Indigenous studies Society, history and languages

Indigenous studies Society, history and languages

A diverse, interdisciplinary area of study, Indigenous studies draws on a large body of global literature to understand Indigenous society, culture and identities in the contemporary world.

At Macquarie you’ll learn how to think outside assumptions and understand issues from an Indigenous perspective. You’ll learn how to draw on these important understandings in your career.


Postgraduate Courses


Sorry, this course information is currently unavailable.

Careers in Indigenous studies

  • Aboriginal access worker
  • case worker
  • community liaison officer
  • health worker
  • Indigenous advocate
  • Indigenous rights officer
  • Indigenous support worker
  • legal adviser (with further study)
  • program development officer
  • project officer
  • public policy officer
  • researcher
  • teacher (with further study)
  • youth adviser

Professional experience

Connect with your future career through PACE

At Macquarie, learning doesn't just happen in the classroom. With PACE (Professional and Community Engagement) you can gain real-world experience and get ahead in the career queue.

PACE provides opportunities for undergraduate students at Macquarie University to gain practical experience by working with industry partners on mutually beneficial projects. No matter what you decide to study, PACE has an opportunity available for you. Learn more about the opportunities available through PACE.

Student experience

Sharon Kerr

Sharon Kerr

Master of Indigenous Education

“As a non-Indigenous person involved in serving Indigenous students, I realised that I had much to learn in order to serve effectively in my role. I enrolled in the Master of Indigenous Education to gain knowledge and appreciation of Indigenous history, cultures, languages, ways of knowing and ways of doing. The course changed my life and made me a much more effective practitioner. As a result of this course I will always be committed to cultural safety in both the workplace and learning environment.”

Wayne Charters

Master of Indigenous Education

"The Master of Indigenous Education is the best course I have ever done. I have enjoyed studying education and history/politics in the past, but this is another level of understanding. The wide range of topics and readings related to Indigenous Education are fascinating, sometimes heart wrenching but ultimately informative and enlightening. I cannot think of any profession or person who would not benefit from doing the Master of Indigenous Education. I also now have even more respect for the keepers of knowledge."

Wayne is a descendant of the Wiradjuri Nation.

Our expertise in Indigenous studies

Ms Corrine Franklin

Ms Corrinne Franklin

Lecturer in Indigenous Studies

Corrinne is an Indigenous woman from the Wiradjuri Nation, New South Wales, Australia. Her research interests are multi-disciplinary and focus broadly on experiences and effects of body and Identity in relation to Indigenous Australian people. Corrinne's knowledge stems from the disciplines of Indigenous Studies and Human Geography, and she utilises both to understand the ways in which Indigenous people are affected by their experiences of space and place.

See Ms Franklin's full profile

Jessa belongs to the very small pool of Australia's Indigenous educators. In her article for The Guardian, Jessa noted that Indigenous teachers form  only 1% of the teaching community, while Indigenous students make up 5% of the student population.

She says, "It has been clear for a number of years that programs aimed at increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educators are badly needed. It's an absolute need as all Australians are lacking knowledge about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, me included. We can start with teachers in schools"

"Having more Indigenous teachers is a key factor in fostering student engagement and improving educational outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students," added Jessa.

Jessa has been involved in MATSITI (More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Initiative), a four-year program to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people entering and remaining in professional teaching positions in Australian schools. Now in its final year, MATSITI had been developing strategies that enhance the professional and leadership capabilities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers.

Indigenous Education at Macquarie

At Macquarie, Jessa rewrote and teaches the INED802 Contemporary Issues in Indigenous Education unit which is studied within the Master of Indigenous Education program. The INED802 unit enables students to examine ways educators can form essential connections with Indigenous parents, guardians, families and communities, and to look at ways in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, peoples and cultures can be woven through curriculum.

"Looking at the Australian Curriculum CCP and AITSL Professional Teaching Standards 1.4 and 2.4, this [unit] focuses on the practical aspects of Indigenous education that teachers and educators can implement, and the ways in which they can go about embedding Indigenous perspectives in meaningful ways," says Jessa. "This is important as many teachers working in schools are underprepared to meet these standards."

Macquarie is the only university in Australia to offer a masters degree in Indigenous Education. This program provides students the skills and knowledge required to provide a culturally appropriate education to Indigenous Australian students, as well as teach non-Indigenous students about Indigenous issues, people and culture.

The Master of Indigenous Education, Jessa explains, is a great starting point toward a career in Indigenous and policy making.

"We have a lot of Indigenous educators taking this course and [many of them] currently work with Indigenous students. This makes learning real because students are sharing real-life examples and using these for their assessment which is structured to be relevant and useful to their teaching/learning contexts."

By learning about the policies, practices and issues relating to Indigenous education, students of Master of Indigenous Education are empowered to help close the gap between the educational outcomes of Indigenous students and other students.

Jessa says, "It is essential to start Indigenous studies courses with reflection on how your own worldview was created, your own cultural ways of viewing the world, and consideration of how your own worldview impacts teaching and learning, for Indigenous and non-Indigenous teachers and students of all levels in schools and universities."

"I have devoted myself to education because our people deserve better. Our kids deserve culturally relevant schooling, and they deserve true opportunities to show their excellence. Our youth are amazing, and if I can play a small part in improving their lives and futures, I'll be happy with that."

Jessa Rogers is a Wiradjuri woman, Naidoc committee member, and Reconciliation scholar at ANU. She is currently undertaking PhD focusing on Indigenous research. She is developing an Indigenous research method termed Photoyarn which incorporates student photographs to lead the yarning circles in the research process.

Built as a permanent feature on campus it provides a culturally safe place for yarns, community meetings and other Indigenous events. The sacred space acknowledges the significance of this style of sharing for Aboriginal people as a way of handing down knowledge.

Hosted by the Department of Indigenous Studies, the launch event saw Vice-Chancellor Professor S Bruce Dowton joined by members of the Darug nation for the unveiling of the 'learning circle'. The event commenced with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony conducted by respected Elder Lexodious Dadd (known as Uncle Lex), followed by a traditional dance performance, and the unveiling of a plaque to mark the continuation of our relationship.

In achieving this milestone, Aunty Elaine Chapman and Emily Sutton have both worked and studied together in the University's Department of Indigenous Studies. The 67 year old and 28 year old have brought different perspectives to their studies, but have enjoyed learning, and now graduating, together.

"Whilst the course is offered externally we always joked about me being on campus all the time with my work!" says Emily. "I am exceptionally proud to be standing alongside Aunty Elaine as the first Indigenous graduates of the program – she is such an inspiration and mentor to me."

Both women also enjoyed graduation ceremony itself, with family and friends from around Australia joining them on campus.

"I'm really excited," says Emily. "I didn't attend my undergraduate ceremony as I had moved overseas so this will be my first graduation."

"My son is in the Northern Territory," says Aunty Elaine, "but he will be with me in spirit, as he is also doing the Master of Indigenous Education."

Aunty Elaine, employed as Macquarie's Elder in Residence, studied the Master of Indigenous Education because she loves learning about her history and culture.

"This degree allowed me to explore and study not only my Aboriginal history, past, present and future but also to compare this to other First Nations histories world wide," Aunty Elaine says.

"After retiring in 2000 I was inspired and pushed into entering the educational arena by an Aboriginal teacher at TAFE, Annie Vanderwick. Annie expected the best from her students and pushed Aunty Anita Selwyn and I to go from Certificates 1, 2 and 3 in Aboriginal studies to a Diploma of Aboriginal History then a Bachelor of Community Management.

"Now I have completed my Masters, I am very proud to be graduating at this ceremony and presenting the Student Response. It has been a long and challenging journey but with the help, encouragement and support of family and Warawara, I have made it!"

The Master of Indigenous Education program is the only postgraduate degree of its kind in Australia. It provides an in-depth understanding of the historical, contemporary and global issues faced by Indigenous Australia, to help in developing effective teaching practices and policies for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

After graduation, both Emily and Aunty Elaine hope to continue their work in supporting Indigenous students through their degrees and exploring their culture.

"Having now completed this exciting learning journey I intend to use the knowledge gained to help our young Indigenous students to embrace their culture with pride and enthusiasm and hopefully encourage them to explore their options for tertiary education," says Aunty Elaine.

"In my role as Elder in Residence I have the privilege of spending time with our students as well as within my local Aboriginal community to encourage these young people to achieve their highest potential."

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