Arts Foundation Subjects

The Faculty of Arts has developed six first-year Arts Foundation subjects. These dynamic subjects will introduce you to different ways of understanding complex issues across the humanities and social sciences.

You will develop fundamental skills required for the Bachelor of Arts (BA). Studying any one of these subjects is part of the first-year core program for Bachelor of Arts students. Through these subjects, you will be part of a common first-year learning community.  These subjects are designed to:

  • Introduce you to core ideas across a wide range of study areas
  • Assist you in making informed decisions when choosing a specialisation or study major
  • Help you develop skills in research, planning, written and interpersonal communication

How do Arts Foundation subjects work?

In the first year, you are encouraged to undertake an Arts Foundation subject in the first semester of enrolment. Each subject is worth 12.5 credit points. The remaining seven first-year subjects can be made up of up to two Breadth subjects (subjects offered from outside the Faculty of Arts) and up to seven subjects from the Study areas offered by the Faculty of Arts.

Subjects

  • Aboriginalities 
  • Identity 
  • Language 
  • Power 
  • Reason 
  • Representation

Aboriginalities

This subject will provide you with an introduction to the complexity, challenges and richness of Australian Indigenous life and cultures. Social and political issues will be considered through engagement with specific issues both local and national. You will have the opportunity to understand Indigenous histories and apply disciplinary perspectives through the experience of Indigenous cultural forms including music, fine arts, museum exhibitions and performances. The focus on Australian Indigenous issues will be complemented by consideration of Indigenous issues around the world.  Learn more 

Identity

Our identity is tangled up with who we are and what we do. This subject considers how identities are constructed and maintained through mediated processes of self and other. It investigates the myriad of demands and devices that figure in constructing our senses of self and other, including language, leisure, beliefs and embodied practices. By exploring identity in diverse contexts across time and place, the subject maps varying conceptions of self and other, and how these conceptions are constructed and maintained. You will also get to understand how these mediated conceptions of self and other are translated into material practices of inclusion, exclusion, discrimination, violence and criminalisation.  Learn more

Languages

This subject provides students with a cross-disciplinary introduction to human language which allows for reflection on its nature and its allowance for a range of perspectives. It explores a number of paradoxes in language, such as how languages create representations of the world to form new insights (e.g. in poetry and in scientific hypotheses), and how it can also be used to prevent understanding (e.g. in propaganda). It also looks at how languages bind social and cultural groups yet also has the ability to divide them. The subject will allow students to develop insights into these paradoxical features of language, and how they constrain and enable individual consciousness, face-to-face interaction, and social life more broadly.  Learn more

Power

Studying power investigates the character of social relations and it tells us who is in control and who may benefit from such arrangements. Power can be a zero-sum game of domination. It can also be about people acting together to enact freedom. This subject examines the diverse and subtle ways power may be exercised. It considers how power operates in different domains such as markets, political systems and other social contexts. It also examines how power may be moderated by instruments as regulation and human rights. A key aim of this subject is to explore how differing perspectives portray power relations and how issues of power distribution may be characterised and addressed.  Learn more

Reason

Humans use reason as one of the ways to describe, explain, predict and imagine things. We can reason using methodical procedures of analytical thinking as well as imaginative and intuitive constructions of possibilities. We can also reason alone by figuring things out by ourselves or together through dialogue or dispute. This subject considers these variations in the human use of reason. It examines the historical origins and philosophical debates over the idea of reason and its relationship to imagination, and the way that different forms and styles of reasoning have arisen in the face of different phenomena, such as the rise of science and its method, debates in ethics and over human identity, and the relationship between reason and the passions. Learn more

Representation

Humans grapple with representations of themselves and their contexts. They also like to imagine other possible worlds. We use words, language, images, sounds and movement to construct narratives and stories, large and small, about the trivial and the profound, the past and the future. These representations can help us to understand worlds but they can also create worlds for us. This subject explores how different genres such as speech, writing, translation, film, theatre and art generate representations of social life, imagination and the human condition. A key aim of the subject is to develop a critical appreciation of how language, images and embodied gestures are used to construct empowering and disempowering discourses. Learn more