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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 titleMOralHist
CRICOS code064800E
Total credit points required72
Standard duration of study (years)1.5 years FT, 3 years PT
Study mode and locationOn-campus (Caulfield)
Contact details

Professor Alistair Thomson, School of Historical Studies, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia;


phone + 03-99059785.

Course coordinator

Professor Alistair Thomson


  • Students undertake fieldwork which may require travel off-campus.


Oral history illuminates the lived experience of hidden histories and produces riveting historical documentary in books, radio and television, museum exhibitions and multi-media production. It is also a powerful tool for exploring historical memory - 'how people make sense of their past, how they connect individual experience and its social context, how the past becomes part of the present, and how people use it to interpret their lives and the world around them'. Historical memory has become central to the contemporary cultural politics of witnessing, commemoration and reconciliation. This innovative course, taught by international leaders in the field, integrates the study of oral history and historical memory. It develops high-level skills and understandings in the theory and practice of oral history, and in inter-disciplinary approaches to the creation and use of historical memory by individuals, communities and nations. Students will consider national and international case studies and literature in the field of oral history and historical memory, and can take electives in the related fields of public history and life writing, and will develop practical and vocational skills through work placements and interview projects. Graduates will be fully prepared to undertake research degrees involving oral history and historical memory, and may go on to work in the wide range of fields that make significance use of oral history and historical memory, including museums, television, radio and multi-media production, heritage and corporate history, community and family history.


Students successfully completing this course will have:

  • a comprehensive critical understanding of debates about the nature of autobiographical memory and its use as a research source, and about the nature and significance of historical memory as represented through a range of sites and forms
  • a thorough grasp of oral history theory and method and the capacity to successfully complete and critically evaluate a research project involving oral history and historical memory
  • a thorough grasp of the skills and understandings required in the use of oral history within at least one community or cultural industry context
  • strong skills in critical oral and written assessment of the academic scholarship, and in organising and defending a verbal and written argument based upon those assessments.


During the two core units students will conduct and evaluate oral history fieldwork (ethical approval will have been granted).


This course consists of two core units and additional elective units to a total value of 72 points. Students complete a maximum of 48 points at level four and minimum of 24 points at level five. All units except where indicated are worth 12 points.


Level four

Students complete:

  • HYM4200 History and memory: Oral history, life stories and commemoration
  • HYM4660 Recording oral history: Theory and practice

plus two elective units at level four from the following or other approved School of Historical Studies units:

  • HYM4095 History and heritage
  • HYM4280 Reading and writing biography and life stories
  • HYM4290 Holocaust memories: Landscape, mourning, identity
  • HYM4510 History and the museum
  • HYM4620 Family history and genealogy
  • HYM4770 Representing genocides: Media, testimony, history
  • HYM4820 Local and community history
  • HYM4900 History, biography and autobiography

Level five

Students complete one of the following options (24 points):*

  • HYM5170 Public History placement (or an additional elective from the above list at level five), and HYM5070 Research project in history
  • HYM5105 Research project in history* (part-time students take HYM5105A Research project in history part 1 (12 points) in the first semester and HYM5105B Research project in history part 2 (12 points) in the second semester)

* Only students with a credit average may undertake the 24 credit point research project. There is potential to fast track course completion if the research project is taken in summer semester.

Alternative exit(s)

Students may apply to exit after successful completion of:

  • 24 points with a Graduate Certificate in Arts.
  • 48 points with a Graduate Diploma in Arts.


Master of Oral History and Historical Memory