Frequently Asked Questions about History@Sydney
A unit of study or unit is a stand alone component of your degree i.e. what most people call a course or a class. The university, however, uses course to refer to an entire degree i.e. the Bachelor of Arts (BA) is a course. Units are what make up a course / degree.
There are several different levels of units of study taught by the department of History: junior units; senior units; Fourth Year Honours units and postgraduate units.
Each unit of study is assigned a credit point value (from 2006, almost all units of study at the university are worth 6 credit points). To be awarded a degree, you must complete a specific number of credit points (the exact number, and the other requirements to be awarded a degree, vary depending upon your degree).
A junior unit of study is the level of unit that you take to begin your study of history at university (which for most students is in their first year, which is why junior units are often called first year units. However you can also take junior units after your first year). There is a maximum number of junior units that you can do in your degree; the exact number depends on the requirements for your degree. Junior units of History have unit of study codes that begin with '1'. A junior unit of history is worth six credit points.
You need to complete two junior units of History (for a total of 12 credit points), or of the subject that the department considers to be equivalent to History, which is Ancient History, before you can enroll in senior units of study in the History department.
There are no prerequisites for junior units. That means that you do not need to have studied History in high school, or to have done any other university units, in order to enrol in junior units.
A senior unit of study is the level of unit above junior units, which most students take in their second and third years of their study of history at university.
Before you can enroll in a senior unit of study in History you must have completed two junior units (i.e. 12 junior credit points) of History or Ancient History.
To complete a major in History you have to complete 6 senior units of study (i.e. 36 senior credit points of History). Up to 3 of the 6 units required for a major can be cross-listed units of study.
A cross-listed unit of study is a senior unit of study taught by another department in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences that can counted as part of a major in History i.e. is treated as equivalent to a History unit of study.
You can have no more than 3 cross-listed senior units of study in the 6 senior units of study of History that are required for a major in History.
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences publishes a list of cross-listed units of study each year. (See link on right-hand side of the page.)
Credit points are the value that a unit of study counts toward completing your degree - i.e. you must complete a 144 credit points to be awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree (other degrees require different credit point totals). From 2006, every unit of study taught by the History department is worth 6 credit points.
All the credit points that you gain count toward the total that you require to complete your degree, but for some requirements you need either junior credit points (those gained by completing junior units of study) or senior credit points those gained by completing senior units of study. For example, you need 12 junior senior credit points of History to enroll in a senior unit of study.
A unit of study code is a unique alphanumeric code that is assigned to each unit of study taught at the university. All History units of study have a code that begins with 'HSTY', and is followed by a four digit number.
- A unit of study with a number that begins with '1' e.g. HSTY1076 is a junior unit of study.
- A unit of study with a number that begins with '2' e.g. HSTY2609 is a senior unit of study taught using lectures and tutorials.
- A unit of study with a number that begins with '5' or '6' is a postgraduate unit of study.
A lecture is a class in which an academic staff member instructs students by presenting information. In its simplest form, a lecture involves a staff member speaking, and students taking notes, but in the History department most lectures also incorporate images photographs, paintings, maps, cartoons sound, and video, and give students some opportunities to take a more active role, asking or answering questions.
Units of study in the History department taught using lectures involve two hours of lectures each week, usually in the form of two 50-55 minute sessions, although some units of study are taught as a single two hour lecture. Lectures are paired with a one-hour tutorial, in which students, not staff, play the leading role.
In some units of study, recordings of lectures are made available, increasingly in the form of digital files that students can download. Some staff also provide lecture outlines and other material related to the lecture. The History department does not provide lecture notes.
A tutorial is a group of 20-25 students and a tutor that meets for one hour once a week to discuss assigned readings related to material covered in lectures. It is an opportunity for students to be active learners.
The tutor either an academic staff member or a postgraduate student is there to facilitate; students do the talking. In tutorials you learn to listen and absorb the ideas of others, and respond to their ideas, as well as to develop and express your own ideas, to respond to constructive criticism and to be ready to change or discard your argument in favor of one that is more convincing. Preparation is a key to getting something out of tutorials; you need to read the assigned readings before your tutorial.
In most units of study in the History department, tutorial participation determines a proportion of your final mark.
In the History department, tutorials are a central part of a unit of study. Consequently, the department has a policy specifying that if you do not attend 80% of your tutorials you will be penalized; if you miss more than half the tutorials in a unit of study, the department regards you as not having completed the unit, and awards you a grade of AF i.e. you fail that unit of study.
A seminar is a class of 15-25 4th-year or postgraduate students and an academic staff member that meets for two hours once a week. As in a tutorial, students discuss assigned readings, and take an active role in their learning. But in units of study that involve seminars, there are no lectures. All the instruction is in the form of seminars.
As is the case with tutorials, in all units of study taught in the History department participation in the seminar determines a proportion of your final mark.
Participation is contributing to a class. In units of study in the History department, your participation in your tutorial or seminar determines a proportion of your final mark.
Participation marks are not based on attendance, but on what you say in a tutorial or seminar. Your grade for this part of a unit of study does not depend on you providing the ‘right answers’, but on you making thoughtful contributions that reflect careful reading and consideration of the questions raised by what you have read.
A major is an area of concentration or specialization in a university degree. You need to complete one major to be awarded a degree, but in most courses it is possible to complete more than one major.
To complete a major in History, you need to complete 6 senior units of History (36 credit points). Before you can do those senior units, you need to have completed 2 junior units of History, Ancient History or Asian Studies.
Which senior units you chose is entirely up to you; the History department does not require you to take any particular units to complete a major.
A university degree can be awarded with Honours, an award based on outstanding results and advanced study in a subject area.
To be awarded Honours in History, you must complete a major in History (6 senior units of study) and two additional senior History units one of which must be HSTY2691 and have an average grade of Credit in those units. You can then apply for entry to Honours. Once you are admitted, you complete an additional year of study, Fourth Year Honours. In that year, you complete two seminar units of study and a 20,000 word thesis based on original research.
In other words, Honours is an opportunity to get credit for outstanding work, to gain advanced skills in History, to get a feel for what it is like to be a historian and to demonstrate your ability to conceive and complete a large scale research project. More information
Plagiarism is presenting written work that contains sentences, paragraphs or longer sections from published work without acknowledgement. In other cases, students reproduce portions of the work of another student and present it as their own. Plagiarism also occurs when a student borrows, buys or obtains another person's work and submits it as his or her own work.
Furthermore, using the structure of another's argument is also a form of plagiarism, even if the wording is changed. Plagiarism is not just the use of someone else's words, but also someone else's ideas or interpretations, without due acknowledgement.
The History Department encourages students to think for themselves. In assessing your work, we look for evidence of your understanding and capacity for independent thought, so we are always disappointed to discover plagiarism. Our disappointment is only mitigated by the delight of successful detection: academics have very sensitive antennae and there are many clues that will swiftly alert our suspicions. Plagiarism from the Internet, in particular, is absurdly easy to detect.
The Department's first responsibility is educative, and where plagiarism is negligent, we will alert you to the problem and suggest strategies for improvement. Regardless of the reasons for it, however, plagiarised work is never acceptable, and may fail because it does not meet the requirements of academic merit.
Where dishonesty is apparent, the Department may proceed to disciplinary measures. In that case, the Head of School will determine what action will be taken. In the most serious cases, University procedures relating to student misconduct may be invoked and can lead to expulsion.
There is an official procedure for handling cases of plagiarism.
The full text of the Academic Board Policy on Academic Honesty in Coursework may be found here.
An extension is an additional period of time to complete an assignment - i.e. an extension allows you to hand in work after the date it is due without being penalized for lateness.
You are entitled to apply for an extension if you have been ill or if something else beyond your control has prevented you from finishing your assignment. If you are in such a situation, do not hesitate to ask for an extension - your lecturer wants you to do well in your studies and will try to help in any way they can.
Note, the History Department is bound by the SOPHI Policy on Assessment of Coursework, which specifies that "Extensions will not be granted for pressures of outside work or competing academic commitments".
You apply for an extension by choosing the "Simple Extension" option in the Faculty's online system
The policy that applies to all departments in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences penalizes late work at the rate of two marks (out of 100) per working day (ie week day). In this instance, ‘two marks’ means two full points off the awarded mark, not two percent of the awarded mark. For assignments marked out of a maximum total other than 100, the penalty will apply pro rata. For example, for assignments marked out of 40, the penalty will be 0.8 marks per working day.
If you are suffering from an illness or some circumstance beyond your control that you think has effected your performance in an assignment, you can apply to have those circumstances taken into account when your result is determined a process that is called special consideration. You apply for special consideration only after you have completed an assignment; if your circumstances will make it difficult to complete an assignment, you should apply for an extension.
When you apply for special consideration, the information and documentation that you provide is sent to your lecturer, who then makes a decision about whether or not to adjust your result.
All applications for Special Consideration are made via the Faculty's online system.
If you miss an exam because of illness or misadventure you should first notify the department concerned and then apply for Special Consideration using the online system.
If particular circumstances prevent you from completing assignments or attending exams, special arrangements can be made for to do those tasks at a different time or do alternative tasks. You are eligible for special arrangements only for the following reasons:
- essential religious commitments or essential beliefs (including cultural and ceremonial commitments);
- compulsory legal absence (e.g. jury duty, court summons etc)
- sporting or cultural commitments, including political/union commitments, where the student is representing the University, state or nation;
- birth or adoption of a child
- Australian defence force or emergency service commitments (including Army Reserve)
Applications for special arrangements are made via the online Special Consideration system.
You must apply online at least 7 days before the assessment or exam.
A cover sheet is a sheet that must be attached to every assignment that you hand in. Copies of the History Department cover sheet can be found at the SOPHI office, where you hand in assignments.
You need to complete the cover sheet carefully. The information on your unit of study, tutor and the question you have answered are all used to make sure that your essay gets to the correct person for marking. The contact information is used if there are questions or problems with your assignment. The declaration on plagiarism is required as part of the university's Academic Honesty policy; if you do not sign the declaration, your assignment cannot be marked.
On the back of the cover sheet is a marking guide designed to provide feedback on your assignment. There is no direct correlation, however, between the boxes ticked by the marker and your grade i.e. a tick in a particular box is not worth a specific mark.
The university uses five categories of grade: Fail (mark of less than 50), Pass (mark of 50-64), Credit (mark of 65-74), Distinction (mark of 75-84), and High Distinction (mark above 85 and more). What do those grades mean?.
In interpreting your mark you need to remember that an average mark of 65 is required for entry to Honours in other words, if your mark is 65 or more, even if that mark is much less than you are used to getting in school, you have done very well.
Two other grades are used in final results: Absent Fail (AF) (which means that you did not complete all the work required in the unit) and Incomplete (INC) (which means that have not yet completed all the work for the unit, but on medical or other grounds, have been granted extra time to do so. When you complete all the work, an INC grade is replaced with your grade for the unit)
An appeal is a request to have an assignment that you do not feel received an appropriate mark remarked. You are entitled to appeal the grade on any assignment that you complete.
- The first step is to discuss your assignment with the unit of study coordinator; that meeting should happen within twenty days of the assignment being available to you.
- If you are not happy with that discussion, the next step is a formal appeal, which is lodged with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Office and overseen by the Dean. You should make that appeal within twenty days of your meeting with the unit coordinator. A formal appeal requires completing a form and a written statement outlining the reason for your appeal. You can find the form and further information here.
A course reader which is also known as a reading brick is a collection of photocopied articles and extracts from books that are required readings for a unit of study. Course readers are used in most History units of study.
Course readers are available for purchase from the University Copy Centre. A copy is also placed on Special Reserve at Fisher Library.
SOPHI is the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, one of three schools into which departments in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are grouped. The History Department is one of seven departments administered by SOPHI; the department has no administrative staff of its own.
All assignments for units of study in the History department must be handed into the SOPHI office.