on assessment

Feedback on assessment will be provided to students within two weeks of the assessment submission due date, as per the Assessment Policy.

Disability support

If you have a disability, illness, injury or health condition that impacts your capacity to complete studies, exams or assessment tasks, it is important you let us know your special requirements, early in the semester. Students will need to make an application for support and submit it with recent, comprehensive documentation at an appointment with a Disability Officer. Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Office at the earliest possible time, to meet staff and learn about the services available to meet your specific needs. Please note that late notification or failure to disclose your disability can be to your disadvantage as the University cannot guarantee support under such circumstances.

Subject curriculum

As arguably the oldest continent, the subject uses the first three weeks to outline the process of continental development and the natural networks that go to make up 4.4 billion years of Australia's and the wider planetary development these are described through a review of geological, biological and climatic change the world has passed through. We look at the super-continent Gondwana and the earliest lifeforms that have been found in Australia.


After laying the foundations for the Australian continent, we look at the reasons why Australia became so dry. These are outlined through 4 majors stages over 65 million years. The environmental change that accompanied this process are examined together with the reasons why we have our present ecosystems. A major climatic shift transformed a cool, rainforest covered continent to that of the driest inhabited continent in the world. It was the time for the arrival of our first marsupials and we see how they evolved on this continent.


After seeing how the modern continent formed together with its marsupial fauna we trace the final stages of its drying and look at the changes taking place among our plants and animals..


We now have an understanding how Australia formed and became what it is today, It is time to put human on it. Without understanding how the Australian continent works it is difficult to understand the ancient culture that grew up here. So this week we begin the story of how humanity evolved and spread around the world. We see how for over two million years various hominins have pushed out from Africa and colonised places as far away as Indonesia and China.


This week we continue the story of human migrations around the world,. But we now follow the rise of Modern Humans and their cousins the neanderthals and see how they set up colonies across Asia, Southeast Asia eventually moving into Australasia and Australia itself. We examine what route they took to reach their goals. We see a glimpse of who these people were, how they lived and how they gradually developed the technical skills to take them across open oceans. were to modern humans. We also look at their skills and capabilities for making tools, crossing water gaps, using proto-language and see who the first people to arrive in Australia might have been. The genetic evidence for these people will be reviewed as an aid to understanding where and when people moved about.


Finally, in this section of the subject, we look at the evidence for the first people who arrived in Australia and where and how they might have arrived here. We look particularly at a couple of special examples of human who lived in Southern Australia and see how their culture and belief systems have been interpreted from the archaeological record.We also take a look at the issues of the extinction of the giant marsupial megafauna & review some of the ideas that have been put forward to explain it. In the second part of the subject, we will undertake two fieldtrips: in week 8 and week 9, on the day when the first weekly tutorial is scheduled for. This unique opportunity for experiential learning will give the students an opportunity to learn outside the campus.


In this part of the course, various aspects of Aboriginal culture are examined. We begin by introducing four cultural corners stones: ties to the land, social organisation and kinship, ritual and ceremony and the notion of the secret and sacred and transmission of culture. This week we examine special ties to the land and what the land means to Aboriginal people and how they see the land in a different perspective from that of an economic resource.

Social organisation and kinship tie Aboriginal people together in a vast network of relationships at many levels. In this way a social universe is built to encompass everybody: it is a universe which no Aboriginal person can live outside. The network involves totemic attachment to places in the landscape through relationships handed down over generations using bands, language groups, clans, moieties, phratries, skin group relationships and totemic association.

We examine art styles from different parts of the continent. Aboriginal people see and use their art in a different way than Europeans see theirs. Aboriginal art is functional not necessarily aesthetic, it describes the country, bush foods, ancestry, spiritual places and stories, it relates lore, Dreaming Tracks and how things took place in the Dreaming. Most of all it features the ancestral spirits and their stories.

Hunting and gathering has been a way of life for Aboriginal people for millennia. We review what it means to live in the desert, how people feed themselves and find water and how the people themselves have physiologically adapted to a feast and famine diet. The desert lifestyle is then contrasted with that in the tropics. The health of Aboriginal people depended upon the success of their economic adaptation to the various Australian environments.

The common conception of Aboriginal economics is one of the wandering hunter & gatherer. Although this particular lifestyle was dominant because of the type of landscape that covers most of Australia, other methods of feeding the population did take place. We look at the economic intensification of Aboriginal groups in Victoria as an example of this. There, canals & small lakes were constructed to provided bigger harvest of eels and fish.

Approved on: Nov 8, 2019. Edition: 3.1