Exploring Australian Indigenous Studies

As an international student in Australia, you have a unique opportunity to learn about the world’s oldest continuous cultures by choosing Australian Indigenous Studies.

8 November 2023

Two people learning about Aboriginal rock art from a guide. Credit Tourism Australia

Image credit: Tourism Australia

Indigenous Studies offer a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and history. You can enrol in Indigenous Studies at an Australian university, as a major, minor or elective studies. There are also options to study Australian Indigenous Studies through a Vocational Education and Training (VET) course

As well as providing a unique perspective, Australian Indigenous Studies can also support professional and career development in many areas such as education, allied health, media, social welfare, community engagement and local government.


One of the key aspects of Indigenous Studies is the historic, political struggle for racial equality, land rights and heritage control, including landmark legal cases. 

Some of the other areas you may cover are: 

  • Indigenous culture and connections to land and waterways
  • the impact of colonisation on First Nations people
  • adaptation since the arrival of European settlers
  • literature and film 
  • linguistics
  • issues for Indigenous groups in regional Australia.

What skills you will learn 

Indigenous Studies can give you valuable skills and knowledge for your career, such as: 

  • a transferrable set of skills for working collaboratively across different cultures
  • the ability to communicate in culturally responsive and sensitive ways 
  • skills in critical analysis, research and teamwork. 

Learning ‘on country’

Some Indigenous Studies courses offer the opportunity to learn ‘on country’. This is where class learning takes place on the ancestral lands of Australian Indigenous communities. This is designed to provide a deeper understanding of connections to land, culture and heritage. 

Learning on country is a holistic experience that includes field visits, interactions with Indigenous elders and engagement with the physical environment. 

Other ways to learn about Indigenous culture

There are also many opportunities for you to expand your knowledge outside of the classroom. Museums, festivals and cultural tours offer immersive experiences for learning about Indigenous history and culture firsthand. 

Some education providers also offer these opportunities as part of their extracurricular programs, such as walking tours, art projects and free online courses.

Acknowledging and honouring Indigenous culture in the community

In Australia, there are significant events and practices that acknowledge and honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. 

  • National Sorry Day takes place on 26 May each year. It is a day dedicated to acknowledging the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were taken from their families and communities, known as ‘The Stolen Generations’.  
  • National NAIDOC Week is held in the first week of July each year. The week-long event is a celebration of Indigenous culture, history and achievements, with events held across Australia. 
  • Acknowledgement of Country is a practice that recognises the traditional owners and custodians of the land before events, meetings and gatherings, including on campus. 

Search for Indigenous Study options 

Start exploring your study options about the oldest living cultures in the world. Head to our Course Search tool and search for Indigenous Studies.  Or speak to your education provider about opportunities to take Indigenous Studies as an elective. 


You may also like