University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

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Australian Literature

The Australian Literature program is taught by the department of English within the School of Letters, Art and Media (SLAM).

About the major

The Australian Literature major will give you a broad understanding of the history and characteristics of Australian literature in its international contexts. It will introduce you to a wide range of literary and cultural works – poems, plays, novels and films – from colonial times to the present day, including works by Indigenous authors. You will encounter the richness, breadth and depth of the Australian Literature program's research and teaching culture, allowing you to customise your study according to your interests.

Through class discussion and presentations, essay writing and exams you will hone skills central to the Australian Literature major: you will learn to read closely and conduct research as part of developing personal, imaginative and valid interpretations of a range of texts.

Pathway through the major

A major in Australia Literature requires 36 senior credit points, including at least 18 credit points of core units of study at 2000 level and at least six credit points of core units at 3000 level.

The units of study for the major can be found in the unit of study table for Australian Literature.

For updated advice about recommended or available units you may also contact the Australian Literature program convenor (details below)

Junior units of study (1000 level)

You complete 12 junior credit points from the department of English. These focus on problems of genre, period, place and language that are relevant to literary studies and can be applied to Australian literature.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

Senior-intermediate (2000 level) units in Australian Literature are sometimes team-taught and are often intensive, small group learning environments. By doing these units you will become acquainted with contexts and issues in the field of Australian literary studies and with its most significant texts and authors, and consolidate your skills in close reading, as well as theoretical and secondary critical research and analysis.

You complete at least 18 credit points of core units of study at 2000 level. You are able to follow your own special interests by taking up to 12 credit points at 2000 level from elective units of study.

Senior-advanced (3000 level) units consolidate your command of the subject by building advanced insights and deep knowledge of Australian literature and its criticism. They will involve you in issues at the cutting edge of the field. You will have opportunities to contribute to inquiry through research, presentation, and writing tasks that will engage you in current debates and allow you to formulate your special research interests. For a major in Australia Literature you need to complete at least six credit points of core units at 3000 level.


Honours in Australian Literature allows students to specialise further in their area of interest. It offers students the opportunity to work independently and creatively in a community of scholars that includes both their peers and the staff of the department. A number of honours graduates each year continue on to postgraduate study in Australia or abroad.

Students wishing to enter honours need to have achieved an average of 70 percent or above in eight senior level Australian Literature or English units, one of which is compulsory: ENGL3655 The Literary in Theory. During their honours year students will write a thesis of 15,000 words as well as completing three honours options.

Refer to the degree resolutions in this handbook and to the Faculty Admissions Policy for Honours:

Contact/further information

Department website:

Dr Peter Kirkpatrick