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Indigenous Studies

Undergraduate Indigenous Studies

Indigenous Studies orients students to engage Indigenous ideas in a rapidly changing world. Our coursework will prepare you to use academic and intellectual processes to evaluate and analyse complex knowledge intersections.

Across eight subjects, students explore Indigenous People of Place, People of Knowledge, and People of Science. Through these themes you will learn about the everyday realities, experiences and knowledges that shape and are shaped by Indigenous people, communities and ideas. Our students graduate ready for a rapidly changing world or work and a disposition to always be a learner of the living world.

You can take Indigenous Studies as a major or minor in the Bachelor of Arts, or enrol in individual subjects as electives in any course.

IERC field trip to Cape Pallarenda and Turtle Rock

This subject focuses on the continuity of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, knowledge and traditions across time and place and explores Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' traditional understanding of their place in the world.

Find out more: IA1011 subject information

This subject focuses on the continuity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' presence in North Queensland and introduces students to the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our region, their traditional relationships to country and to each other.

Find out more: IA1012 subject information

This subject examines how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were re-constituted as colonial subjects and introduces the thinking that underpinned colonial rationales. It will critically review a range of discourses, contexts, historical events, and government policies that have shaped the experiences and reconstituted the identities of Indigenous Australians over time and across the continent.

Find out more: IA2022 subject information

This subject explores Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's history of adaptation to change and resistance to oppressive colonial forces. Significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defensive actions, letters, petitions, protests, labour strikes, Aboriginal societies, legal challenges, other principled actions, and political activism provide a context for investigating Indigenous agency and political standpoints from early contact to the contemporary era.

Find out more: IA2023 subject information

This subject focuses on the similarities and differences in Indigenous peoples' experiences of colonisation in selected countries and the resultant impact. It introduces the different historical and contemporary circumstances of Indigenous people in other colonial contexts and various instruments and terms of political inclusion for Indigenous peoples' agendas for change and pursuit of restorative justice.

Find out more: IA2030 subject information

This subject engages in deeper analysis of the complexity of the contemporary Indigenous position through examination of the goals and conceptual basis of some major narratives of the post-1967 era. The selected narratives represent Indigenous contestation with the continuing terms and conditions of the Australian nation-state and efforts to redress the ongoing legacy of colonial injustice.

Find out more: IA3024 subject information

This subject examines the complex entanglements of Indigenous and Western systems of thought, knowledge, and standpoints engaged in scholarly efforts to understand Indigenous people's contemporary position and policy and practical efforts to bring about change in Indigenous Australians lives.

Find out more: IA3025 subject information

As the Capstone Subject for the Indigenous Studies major, this subject is designed to consolidate and bring together students' learning from previous subjects. The Capstone aims to build on students' appreciation of the implications of Indigenous knowledge continuities, ruptures and convergences in relation to their disciplines and future professional practice.

Find out more: IA3030 subject information


Postgraduate Courses

Postgraduate courses build on your learning from your Bachelor degree to explore applied topics. At JCU students enrolled in postgraduate courses can enrol in Indigenous Studies as an elective. Students can also apply to undertake a research thesis through the Master of Philosophy (Indigenous).

Postgraduate Coursework

This subject focuses on the continuity of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, knowledge and traditions across time and place. It explores Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' traditional understanding of their place in the world.

Find out more: IA5013 subject information

This subject focuses on the similarities and differences in Indigenous peoples' experiences of colonisation in selected countries and the resultant impact. It introduces the different historical and contemporary circumstances of Indigenous people in other colonial contexts and various instruments and terms of political inclusion for Indigenous peoples' agendas for change and pursuit of restorative justice.

Find out more: IA5029 subject information.

This subject is designed as an opportunity for postgraduate students from different disciplines to work together to explore the contemporary Indigenous position and relationships with their current and future professional practice. The subject aims to build on students' appreciation of the implications of Indigenous knowledge continuities, ruptures and convergences in relation to their disciplines and future professional practice.

Find out more: IA5030 subject information

This subject examines what is meant by the concepts "empowerment" and "change", and how the two interrelate. Students are encouraged to re-think and re-theorise critical understandings of empowerment and develop appropriate strategies and interventions to assist Indigenous people to achieve their goals.

Find out more: IA5119 subject information

Master of Philosophy (Indigenous)

A JCU Master of Philosophy (Indigenous) provides  exceptional students who have achieved an undergraduate degree with the opportunity to complete a significant independent research thesis.

What to expect

The Master of Philosophy (Indigenous) offers an innovative approach to research education, combining structured intensives with experienced supervision in a supportive environment. The MPhil (Indigenous) is specifically designed to assist Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in navigating the interface of Western and Indigenous scholarly standpoints in research projects.

You will undertake two research intensives where you will work with peers and advisors to learn about Indigenous research, develop your research skills and advance your project. Following the intensives, you will meet regularly with your experienced advisors to discuss your research progress, culminating in the presentation of a thesis.

With your advisors, you will develop your thesis topic from a broad range of areas, relevant to your professional qualifications and interests. Research areas include but are not limited to:

  • Indigenous studies, knowledge and culture
  • Indigenous education
  • Indigenous community development
  • Indigenous intersections with other disciplines

MPhil (Indigenous) students are equipped with the critical skills required to work in research or to continue on to study a PhD.


Get prepared with the Master of Philosophy (Indigenous) Intensives

Gain the confidence and independence you need to complete your research with the Master of Philosophy (Indigenous) intensives.

The first 6-day intensive, held at the commencement of your masters, is designed to step students through the processes of how to undertake research. This dynamic and innovative program helps students understand literature reviews and allows collaboration between student peers and advisors.

The second 6-day intensive is held after your first six months of candidature. In this week, students will learn more about developing an appropriate approach and methods to their project. This intensive will help students to understand the theory and practice of undertaking research within the exciting and complex field of Indigenous Studies.

Fees and Scholarships

The MPhil (Indigenous) is supported by the Australian Government Research Training Program. Domestic students can access this course fee free*.

*Student Services and Amenities (SSA) fees apply

For information on living stipends, click here.


Enrolment Information

The duration of a Master of Philosophy (Indigenous) is 2 years full-time, or the part-time equivalent and can be undertaken internally or externally.

To be eligible to apply for entry to a Research Masters degree an applicant must demonstrate the capacity to undertake research at the Research Masters level by the attainment of a Bachelor’s Degree with either a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 5.5 in the final full time year of study, or with demonstrated research experience. Students with a GPA below 5.5 in their final year of coursework study should contact the Indigenous Education and Research Centre for advice.

For more information and to discuss enrolment, please contact ierc.hdr@jcu.edu.au. The MPhil (Indigenous) currently has an annual enrolment intake and enrolments close in November.

Visit the Graduate Research School website for more information about higher degrees by research.