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Handbooks Courses Units
Monash University

Master of Biography and Life Writing

Course code: 3075 ~ Course abbreviation: MBiog&LifeWrit ~ Total credit points required: 72 ~ 1.5 years full-time, 3 years part-time ~ Managing faculty: Arts

Study mode and course location

On-campus (Clayton)

Course description

This course will explore many of the theoretical and practical issues involved in reading and writing biographies and life stories. It will include practical questions about accessing resources and the ways to utilise and design interviews, and will address many of the ethical, moral and legal questions involved in writing biography and life stories. The course will also offer students an understanding of some of the ways in which psychoanalysis, feminist theory and postcolonial studies have affected the understanding of biography and life writing. Students will explore the history of biography and autobiography and some of the different ways in which biographies have been constructed and written. The use of life stories in history and sociology will also be discussed. The course will involve research and writing a biography or a life story.

Course objectives

Students successfully completing this course will have: 1. a sound knowledge of diverse aspects of the academic discipline; 2. an understanding of the world view of the field of study; 3. a critical appreciation of the secondary literature in the field of study; 4. a familiarity with many of the key texts and cultural products pertaining to the field of study; 5. advanced reading and communication skills, both written and verbal; 6. advanced analytical skills; 7. a grasp of research methodology and ethics, and an ability to undertake a small, independent research project in one of the disciplines represented in the program.

Minimum pass grade

To graduate with the Masters, students must gain a credit (60 C) or above in core units and a minimum credit average overall.

Course structure

Students complete 72 points, including three level 4 elective units, a core unit at level 4 or five and a 24-point research project. Note, not all units are available each year. Unless otherwise indicated in the unit outline, all units are taught at Clayton.

Course requirements

Core units

  • HYM4270 Research methods in biography and life writing, or HYM5270 Research methods in biography and life writing

Research Project

Students complete both Part 1 and Part 2 (24 points in total). They can be completed in separate semesters or both in the same semester.

  • HYM5480A Research project in biography and life writing (12 points) - Part 1
  • HYM5480B Research project in biography and life writing (12 points) - Part 2

Level 4 electives

  • HYM4120 Reading and writing Australian history
  • HYM4200 History and memory: Oral history, life stories and commemoration
  • HYM4280 Reading and writing biography and life stories
  • HYM4290 Holocaust memories: Landscape, mourning, identity
  • HYM4560 The past around us (online)
  • HYM4620 Family history and genealogy (online and face-to-face at Caulfield)
  • HYM4660 Recording oral history: Theory and practice
  • HYM4820 Local and community history (online and face-to-face at Caulfield)
  • HYM4900 History, biography and autobiography
  • HYM4950 Hidden transcripts: Cultural approaches to the past
  • HYM4960 The body, gender and history
  • JWM4030 Jewish history and Jewish memory: Writing and reading the Jewish past
  • one other approved 12-point unit

Exit points

Students may be offered an exit award of a Graduate Certificate of Arts after successful completion of 24 points, or a Graduate Diploma in Biography and Life Writing after successful completion of 48 points.

Course coordinator

Professor Barbara Caine