Borneo Cultural Studies

A unit as unique as the island of Borneo itself! You simply won’t find a multi-disciplinary syllabus or set of field trips quite like this anywhere else on earth. We’ve worked very hard to prepare a
taste of this wonderful island that is completely incomparable, while also providing a curriculum that is meaningful and engaging.

Through the passage of two weeks, you’ll be forever changed as you come to understand the geography, natural history, wildlife, society and culture of this wild place. Through studying the myriad of peoples, flora and fauna that call Borneo home you’ll be able to truly understand the island in all its stunning beauty . Your appreciation is enhanced through field trips to Sarawak’s globally acclaimed national parks, including the stunning Miri Sibuti Coastal Reserve and the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Mulu. Come to know and love Borneo in a way that no tourist package or any number of books could ever match. Come study Borneo!

Course Information:

Start Dates Duration Cost Course Code Application
Monthly (TBA) 14 days MYR 5989* (Check Rate) 312658 Apply Now

As an introductory unit, the focus will predominantly be on culture, social organization and history, supplemented with real life experiences amidst communities and societies of contemporary Borneo.This unit will provide a broad description of the geo-cultural and social make-up of Borneo (Sarawak,Sabah,Brunei and Kalimantan). Significant phases in the historical evolution of Borneo will also be covered, such as the Brooke rule, Japanese Occupation, British Colonialism and the Independence Wave. This unit aims to provide sufficient familiarity with the main social,cultural and historical characteristics of Borneo for the pursuit of more advanced understanding, studies or research of particular aspects of Borneo.

 

Topic Summary:

Introduction to Sarawak
Sarawak is rich in history and heritage. It is also known as Land of The Hornbills. The population comprises of local ethnic groups namely Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Melanau and other minor tribes plus the Malays, Chinese and Indians living together in harmony for more than a century. Being the largest state in Malaysia, Sarawak covers a vast area of 124,000 sq-km of land along the northwest coast of Borneo, the third largest island in the world This module is an introduction to Sarawak and her people.

Austronesian Migration
Austronesian languages are spread across half the globe, from Easter Island to Madagascar. Evidence from linguistics and archaeology indicates that the ‘Austronesian expansion,’ which began 4,000–5,000 years ago, likely had roots in Taiwan, but the ancestry of present-day Austronesian-speaking populations remains controversial. This module will take a look at Bellwood’s and Solheim’s theories on the expansion of Austronesian peoples to Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) which includes Borneo.

Intangible Culture-Traditional tattooing:
For Borneo’s Dayak peoples, spirits embody everything: animals, plants, and humans. Many groups have drawn on this power by using images from nature in their tattoos, creating a composite of floral motifs using plants with curative or protective powers and powerful animal images.
Tattoos are created by artists who consult spirit guides to reveal a design. Among Borneo’s Kayan people, women are the artists, a hereditary position passed from mother to daughter. Among the Iban, the largest and once the most feared headhunting group in Borneo, men apply the tattoos. This module will focus on the cultural significance of tattooing to the Dayaks and the future of the art in the 21st century.

Sarawak’s History: Pre-Rajah Rule, Under Rajah Rule and Independence
The history of modern Sarawak is closely related to the adventures of an Englishman, James Brooke after his advent to Sarawak in 1839. However, Sarawak’s history is older than the Brooke Raj.This module will take a look at Sarawak’s history from prehistory to the modern era.
Material Cultures of Borneo-Trade Objects: Their Impacts on the Indigenous Cultures of Sarawak
In Sarawak, old ceramic jars, swords, gongs, beads and beadwork are part of familial heirlooms and are part of Sarawak’s rich cultural heritage. This module will take a look at the importance of trade objects as heirlooms or “pesaka”to the Dayaks.

Intangible Cultures: Traditional Weaving, Plaitwork and Musical instruments
Intangible Cultural Heritage comprises the living expressions and traditions that communities, groups and individuals around the world receive from their ancestors and pass on their knowledge to their descendants. This module will cover the traditional arts of weaving, plaitwork and musical instruments of the tribes in Sarawak.

Download 312658 Outline (PDF)

Teaching and Assessment:

This unit runs over 14 days and learning activities consist of both seminars and field trips. During seminars key concepts and principles will be imparted through interactive teaching and learning activities while, during field trips, these will be clarified through group discussions and practical exercises.

 

Assessments:

Assignment 1: (Individual) – Research Exercise – Choose one specific Indigenous community in Borneo and establish its main characteristics and evolution in terms of history, geography and culture.
Assignment 2: (Individual) – Field Trip Report – You are required to write a detailed report about one of the field trips undertaken as part of the unit. The report should project your experience of the location visited and of the activities carried out there. It should also establish what you have learnt in the process in relation to the Borneo-related topic concerned.
Assignment 3: (Individual) – Journal – You are required to keep a journal of your readings, discussions, writings and experiences in this unit. The format of the journal is open: it may be a handwritten (but legible!) diary or a typed document; visual materials may also be included in the journal.
Assignment 4: (Group) – Presentation – You will be required to deliver, as part of a group, a short presentation relating to any one of the seven modules set in this unit outline. Presentations will be made by groups of 2 and will be between 15 and 20 minutes long.

 

Instructor Information:

Travel Writing – Mr. Terry Justin Dit (Unit Coordinator, Curtin University)
Underwater Photography – Mr. Jean-Paul Mouton (PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor)

 

Eligibility:

For those wishing to take this unit without credit (as offered in partnership with Curtin Consultancy Services), all that is required is a spirit of adventure and a desire to understand Borneo, her peoples, wildlife and natural environment more fully.

Admission to this unit for credit purposes is a two-step process that involves satisfying English prerequisites and also the university’s academic admission requirements.

All Curtin courses are taught in English and applicants must attain a minimum overall IELTS score of 6.5. Additionally, the minimum score for each individual band within IELTS must be 6.0 or higher. Applicants with an IELTS score below 6.5 but at least 5.5. or higher, with no individual band below 5.0, are able to enroll but will be required to take additional Curtin University Fast Track Units. Please send us an email at International Admissions to check if other English language competency tests or school results satisfy our entry requirements.

This page lists the various qualification and minimum entry requirements by country for foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate studies. This list of countries is not exhaustive. If you need information specific to your home country, please don’t hesitate to contact International Admissions.

Computer labs are available throughout the campus, but you may benefit from bringing your own laptop. This unit is presented in English and applicants must be fluent in written and spoken English to complete the assignments.

 

Credits & Progression Pathways:

Completing 312658 – Borneo Cultural Studies may count for 25 credits within the undergraduate Arts/Media program at Curtin University. Speak to you Unit Coordinator for more information.
312658 – Borneo Cultural Studies is also offered internationally by Curtin Consultancy Services in partnership with Curtin University.

Costs:

RM 5989 is the total cost of this unit. This price excludes 6% GST.
This price includes all accommodation for the duration of the course, including accommodation while on field trips and in National Parks. All air, boat and land transfers during the duration of the course are included. Airfares to Miri before the commencement of the course and your flights home at the end of the course are not included. We recommend that you consider booking your flights with our travel partner Brighton Travel and Tours. Daily breakfast is included as are meals on Field Trips. Remaining lunches and dinners are intentionally left open for participants to savour local delicacies at their leisure and own expense. All unit materials and handbooks are included.

 

Accommodation, Transport & Catering:

All transfers, accommodation and catering are by Curtin University or it’s partners. Accommodation while in Miri is in a local hotel and the price is based on twin rooms per person sharing. Rooms have internet facilities and students will have full usage of gym and swimming pool facilities. Students will receive coffee, tea and water in rooms daily, along with a daily local newspaper. There is 24 hr room service, safe deposit boxes, laundry and dry cleaning services, currency exchange, postal and concierge services. Students can request to be housed in private rooms at additional cost.

Vegetarian, vegan and/or halal meal options are available. Alcoholic beverages are not included in catered meals. Transfer is by air-conditioned coach. Travel guides, fluent in English and local languages, will accompany students on all field trips, and will be able to assist with interviewing and research.

 

Visa & Insurance Requirements:

Every person entering Malaysia must possess a valid Passport or internationally recognized Travel Document valid. The document shall be valid, for more than six (6) months from the date of entry into Malaysia.

Students are advised to check the respective visa requirements for their nationalities at the Malaysia Department of Immigration . Curtin Sarawak does not offer immigration services for Flexible Study Units.

While every effort is made to ensure that your flexible study experience is a safe and happy one, unexpected events can occur. Although travel insurance is probably the last thing on your mind with the excitement of your upcoming adventure, it can provide you with peace of mind that you and your belongings are covered in the event of an emergency and therefore must be one of the key components of your time in Borneo. As a result we have made travel insurance a prerequisite of your flexible study with us. This means that ALL of students must have adequate travel insurance for all elements of their tour before they travel.

While every effort is made to ensure that your flexible study experience is a safe and happy one, unexpected events can occur. Although travel insurance is probably the last thing on your mind with the excitement of your upcoming adventure, it can provide you with peace of mind that you and your belongings are covered in the event of an emergency and therefore must be one of the key components of your time in Borneo. As a result we have made travel insurance a prerequisite of your flexible study with us. This means that ALL of students must have adequate travel insurance for all elements of their tour before they travel.

 

Getting to Miri:

There are a choice of airlines and frequent flights departing from Miri’s International Airport. Malaysia Airlines, MASwings and Air Asia connect Miri with Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Johor Bahru, and Labuan. From both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore connections to most international destinations are possible. We recommend that you consider booking your flights with our travel partner Brighton Travel and Tours.

MOODLE

MOODLE is an online Learning System provided for students & lecturers in Curtin University Sarawak Malaysia. This is a place where Students & Lecturers can interact with each others, interchange suggestions and ideas, and also getting learning materials from Lecturers. Please follow the Moodle link in the top right hand corner of this page to login.

 

Library Resources

The Library is situated on Curtin’s Sarawak campus at Chancellery Building. Please follow the links below for further information:

General Library Information

Accessing the Library’s Free Databases 

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