Subject Areas

Subject areas are the disciplinary areas that you can study as majors, minors, streams, specialisations or courses.

As a student at UNSW Arts & Social Sciences, you have access to a diverse range of study areas which can be completed as part of your chosen degree. With over 26 to choose from, the choice really is yours!

For further details about our Bachelor programs visit our undergraduate degrees and our dual degrees section.

Asian Studies

Develop an in-depth understanding of the Asian region and Australia’s place in it

Asian Studies is designed to grow your knowledge of Asia as a whole and the different historical, political, economic, social and cultural developments that have defined the continent.

Improve your intercultural communication skills and prepare yourself for a successful career as an Asia-literate graduate.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the Asian Studies discipline hub

Australian Studies

Explore Australian history and culture

You will undertake study across a broad range of areas and disciplines to gain a deep understanding of our nation and its people, past, present and future. You will be introduced to Australian Studies through the course Australian Legends taking key themes in the Australian imaginary - such as the Fatal Shore, the Bush Legend, the Anzac Legend, the Lucky Country, a Man’s World - and examining their contemporary usages in advertising, politics and popular culture.

Australian Studies is an interdisciplinary program with courses from a range of areas including history, media, literature, art history and film studies.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the Australian Studies discipline hub

Chinese Studies

Develop your skills in a language spoken by hundreds of millions of people around the world

Mandarin Chinese not only has a rich cultural heritage but is increasingly important in global business and international relations.

As entry is flexible, beginner courses will focus on Chinese language skills and grammar based on a communicative approach. Courses at Intermediate, Advanced and Professional levels maintain and develop language skills while providing in-depth studies in Chinese culture and history.

Degree options

Creative Writing

Stretch your creative capacity

Develop skills that allow you to write across a wide variety of styles and genres. Edit your own work and the work of others, challenge yourself and stretch your creative capacity.

Degree options

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Visit the Creative Writing discipline hub

Criminology

Gain a critical understanding of crime and justice issues in our society

As a Criminology student you will gain a critical understanding of crime and justice issues in our society including victimisation, juvenile justice, drug-related harm, community safety, indigenous justice and organised crime.

Use insights from a range of disciplines including philosophy, psychology and social science to investigate key issues. You will be challenged to understand how research and policy can be applied to develop a greater understanding of criminological issues and also how they can assist in bringing about social change to benefit communities.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the Criminology discipline hub 

Development Studies

Get an international perspective

Development Studies is an interdisciplinary area covering a wide range of aspects of life in developing countries, their development process, and relationships with the rest of the world. Form an international perspective as you learn about culture, language, history, economies and geography.

In introductory courses you will discuss the meaning of development, examine different theoretical approaches to development, trace the history of development as a practice and consider contemporary issues in development. You will also be introduced to the major development strategies pursued by developing nation states following the Second World War to the present.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the Development Studies discipline hub 

English

Delve into literature and literary culture

You will encounter extraordinary works of literature which challenge, inspire and stimulate

the process of informed and critical reading. Develop expertise in textual and contextual

analysis, the mechanics of writing and the shifting currents of aesthetic meaning.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the English and Literary Studies discipline hub 

Environmental Humanities

Explore the relationship between human society and the rest of the environment

Humans have constructed and transformed the environment through their social and technological systems. Humanities disciplines give increasing attention to environmental matters as crises such as climate change become more pressing. You will gain a holistic understanding of contemporary environmental concerns as your draw on schools of thought including history, philosophy, politics, sociology, geography, science, law and economics to gain a holistic understanding of contemporary environmental concerns.

The program will also develop your critical thinking capacities about the relationship between human society and the rest of the environment, and assist you in discussing and writing coherently about the complexity of environmental change.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the Environmental Humanities discipline hub

European Studies

Discover the forces that shape modern Europe

European Studies focuses on the political, economic, ideological and cultural forces that have shaped modern Europe. Special attention is given to themes such as European political and economic integration, European imperialism and its demise, the role of European powers in international affairs, and the rise of totalitarian ideologies and regimes.

The European Studies program has a strong interdisciplinary foundation and offers subjects taught in history, philosophy, politics, international relations, political economy, literature and languages.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the European Studies discipline hub

Film Studies

Combine the practical with the historical, theoretical and cross-cultural aspects of film

Learn the practical skills of video production whilst studying the historical, theoretical and cross-cultural aspects of film. UNSW Film Studies staff includes film theorists, film historians, and practitioners who are committed to pursuing innovative research in the field.

Areas of specialisation include film and critical theory, American independent cinema, comedy, film performance, documentary, and a range of national and regional cinemas.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the Film Studies discipline hub

French Studies

Cultural awareness and critical thinking

French Studies will equip you with French communication skills as well as teaching you about the structure and function of this popular European language. The program will develop your cultural awareness and critical thinking through the study of French literature, linguistics and culture.

UNSW offers a comprehensive beginners program which will teach you to speak and understand French in common everyday situations. Reading skills are introduced gradually. Courses at Intermediate, Advanced and Professional levels maintain and develop communicative language skills while providing in-depth studies in French civilisation, French literature and French language studies.

Degree options

German Studies

Learn about the German language, history, society and culture

German is the most widely spoken native tongue in Europe and knowledge of the language is your gateway this fascinating modern European society.

As entry is flexible, beginner’s courses will focus on German language skills and grammar. If you have a previous knowledge of German you will be able to combine core language courses with contextual courses on German and European history, society and culture.

Degree options

Indigenous Studies

Indigenous Studies at Nura Gili

Indigenous Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study that offers students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the history and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Nura Gili is the Indigenous Programs Unit at UNSW and offer a Major and a Minor in Indigenous Studies within the Bachelor of Arts and related programs.

For more information about Indigenous Studies visit the Nura Gili Indigenous Studies website.

History

Study the past to better shape the future.

Our internationally recognised historians draw out broad patterns and trends from the bewildering variety of evidence from the past. History at UNSW covers social, cultural, intellectual, political and military history.

Initially you will be introduced to the study of world history, its major themes and processes through the introductory course The Big Picture: An Introduction to World History. This course provides an overview of human experience from earliest beginnings to the mid-19th century; you can then follow world history through the course The History Matrix: The Making of the Modern World, which covers the period 1850-2000. At upper levels you can study History through specific geographic regions and themes through a range of electives.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the History discipline hub

International Relations

The study of contemporary world politics

A contemporary and dynamic discipline, International Relations is the study of politics at the international, cross-national, transnational, regional and global level. UNSW International Relations graduates have an advanced understanding of contemporary world politics and are encouraged to be critical and creative thinkers.

Introductory courses provide students with an initial overview of International Relations while upper level courses are offered in global politics, global security, global economy as well as specialist areas.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the International Relations discipline hub

Japanese Studies

Discover Japan - the language, the culture, the history

Japanese Studies at UNSW produce graduates with practical and professional Japanese language skills as well as a detailed understanding of the development of Japanese civilisation and Japan’s place in East Asia and contemporary culture. You will be taught by academics who have expertise in Japanese language education, linguistics, business Japanese, and Japanese culture.

Courses offered in Japanese Studies include topics ranging from Japanese cultural development, contemporary society, and popular culture to Japan’s position in East Asia.

Degree options

Korean Studies

Korean language skills and cultural knowledge

At UNSW we offer one of the most active Korean Studies programs in the region. Opportunities for graduates with Korean language skills and cultural knowledge are continuing to grow as the South Korean economy develops and increasingly close ties with Australia are formed.

As entry is flexible, beginners courses will focus on Korean language skills and grammar. If you have a previous knowledge of Korean you will be able to combine core language courses with contextual courses and history, society and culture.

Degree options

Linguistics

The teaching and learning of language

Linguistics provides a basis for a variety of practical applications, including the teaching and learning of foreign languages, translating and interpreting, facilitating intercultural communication, diagnosing and treating language disorders, developing language curricula in schools and improving literacy skills.

Linguistics addresses questions such as: What is the biological basis for language? Is language unique to the human species? How and why do languages change?

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the Linguistics discipline hub 

Media, Culture and Technology

Discover the new media landscape

Social media, mobile media, media on demand, evolving media platforms – this new landscape is complex, fragmented and dynamic. You will develop an understanding of the social, political and cultural impacts of media and communications technologies.

You can also incorporate specific aspects of media cultures into the major, such as Film Studies, Theatre and Performance Studies. 

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the Media discipline hub 

Music Studies

Music as art

People ‘make music’ in various ways: as performers, composers, producers, and curators or in their various combinations. Music making requires not only technical and stylistic mastery but also an engagement with the fundamental issues that make music one of the most complex and universal forms of human behaviour. This includes Music’s status as art, as a psychological and cultural experience, and as an agent of social action and change.

Degree options

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Visit the Music discipline hub

Philosophy

Tackle the big questions about the nature of existence, knowledge and morality

Develop your reasoning and critical thinking skills. Philosophy courses are designed to help you form habits of clear and imaginative thought. This is done by presenting a range of contemporary and traditional philosophical thought and using key texts from important philosophical traditions.

Philosophy at UNSW is a discipline with world-class researchers in key areas including epistemology, metaphysics and contemporary moral, social and political thought. UNSW Philosophers are committed to presenting philosophical issues as live, accessible and practical.

Degree Options

Find out more

Visit the Philosophy discipline hub

Politics

Learn how to analyse and understand politics

Study political action, ideas, institutions and actors from both local and global governments on a range of issues including the economy, environment and society. Politics at UNSW equips students with the ability to describe, analyse and understand the politics of Australia and of the global community.

Introductory courses give students an initial overview of International Relations and Australian Politics, upper level courses expand on these topics and students will also be able to broaden their knowledge in areas such as Political Science, World Policy and Globalisation.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the Political Science discipline hub

Sociology and Anthropology

Understanding society and culture

The disciplines of Sociology and Anthropology explore the social and cultural realities of life in all its forms. Investigate areas such as social theory, cultural studies, media and policy related studies to give you a greater understanding of society and culture.

Sociology and Anthropology at UNSW is unique for bringing the two disciplines together, through curriculum design and team teaching. Studying Sociology and Anthropology will provide an enhanced understanding of, and participation in the world; valuable skills necessary for employment in any field where observation, critical analysis and evaluation are important; and enhanced written and spoken communication.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the Sociology and Anthropology discipline hub

Spanish & Latin American Studies

Unlock the Spanish-speaking world

Spanish is one of the world’s major languages, spoken in Spain, Latin America and in the United States. Hispanic Studies will provide you with an informed understanding of the Spanish-speaking world through the study of language, literature, civilisation, and history.

As entry is flexible, beginner courses will focus on Spanish language skills and grammar based on a communicative approach. If you have a previous knowledge of Spanish courses at Intermediate, Advanced and Professional levels maintain and develop language skills while providing in-depth studies in Hispanic culture and history.

Degree options

Theatre and Performance Studies

Enter a world of exciting performance genres

You will encounter an exciting range of performance genres – from contemporary theatre, multimedia performance and popular culture to Australian theatre, theatre criticism and theatre history.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the Theatre and Performance Studies discipline hub

Women's and Gender Studies

Learn about past and present feminism and gender issues

Raise your awareness of past and present feminism and gender issues, as well as how they have influenced racism, sexism and other discriminatory activities. Women’s and Gender Studies is one of a number of interdisciplinary programs with courses offered by a variety of areas, including History, Philosophy, English, Politics, Sociology and Anthropology, and Languages and Linguistics.

Initially you will be introduced to Women’s and Gender Studies through the course Gendered Worlds which will present you with women’s world history, and gender analysis.

Degree options

Find out more

Visit the Women's and Gender Studies discipline hub

External Areas

External areas are offered by the Faculty is some of our degrees.

These include: