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HIST431 Special Topic: Constituting New Zealand: Political and Legal History

A seminar on the political and legal history of New Zealand, focusing on issues of state-formation and sovereignty

Special Topic: Constituting New Zealand: legal and political history

This course, for Honours or Master’s students, provides in-depth discussion of critical issues in the constitution of New Zealand’s political and legal landscape. We examine historical debates on the Treaty of Waitangi and native title, on New Zealand within the British empire, and as an imperial project in the South Pacific, on Australasian federation, citizenship in the twentieth century and the making of independent foreign policy among other issues. The focus is on themes of state-formation and sovereignty.

This paper is 100% internally assessed.

Paper title Special Topic: Constituting New Zealand: Political and Legal History
Paper code HIST431
Subject History
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,206.91
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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Pre or Corequisite
36 300-level HIST points

Dr Miranda Johnson -

Teaching staff

Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Dr Miranda Johnson

Course materials will be made available electronically.
Course outline

Available via Blackboard.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will:

  • Have a critical awareness of key debates about state-formation, constitutional history, and significant legal and political processes in New Zealand’s past and present
  • Be able to contextualise New Zealand’s political past and present in reference to debates about state formation, colonial and imperial statehood, and concepts of sovereignty from other parts of the world
  • Be able to historicise and/or draw on useful historical examples in order to understand present-day debates and developments, particularly concerning Māori sovereignty and New Zealand’s location in the Pacific region
  • Have learned how to carry out primary and secondary research in libraries and archives

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system