Australian Politics and Active Citizenship

HUMN1052 Australian Politics and Active Citizenship
Autumn Semester 2022
Take-Home Examination Revision Sheet
About the exam:
* This is a ‘take-home’ exam: this means that you will complete and submit it at your leisure from home, over a three-day period, and submit through Turnitin in the usual way. There is no sit-down in-person component to the exam, and you will not find it listed in the coordinated exam schedule (since it’s not a coordinated exam).
* The exam paper will be posted on the subject vUWS site at 9am on Wednesday June 22. You’ll need to submit through Turnitin no later than midnight Friday June 24. Since you’ll complete the exam at your pace over three days, the exam will naturally be open-book.
* You should write your responses in clear literary English prose (not dot-points!), but in exam format. You do not need to use formal referencing. However, if you do quote directly from your sources you will need to make that clear using quotation marks, and should indicate the page number of the quotation in brackets. Each part of the exam paper will have a word-limit, so people short of time in the exam week will not be disadvantaged.
* You do not need to provide a structured introduction or conclusion (there really isn’t space for this), but you should respond directly to the question(s) by presenting your own point of view, backed up with evidence from the sources. Each question will have to be answered in 500 words or less, adding up to a total of no more than 1500 words. The exam is worth 40% of the semester’s marks.
* If you have health or family reasons why you cannot sit the exam over this period, there will be a deferred exam in the following week. Tis revision sheet will also work for the deferred exam. In order to sit the deferred exam you will need to request special consideration, providing appropriate documentation. For more information contact David directly. Note that this exam is not part of the coordinated exam schedule: you will need submit requests direct to David as subject coordinator.
The structure of the exam:
The exam will divided into three sections, broadly corresponding to the three main themes of the subject. There will be two or three questions drawn from each of these areas of the subject, out of which you will have to answer one per section, in a cut-down essay format. All of the sections will be equally weighted, so that you will answer three questions in total, one from each section.
The first section will focus on the materials from weeks 2 through 6 on Australia’s political institutions and their philosophical underpinnings. The second section will focus on weeks 7 through 11, on social movements, gender, indigenous political and group rights (in the form of land rights). The third section will focus on weeks 12 through 14, covering Australia’s relations with and obligations to the world community.
Revision suggestions for Section A (weeks 2-6)
* What is meant when people talk about liberal democracy, and what is specifically ‘liberal’ about it? Why do some authors describe the liberal and democratic elements as being ‘in tension’? What is meant by the ‘separation of powers’, and what powers are being separated? How does our ‘democracy’ compare to that of the ancient Mediterranean?
* What are the advantages and disadvantages of our Australian system of elections (compulsory voting, preferential voting) versus other electoral systems elsewhere? Use the results from the recent Australian federal election as an example. (You may use as many other examples as you choose.) You may also want to study the results on the AEC’s website at and the virtual tally room at
* What is representative democracy, and who exactly do members of Parliament represent? What relationship to governments bear to parliament, on the one hand, and the electorate, on the other? What is ‘populism’ and why has it been so much in the world news in the last few years? Are Australians more ‘disillusioned’ with electoral democracy than in the past?
Revision suggestions for Section B (weeks 7-11)
* Is it possible to define precisely what social movements are? What relationship do they bear to our electoral democracy? What does it mean to talk about ‘civil society’? Why do social movements rise and fall, appear and disappear, so fast? You will be expected to give examples.
* Why do female Members of Parliament still feel uncomfortable or even unsafe in their work? What can be done to improve our Parliaments as women-friendly workplaces? Why did Julia Gillard’s gender matter during her prime ministership? What does the outcome of the recent federal election tell us about changing public attitudes towards women in Parliament.
* How does our constitution and our laws understand the relationship of the Australian nation to indigenous Australians and their presence prior to white colonisation? Why did the achievement of full citizenship rights after 1967 result in such a feeling of disappointment amongst many indigenous Australians? Why has land rights been such a dominant focus of Aboriginal political aspiration since the late 1960s?
Revision suggestions for Section C (weeks 12-14)
* What are Australia’s international obligations in relation to refugees, and why is the UN Declaration on Refugees regarded as such an important obligation for member states? Is it possible to reconcile questions of national sovereignty with these international obligations?
* In what respects has our economy and our economic relations with the world changed since Federation in 1901? Why has Australia been a relatively reluctant contributor to global initiatives aimed at limiting climate change?
* Why are our relations with China currently so complicated and tense? Are we more or less beholden to the Chinese Government in our political relations, or are we able to resist their economic and political pressures? Should we be concerned about China’s involvement in our region? Is it possible to maintain vigilance in relation to China’s aggressive military postures without causing Chinese-Australians to feel like targets?
Queries? Requests? Contact David at [email protected]


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