Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


6000 level

Course handbook


This course provides a comprehensive account of the concept of aspirations, emphasising the role of teachers and school leaders in shaping and nurturing students’ post-school aspirations. It explores current issues relating to access to higher education for traditionally under-represented groups, with a particular focus on Indigenous Australians, people from low socio-economic status backgrounds, women in non-traditional areas of study, people living in regional and remote areas of Australia, and first-in-family students. Participants will: engage with Australian and international research exploring the educational and occupational aspirations of school students; identify the various factors that influence aspirations including intersections among factors; and, develop a sound theoretical and empirical basis for translating the concept of aspirations into classroom and school practice.



  • Semester 1 - 2022

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Explain the concept of aspirations, taking into account the historical and contemporary policy context.

2. Develop a conceptual framework for theorising the concept of aspirations

3. Analyse and discuss current issues relating to the under-representation of particular groups of students in Australian higher education.

4. Identify factors that play a role in aspiration formation.

5. Recognise and explain the different ways that teachers and schools explicitly and implicitly influence post-school aspirations.

6. Translate the concept of aspirations into specific plans for classroom and school practice.


  • An introduction to aspirations.
  • Conceptual underpinnings of ‘aspirations’.
  • An overview of issues surrounding access to higher education.
  • An exploration of the educational and occupational aspirations of Australian school students. 
  • The complexity of factors that are closely tied to aspiration formation. 
  • The broader socio-cultural context of aspiration formation.
  • The fundamental role of teachers and schooling in influencing aspirations. 
  • Connecting theoretical concepts and empirical data to local contexts and teaching practice.

Assessment items

In Term Test: Online Test 50%

Case Study / Problem Based Learning: Case Study 50%

Contact hours


Online Activity

Online 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term starting in week 1

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.