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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2010 Postgraduate - Course

This course entry should be read in conjunction with information provided in the 'Faculty information' section of this Handbook by the Faculty of Arts

Managing facultyArts
Abbreviated titleGradDipBiog&LifeWrit
CRICOS code041546D
Total credit points required48
Standard duration of study (years)1 year FT, 2 years PT
Study mode and locationOn-campus (Clayton)
Contact details

Liisa Williams Email: Telephone: +61 3 990 52199

Course coordinator

Professor Barbara Caine


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 the accessing of resources and the ways to utilise and design interviews. It will address many of the ethical, moral and legal questions involved in writing biography and life stories. It 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.


Students completing this course will have:

  • an understanding of diverse aspects of the academic discipline
  • an understanding of the world view of the field of study
  • a familiarity with the secondary literature in the field of study
  • a familiarity with many of the key texts and cultural products pertaining to the field of study
  • advanced reading and communication skills, both written and verbal
  • developed sound analytical skills
  • developed the ability to use relevant technology such as databases, information management systems and search engines effectively.


This course consists of one 12-point core unit and three 12-point elective units.


Core unit

  • HYM4270 Research methods in biography and life writing

Elective units

Not all units are available each year. Unless otherwise indicated in the unit outline, all units are taught at Clayton.

  • 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
  • HYM4620 Family history and genealogy
  • HYM4660 Recording oral history: Theory and practice
  • HYM4820 Local and community history
  • HYM4900 History, biography and autobiography
  • HYM4950 Hidden transcripts: Cultural approaches to the past
  • JWM4030 Jewish history, Jewish memory
  • one other approved 12-point unit

Progression to further studies

Students who complete the graduate diploma with a credit average, may apply to transfer to course 3075 Master of Biography and Life Writing.

Alternative exit(s)

After successful completion of 24 points, students may apply to exit the program with a graduate certificate.


Graduate Diploma in Biography and Life Writing