Faculty of Arts

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2015 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
Organisational UnitHistory
OfferedNot offered in 2015
Coordinator(s)Dr Adam Clulow


How have commodities shaped the world we live in today? The unit explores a range of key commodities including silver, tobacco, cotton, sugar, coffee, spices and oil that were exchanged across large parts of the world and which came to transform the political, economic and social contours of disparate regions. Through an analysis of the transnational flow of goods across the last 600 years, we will explore the expanding field of Global History and consider the advantages and pitfalls involved in moving beyond the standard boundaries of area studies to make use of new methodologies and historical frames. In addition to exploring the objects of globalisation, the unit also uncovers its agents by focusing on how mercantile companies, smugglers, trade diasporas and a host of other groups facilitated the creation and exploitation of global connections. By weaving together the stories of different commodities, this unit aims to present new ways to understand the development and impact of global capitalism.


On successful completion of this unit, students will:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the field of Global History and be able to identify some of the key approaches used by scholars in the field
  2. Identify long-term economic trends and the role of trade and commodities in shaping global history
  3. Gain an understanding of the continued role of commodities in binding together disparate parts of the world today
  4. Identify the local, national and global impact of commodity exchange and the positive and negative effects long-distance trade has had on different societies
  5. Gain an understanding of the long history of Globalisation and reflect on the different ways in which this term has been used
  6. Demonstrate oral and written skills in constructing evidence-based arguments using a variety of primary and secondary sources
  7. Explore ways in which material objects can be used in the study of history
  8. Demonstrate an ability to reflect critically on what they have learnt


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units.