Enhance your degree through the arts and social sciences

undergraduate electives

Are you passionate about politics? Interested in exploring history and how this informs today’s societies and cultures? Concerned about whether globalisation has been for the better or worse? Looking to better understand the Australian economy and how this is influenced by global and political factors? Wanting to understand how popular media is used to produce and represent masculinity and femininity? Intrigued by how the most famous stories of blood, sex and political intrigue in the Western literary tradition are found in Biblical books? Need to develop your written and verbal communication skills?

You can learn all of these things, plus much more, through the extensive range of electives now offered by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Whether you are already studying arts or social sciences, of undertaking a degree with the flexibility to allow you to take units of study outside of your host faculty, we invite you to explore our exciting suite of electives.

Below is a small list of just some of the many electives available. However, there are many more units of study available and you can find out more about these units by visiting the online Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences’ 2017 Undergraduate Handbook.

Important dates and information

Some units of study have prerequisites or prohibitions, or require approval from your host faculty – please check the requirements of your degree in detail and the handbook for full details on all units of study before enrolling.

Undergraduate electives

Unit of study


ASNS1602 - Asia: Past, Present, Future

Explore Asia's past, present and future from a global perspective. Making use of the new approaches of world history and big history, this unit examines some of the challenges Asia is facing today and considers Asia's place in our increasingly globalised world. Students will become prepared to make sense of specific Asia-related subjects offered in more advanced units of study.


ICLS2637 - Watching Stars: Film and the Star System

By examining and comparing major film stars from several cultures, this unit will investigate how film stars reflect national preoccupations and how they achieve national and international fame. Students will be introduced to film star theories, and analyse the star image through, for example, actors' on-screen performance in film adaptations, their celebrity physique and aesthetic, and their representations in the popular media. As part of the unit of study students will attend at least four film screenings. 
EUST2010 - Migrations and Asylum in the EU This unit will focus on mobilities, migrations and political asylum in the European Union. It will consider both intra-EU migrations and migrations to and from the EU and associated countries, as well as the increasingly vexed issue of political asylum. Students will study the impacts of skilled mobilities, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, language and religion in migration patterns. This unit will also cover the impact of internal and external geopolitical tensions such as East/West divides, wars and terrorism.

BBCL2610 - The New Testament as Literature

Seeking to understand both the early Christian 'story' and the various modes in which it was retold and applied in the first century CE, this unit of study provides an overview of the New Testament (NT) as a literary and theological work. Students explore the various genres of NT literature, including 'gospel', epistolary forms, parable and apocalyptic. Particular attention is paid to reader-response criticism of the Gospels and intertextuality in the NT epistles. Documents will be read in English translation.

CAEL2076 - Upcycled Glass: Introducing Warm Glass

This unit of study examines conceptual and practical applications of up-cycled and found glass through contemporary art and design. The unit develops your understanding of the ubiquity of glass and its reuse in various guises through small research projects and student presentations. Using found and recycled glass, students will explore a variety of processes, including: diamond cutting, polishing, lathe-working, engraving and joining. You will select from a range of sustainably themed projects that combine critical and practical skills to develop and realise creative works. You may work exclusively with glass or in conjunction with other media and processes.

ARBC1652 - Visions of Contemporary Arab Cultures

Covering the period from the nahdah (Arab renaissance in the XIX century) until today, this unit examines contemporary Arab cultural productions. Main themes include: Arab modernity and the birth of the novel; representation of otherness in Arabic literature; political dissidence and creative writing; visual arts, cinema, music, and popular culture.

ECOS2201 - Economics of Competition and Strategy

This unit introduces new and comprehensive methods for the analysis and formation of business strategy. The unit analyses strategies for developing competitive advantages, including product differentiation, cost advantages and product life cycles; implementing incentives, control, firm boundaries, and internal firm decision-making mechanisms; implementing pricing, auction and signalling practices; assessing industry attractiveness and the regulatory/trade practices environment; and managing industry cooperation and conflict. Students are taught a set of tools that they can bring to bear on new problems. Understanding competitive dynamics and strategic thinking are emphasised. Case studies and problem-solving form an important part of the teaching method.

EDGU1002 - Youth and Digital Culture

What role does digital media play in society and culture? How does it shape young people's experiences, values, and learning opportunities? This unit examines the ways in which the lives of children and young adults are shaped by digital culture. By examining this process in historical and contemporary contexts, students will gain insight into how identity is shaped by practices such as social networking, videogame playing, and digital authoring.

EDGU1005 - Sports Coaching: Theory and Practice

This course introduces students to the theoretical and practical aspects of sport and exercise coaching. Through active participation in lectures, tutorials and practical workshops, students will learn how to create a positive sporting environment by utilizing athlete centred coaching strategies. Students will also learn how to evaluate and improve their own coaching performance by applying reflective and evaluative skills. Topics covered include coaching, training and management principles, coaching pedagogy, planning, skill learning and sports psychology. Students will also complete the beginning coaching general principles course. At the completion of this unit it is hoped that students are more confident and knowledgeable in their coaching practice.

EDGU1006 - Texts and Expectations

What does the university expect of students in relation to texts?At university students are often confronted with reading requirements and written assessment tasks that are very different from those in high school or other educational contexts. This unit is designed to support students in developing effective reading and writing practices in the university context. The unit has three main objectives. Firstly, it assists students in understanding what is expected of them in reading and writing at university. Secondly, it develops students awareness of the structure and language features of different kinds of academic texts. Thirdly, it provides students with strategies to read and write academic texts more effectively. The unit provides a solid foundation that students can use to further develop effective academic literacy practices during the course of their studies.

EDGU2000 - Teaching English Internationally

The rapid expansion of English as a global language has led to a demand for graduates across a range of disciplines to have skills and expertise in English language teaching. This unit aims to introduce the theory and practice of teaching English both in Australia to international students and overseas. The unit is run in conjunction with the Centre for English Teaching and involves lectures by CET staff, lesson observations and practical teaching.

AMST1001 - Global America

This unit examines why and how American politics, culture, economics, and ideas have such a significant impact around the world. Exploring the tension between global and insular America by focusing primarily on the 21st century, we take a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the nature of global America. To effectively analyse how America captures and shapes international relations and imaginations across the globe, we examine a series of topics (imperialism, freedom, race, the environment, and sexuality) from both political and cultural/literary perspectives.

USSC2604 - Sex, Race and Rock in the USA

This innovative and exciting unit explores the cultural history and intersections of sexuality, race, and rock music in the United States, from Elvis and Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé. Influenced by black and working-class cultures, and with sexuality embedded in its form and practice, rock music challenged and transformed existing norms of family, sex, and gender.

GOVT2445 - American Politics and Foreign Policy

This unit will be an overview of the American political system and the formulation of foreign policy. It will cover the major Federal political institutions: the Presidency, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. The unit will consider how foreign policy is made through the interaction of these institutions and with other elements of civil society. Finally, it will examine the outcome of this process - US foreign policy itself - with special emphasis on the post-Cold War period. We will seek to answer two key questions: (a) what is the influence of domestic politics on US foreign policy; and (b) how does the US system cope with the apparent contradictions between its ideals and the imperatives of global power?

SCLG2636 - Sociology of the Body

This unit looks at the ways our bodies interact with society, and how social identities around race, sex, gender and disability are formed in relation to state and corporate embodiment practices.

ECOP2614 - The Political Economy of Gender

This elective unit examines gender in the global economy. Gender is an important social relation that shapes the political economies of developed and developing countries. This Unit of Study focuses on gender relations as a subject of economic thought and analysis. It explores the ways in which contemporary gendered patterns of employment, production, distribution and exchange have been shaped historically and institutionally. 

ANTH2653 - Economy and Culture

Economic anthropology teaches that there are different kinds of economy, grounded in different forms of value (gift, commodity) and on different rationalities (kinship, chiefly, market). The nature of these differences is explored through ethnographic studies, as are the conflicts that arise from their articulation within a global system. Characterisations of economic practice are as corrupt, irrational, informal, black, profit as the work of the devil, money as bitter are treated as signs of such systemic conflict.

SCLG2629 - Celebrity Society What does it mean to be a celebrity? How does one become a celebrity? Is it easier now to be a celebrity? These are some of the questions examined in this unit, which looks at the rise of celebrity in areas such as sport, politics, diplomacy, management and business.

SCLG2623 - Sociology of Terror

This unit looks at the relationship between terrorism and globalisation, exploring themes of massacre, ethnic cleansing, and terrorism in the context of social uncertainty and crises in nation-states.
SCLG2613 - Sociology of Childhood and Youth

The idea of childhood developed historically and was shaped by things like state intervention into the experiences of children and young people transitioning to adulthood. This unit looks at these developments in relation to topics, including juvenile justice, youth homelessness, the social construction of child abuse, and, in Australia, the stolen generations.

SLSS2605 - Crime, Media and Culture This unit consider why we are so fascinated with true crime, and looks at the relationship between real crime and crime fiction by exploring topics such as serial killing, female criminality, organized crime and gangsters. 
SLSS2603 - 

Medico-legal and Forensic Criminology

This unit explores the relationship between crime, law, medicine and science in society by examining the history of criminal detection practices, death investigation systems and the coroner’s office, the role of medicine and science in criminal justice, and the socio-legal management of the dead.

CAEL2076 - 

Upcycled Glass: Introducing Warm Glass

This unit of study examines conceptual and practical applications of up-cycled and found glass through contemporary art and design. The unit develops your understanding of the ubiquity of glass and its reuse in various guises through small research projects and student presentations. Using found and recycled glass, students will explore a variety of processes, including: diamond cutting, polishing, lathe-working, engraving and joining. You will select from a range of sustainably themed projects that combine critical and practical skills to develop and realise creative works. You may work exclusively with glass or in conjunction with other media and processes. 
CAEL2088 - Art and the Internet This unit of study delivers a conceptual and technical introduction to creating artworks in relation to the Internet. The unit provides you both with a historical and conceptual framework in which to conceive of and develop your own online or Internet-related project. Over the course of this unit you will learn a range of approaches to interactive authoring for the web, including models of visual communication as well as the principles of user-interface design and navigational architecture for web-based work. In this unit you are encouraged to critically engage with the implementation of media and interactivity in the online environment. For the major project for this unit you are expected to produce a creative work that engages the contemporary Internet environment. This may be a website or interactive application for a handheld device or an image or object based artwork that specifically enages the Internet. During the course of this unit you will exposed to a range of ideas and techniques directly related to contemporary art and the Internet.
CATE2025 - Practising Contemporary Indigenous Art This unit of study examines the impact of the increasing cultural globalisation of Indigenous art practice within the contemporary art market. Whilst the focus is on contemporary Indigenous art practice as it is positioned within questions of national identity and politics and their effect on postcolonial agency, representation and self-determination, it will also provide a grounding in traditional Indigenous approaches to cultural art practices and protocols. This unit of study will have as part of its examination a commitment to dialogue and cultural exchange between Indigenous and non-Indigenous art practitioners. 
HSTY2629 - Sex and Scandal What makes a scandal? This unit examines a number of sensational case studies from England, America and Australia, beginning with the outrage surrounding Marie-Antoinette and then weaving through the increasingly strait-laced nineteenth century, in which scandals abounded, destroying reputations, rulers and families. It was not behaviour itself, but the ever-changing interpretations of behaviour that gave rise to condemnation and scandalised indignation. Examining occasions when social rules have been flouted allows us to consider the ways in which such rules are themselves constituted, maintained and challenged. 
HSTY2700 - Australia's People since 1901 Who are Australia's people? How best to protect, preserve and build Australia's population has long been a national obsession. A desire for growth fuelled maternal welfare and immigration programs. Images of a cohesive population lay behind exclusionary policies from 'white Australia' to Border Protection, but have also prompted inclusive multicultural initiatives. From Indigenous Australians to asylum seekers, from empty desert to crowded city, from baby health to aged care, from censuses to sex, demography lies at the heart of Australia's history.
PHIL1012 - Introductory Logic An introduction to modern logic: the investigation of the laws of truth. One essential aspect of good reasoning or argumentation is that it is valid: it cannot lead from true premises to a false conclusion. In this unit we learn how to identify and construct valid arguments, using techniques such as truth tables, models and truth trees. Apart from being a great aid to clear thinking about any subject, knowledge of logic is essential for understanding many areas not only of contemporary philosophy, but also linguistics, mathematics and computing.
PHIL2642 - Critical Thinking An introduction to critical thinking and analysis of argument. By examining arguments drawn from diverse sources, including journalism, advertising, science, medicine, history, economics and politics, we will learn how to distinguish good from bad arguments, and how to construct rationally persuasive arguments of our own. Along the way we will grapple with scepticism, conspiracy theories and pseudoscience. The reasoning skills imparted by this unit make it invaluable not only for philosophy students but for every student at the University.
INDG1002 - Introduction to Indigenous History This unit of study focuses on the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples since colonisation, exploring key social, political and legal events, issues and debates, and the people behind them. Students will learn about important historical events and social issues in areas such as civil and political rights, land rights, self-determination and reconciliation, developing an understanding of how these events and issues have shaped the shared history of Australia. The unit introduces a decolonising methodology that will underpin further work in the major.
PRFM2602 - Performance: Production and Interpretation How do the members of an audience make meaning from their experience of theatrical performance? How (and to what extent) can theatre-makers guide this process through the use of text, movement, spatial design, costuming, lighting, sound and other production elements? In this unit of study, students will attend events at a number of Sydney theatres and develop a critical language for analysing live performance. Practical workshops will also provide an introduction to theatre production techniques.
ENGL1013 - Global Literatures in English Global Literatures in English is a transnational and cross-period unit that examines how literary and cultural works from different periods from across the world engage with world historical events and social political structures operating on a global scale, with a particular emphasis on the representation of Empire and its legacies.
WRIT3000 - Workplace Communications Effective communication in the modern workplace involves more than the production or reproduction of formulaic documents. To be persuasive, communication must be tailored to address the needs of differing audiences while sustaining a coherent and credible corporate narrative. This unit teaches the concepts of rhetorical awareness and user-centered design to enable you to craft a range of audience-focused, persuasive speeches, documents and visual texts for an increasingly technologized workplace.