Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


Crime holds a special place in Australian history, having facilitated colonisation, provided its most celebrated anti-hero in Ned Kelly and been used to sell millions of newspapers, books and movie tickets. Drawing upon a rich array of digital history resources, this course will examine the back stories of Australia's best known crimes and criminals, setting this underworld in its historical context. It will address the role of sex, class, race and ethnicity in decisions about which behaviours are defined as crimes and why certain people become criminals.

Availability2022 Course Timetables


  • Semester 2 - 2022

Learning outcomes

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

1. Outline key historical debates, themes and concepts around the history of crime in Australia;

2. Integrate primary and secondary sources into a research outcome, drawing on digitised sources as appropriate;

3. Evaluate information, ideas, and arguments about the history of crime, including those from cultures other than their own;

4. Demonstrate intermediate written and visual communication skills, and information literacy skills relevant to history;

5. Reflect on their learning and express an ethical stance towards the history of crime in Australia.


The course will investigate major trends in the history of crime and punishment in Australia, combining a thematic and chronological approach.  It will begin with crime in traditional Indigenous cultures in Australia and how their justice systems responded to the unlawful takeover of their country.  It will examine the crimes in Britain which created the convicts who settled in Australia and their experience of transportation and punishment, as well as the systems of policing put in place as the colonies transitioned into free societies; Themes to be explored may include youth gangs, the gendering of crime, organised crime, domestic violence and criminal celebrities.

Assumed knowledge

20 units in History at 1000 level or equivalent.

Assessment items

Online Learning Activity: Online task and reflection (40%)

Essay: Research Essay (40%)

In Term Test: Online - short answer test (20%)

Contact hours



Online 2 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks

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.