Skip to content | Change text size

print version

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 titleMBiog&LifeWrit
CRICOS code041553E
Total credit points required72
Standard duration of study (years)1.5 years FT, 3 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 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.


Students successfully completing this course will have:

  • a sound knowledge of diverse aspects of the academic discipline
  • an understanding of the world view of the field of study
  • a critical appreciation of 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
  • advanced analytical skills
  • 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.


This course consists of three level four elective units, a core unit at level four or five and a 24-point research project. Note, not all units are available each year.


Core unit

Research Project

Students complete both of the following 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


  • 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

Alternative exit(s)

Students may apply to exit the program after successful completion of:

  • 24 points with a Graduate Certificate in Arts.
  • 48 points with course 3074 Graduate Diploma in Biography and Life Writing.


Master of Biography and Life Writing