Indigenous studies

Students in classroom
 at Kensington campus

What is Indigenous studies?

Indigenous studies develop your understanding of Indigenous situations through critical evaluation of theory and methods across a wide range of academic disciplines. This distinct study area emerged in the second half of the twentieth century in recognition of the limitations and preoccupations of existing research. Indigenous studies organise enquiry around the perspectives and interests of Indigenous peoples themselves. 

Learn about Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing; ongoing dilemmas brought by colonisation; and how Indigenous peoples assert cultural and political identities and knowledge today. While our Australian coursework prominently features Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, Indigenous studies also connect with global First Nations movements and international developments.   

Why choose Indigenous studies at UNSW?

Prepare to contribute to the realisation of First Nations aspirations and to respond productively and ethically to unexpected situations and conflicts that may arise along the way.  

Our Indigenous research and teaching place First Nations' knowledge systems, perspectives, and experiences at the centre of analysis. We support your ability to critically synthesise Indigenous knowledge across disciplines such as sociology, history, anthropology, and sources outside academia. You'll learn to navigate differences, tensions and convergences between Indigenous and academic knowledge traditions and the complex mix of histories and interests that shape today's Indigenous situations.  

Indigenous studies are available in many UNSW bachelor's degrees as a major and a minor specialisation. Individual courses can be studied as electives. Our inclusive courses and lecturers provide a safe space for rigorous analysis, debate and discussion of issues significant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The classes are designed to suit diverse Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

Careers in Indigenous studies

In addition to social justice careers in Indigenous communities and Indigenous education, there are opportunities in rapidly increasing intersections between First Nations and non-Indigenous interests in government, non-government, and business economic sectors.

The Indigenous Studies major and minor specialisations focus on developing your professional abilities in working collaboratively across cultural traditions to achieve positive outcomes.

Your ability to productively and ethically engage with First Nations issues can stand out while job-hunting and benefit cultural development in whichever future career you choose. With broad knowledge and skills that enhance and adapt to lifelong career changes, you could join our graduates working in: 

  • Advocacy 
  • Arts and media 
  • Community development 
  • Cultural heritage 
  • Environmental management 
  • Healthcare 
  • Law 
  • Public policy  
  • Research 
  • Social work 
  • Urban planning  
  • Youth work