• Offered by School of History
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject History
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Melanie Nolan
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2017
    See Future Offerings

The course will begin with an exciting opportunity to hear established biographers discuss the issues they faced in writing particular biographies and how they dealt with the challenges.  At the same time students will also consider the growing body of work by biographers reflecting upon these issues.  As Ray Monk and others have pointed out, some of the same questions that Dr Samuel Johnson addressed in his two famous essays on biography Rambler (1750) and Idler (1759) are still relevant: Is biography fiction? Who deserves to have a biography written of them; and how does one deal with multiple biographies on the one subject? What details are appropriate to be included in a biography and how does a biographer deal with the subjects ‘widows’? Is it possible to know with certainty the inner life of another; to what extent are biographers forced to speculate? What are the moral or ethical responsibilities of biographers towards subjects, social sensitivities and the truth?

Students will grapple with the biographical craft themselves by writing a biography. They will choose a biographical subject, plan the research project, choose their research methods, research and write a significant piece of biographical research.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. Design an original biographical research project

2. Identify relevant original material for a biographical project, and/or produce relevant materials such as oral history interviews

3. Identify and apply the most appropriate methods of interpretation to the subject

4. Produce an original piece of biographical research to a publishable quality

Indicative Assessment

Participation in online forums 10%

Original piece of biographical research, 10,000 words, 90%. The subject of the research project will be established at the commencement of the teaching period in consultation between the student and convenor.

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


260 hours of total student learning time made up from: a) 5 day intensive held in June/July and; b) the remaining balance of independent student research, reading and writing.

Prescribed Texts

Students will discuss and develop an appropriate reading program with the course convenor.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
12 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

12.00 0.25000
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $6432
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $9180
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
In Person
4377 20 Feb 2017 27 Feb 2017 31 Mar 2017 26 May 2017 In Person N/A
4507 20 Feb 2017 27 Feb 2017 31 Mar 2017 26 May 2017 Online N/A

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