History as a subject is part of the Australian curriculum and is compulsory from the first year of primary school until the end of Year 10. During this time, students will study:
- personal and family history (Foundation–Year 1)
- local community history (Year 3)
- the colonisation of Australia, migration and democracy (Year 4–Year 6)
- ancient societies of the East and West, plus early modern history (Year 7–Year 8)
- history of the modern world in relation to Australia (Year 9–Year 10).
While school history courses are often associated with dates and wars, the right history teacher will bring history to life for students, inspiring them to continue to study the subject well beyond compulsory education years.
What Makes a Great History Teacher?
As with any teacher in any subject, the best teachers are the ones who are passionate about the subject and have in-depth knowledge.
If they love their subject, students will absorb this. If, on the other hand, they're teaching history courses because they 'have to', then this will also be absorbed by students.
You will know both types of teachers — hopefully, more of the former than the latter.
Other characteristics of a fabulous history teacher include:
- Experience — not necessarily teaching experience or even a history qualification, but life experience. Has your teacher been on an archaeology dig? Have they visited any of the places they're teaching about? Personal anecdotes and firsthand knowledge can really bring a history course to life.
- Flexibility — the ability to adapt history lessons to the needs and interest of the students, within the constraints of the Australian curriculum.
- Connections and 'inside knowledge' — a teacher who has contact with historians and other people working in the field can use these to add relevance to lessons.
What Will You Learn in Your History Lessons?
If you go into your history lessons thinking it's all about knowing who, what, when and where — you'll only scratch the surface of this subject.
It's actually the 'how' and 'why' questions that give history its grunt and intrigue historians and history buffs alike.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
~ George Santayana ~
In a nutshell, history is the study of the past to understand the future.
Initially, you should learn about world history in general (as per the Australian school curriculum).
An introductory course is a perfect way to get a broad overview of the subject, enabling you to choose which area you want to focus on later, for example:
- ancient, medieval or modern
- region-based — Australian, western, eastern etc.
- branch-based — art, political, women's, diplomatic, cultural etc.
Along with specific content, the study of history is also about learning and applying specific skills, including:
- communication skills (verbal and written)
- analytical skills, interpretation and decision-making
- research skills
- skills in chronological thinking
- historical comprehension (the ability to 'get into the heads' of people from the past)
- independent, self-driven learning
- ability to work collaboratively.
All of these skills are applicable not only to a career in fields directly related to history but to multiple other career pathways as well — leaving your options wide open to pursue whichever pathway you choose.
Where Can You Study History in Brisbane?
Brisbane, in sunny Queensland, Australia, is an ideal study location. The capital city of Queensland is affordable with a host of student accommodation both on and off campus.
Easy to navigate, it is also safe and welcoming with world-class education facilities. And, did we mention it's sunny ... and warm ... with great beaches.
In and around Brisbane, there are numerous avenues if you want to study history — from an undergraduate university degree or diploma to membership with the Brisbane History Group (there's a surprising amount of history in this Queensland capital). The path you choose will depend on your ultimate goal, whether it's to gain a qualification with a rewarding career path or as a recreational pursuit just because you're interested in the subject.
University Degree History Courses in Brisbane
Every university offers history courses in Brisbane. However, it's worth taking the time to look around and ask questions of teachers, lecturers and past and present students to get a feel for the degree and campus that's the right fit for you.
University of South Queensland
One good option is the undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Arts History Major, as this degree not only provides students with a wide range of elective history subjects but also a grounding in other broadly relevant skills.
This Queensland university has campuses spread across greater Brisbane. The university offers a range of undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degrees, including double degrees and honours, as well as postgraduate and masters level. You can elect to study history as a major or as a minor subject depending on what your career goals are.
Australian Catholic University
With its campus in the heart of Brisbane, the Australian Catholic University offers a history major in its Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree and also offers theology as either a major or minor.
Informal or Recreational History Courses in Brisbane
Brisbane is home to two history-based associations:
- Brisbane History Group
- Queensland Family History Society
Both of these associations meet on a regular basis at different locations and usually have an education component with regular guest speakers.
If you join a working party, you can learn new skills in research and analysis as you work.
The Brisbane History Group organises a number of events or day trips each year to different historical sites or to a seminar on a specialised topic. Members also have the option of presenting and teaching a topic of personal interest.
Another group that may be of interest, if you are over 50, is U3A (University of the Third Age — though not actually a university as such).
Membership with U3A Brisbane is $40 a year, plus an additional fee of $5 per class. These classes are run by volunteers on different topics and you can attend a many as you wish. Classes with a history focus may include: Art History; The British in Africa; and Philosophy Ancient and Modern.
For Students Still in High School
If you can't get enough history knowledge, there are a number of learning experiences you can take advantage of or courses you can do during the holidays, after school or online to supplement your school studies and follow your subject interests.
- Volunteer — gain some work experience by volunteering as a guide in a museum or other historical site. Not only will you be spending time doing what you love, you will meet other like-minded people and learn new skills.
- YouTube — online courses through YouTube, such as Crash Course, offer a lot of interesting content for free.
- Short Courses — evening colleges, TAFE and community interest groups are great sources for short, targeted courses covering a wide range of historical knowledge.
If you're enrolled in a bachelor degree or working towards your Year 12 exams, you might be after help with your studies.
Or, you might prefer to work one-on-one with someone in the field who can tailor lessons to suit your specific need and goals. A private teacher is ideal in both cases.
You can find a number of tutoring agencies online, and noticeboards at university and your local community centre are great places to look for history tuition. These are often offered by a student wanting to earn some extra cash.
Don't forget to check out all the tutors we have on the Superprof online platform, as you're sure to find someone who meets your needs and your budget.
Career Pathways When You Have a History Background
Not everyone who studies history wants to be a historian but if you do, it's highly recommended you join a network such as Professional Historians Australia.
Even if you want to pursue a different career path, it's worthwhile taking the time to look through this site as they have some useful tips and resources.
As a historian, you may work in government organisations, such as archives, museums, heritage departments or radio, film and digital history organisations — either as an employee or as a contractor or consultant.
Your role could entail anything from research and analysis to collation and writing of reports.
Other fields you may enter include:
- Teaching — if you also possess an education qualification, you may wish to apply for a position as a history teacher in a high school (or even in a specialist role in certain primary schools). Alternatively, you could work as an education officer in a museum or other historical cultural institution.
- Writer or Editor — as a historical writer, not only could you specialise in writing (or editing) non-fiction books and articles but you may end up writing speeches for politicians or company directors, or you may write on commission for magazines or digital content agencies.
- Business Consultant — a consultant with both a business and a history background will often work advising museums and historical sites.
- Researcher — because research skills are key in a history degree, many graduates can become professional researchers and market analysts.
- Park Ranger — this may come as a surprise but hand-in-hand with a passion for history often comes a passion for sharing it. If you're an outdoorsy type, being a park ranger at a historical site may be just right for you.
History really can take you places.