Local, Family and Applied History


Our family, our community, our locality, our region: we shape our sense of who we are partly by the people and places who surround us and with whom we live. Their stories are part of us, and to understand those stories is to understand ourselves and to imagine and explore the links between past, present and future.

The local, family and applied history awards and units taught at UNE offer a varied and stimulating way to engage with different aspects of these past and present lives. They introduce a range of sources, encourage fieldwork, explore different ways of researching and presenting the past, and establish networks among local, family and applied history enthusiasts around Australia.

The awards and units are available at different levels of study. There is a named undergraduate award for those with no experience of tertiary education, and a named postgraduate diploma for those with a university degree. Units in local family and applied history can also be studied in other undergraduate awards, in Masters by coursework and as the focus of research higher degrees.

Why study Local, Family and Applied History at UNE?

The teaching of local, family and applied history at UNE has a long and distinguished history beginning with the pioneering work of Dr Lionel Gilbert at the Armidale College of Advanced Education in the early 1980s. This was arguably the first time a tertiary education institution in Australia dared to introduce these popular history areas as part of its teaching and research profile.

Over the years, the content of the courses has evolved as the subject area has encountered new issues, new debates and new methodologies.  However, the principles laid down by Lionel Gilbert in the early 1980s are still fundamental. These include:

  • Study is done by distance education.
  • Students draw on their own communities and family histories for many of their assignments.
  • Developing skills in oral history, critical reading, good writing, analysing historical sources, interpreting and displaying objects, and understanding buildings, cemeteries and landscapes are of central importance.
  • Local and family histories are placed in the context of wider Australian history and of historical developments throughout the western world.



Advanced Diploma In Local, Family and Applied History

Local, family and applied history units can also be studied in the following awards:
Advanced Diploma in Arts
Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Business
Bachelor of Arts/ Bachelor of Laws
Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science
Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching
Bachelor of Historical Inquiry and Practice


Bachelor of Arts with Honours


Graduate Diploma in Local, Family and Applied History

Local, family and applied history units can also be studied in the following awards:
Graduate Certificate in Arts
Master of Arts
Master of History

Postgraduate Research

Master of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy


ARPA104   Archaeology: Studying the Human Past
HIST150   Colonial Australia
HIST151   Modern Australia
HIST165   Europe and the New World
HIST195   Asian Pasts
HINQ100   What is History?
HINQ101   The Historian
HINQ201   Researching and Applying History
HIST330   Local and Community Histories
HIST332   History as Film
HIST333   Waking the Dead: Death, Burials and Memorials
HIST335   Heritage Conservation
HIST337   History and Museums
HIST338   Australian Frontiers; Rural and Regional Histories
HIST339   The Family in History
HIST376   Oral History


UNE local, family and applied history awards are well established and well recognised. They provide skills and qualifications that open doors in the worlds of history and heritage consultancies, local museums, family and local history organizations and activities, local council planning and heritage, teaching history, and much more.

Partnerships, Networks and Industry Links

Australian Garden History Society
Australian Historical Association 
Federation of Australian Historical Societies
History Council of NSW
International Oral History Association
Journal of Australian Colonial History
National Trust of Australia
NSW Heritage Office
NSW Migration Heritage Centre
Oral History Association of Australia
Royal Australian Historical Society
Society of Australian Genealogists 


Over the years and currently, lecturers in the courses are prominent in the fields in which they teach.  They research, publish, provide workshops, initiate community projects, develop exhibitions and websites, give public lectures and talks, contribute to historical associations and much more.

Staff also contribute to the UNE Heritage Futures Research Centre which conducts cross-disciplinary research into the fields of natural and cultural heritage and local/regional identity.

As well, our graduates and postgraduates have published and presented the results of their university work in journals, books, exhibitions and in other media.


Enquiries about Local, Family and Applied History at UNE can be made to:

Academic Coordinator, Local, Family and Applied History
Assoc. Professor Janis Wilton OAM
Ph: +61-2-6773 2107