• Offered by School of History
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject History
  • Areas of interest Australian Studies, History, Heritage Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Malcolm Allbrook
    • Dr Melanie Nolan
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

Biography is many things. It is the study of significant and ordinary individuals; it is the study of families and groups; it can shed light on specific historical periods and problems; it can provide a way of accessing individual and collective experience; it can illuminate the whole process of social and historical change. This course challenges students to think critically and creatively about the writing of biography in all its forms. What is the relationship between biography and history, biography and theory, biography and fiction? How do biographical studies incorporate theory? Should historians use different approaches to biography depending on the culture and/or gender of their subjects? How important is the relationship between biographers and their subjects? What special problems face the biographer of living subjects, or subjects in living memory? Through exploring questions such as these, students will develop a critical understanding of the complex issues surrounding the writing of biography.

Learning Outcomes

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

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Describe and assess various approaches to researching and writing biography;
  2. Understand the relationship between biography, history and fiction;
  3. Evaluate new forms of biography and life writing such as those developed through feminist, postcolonial and Indigenous theories and approaches;
  4. Understand the uses of biography and life story in the humanities and social sciences; and,
  5. Demonstrate skills in researching and writing short critical biographical studies.

Indicative Assessment

Participation in online forums, 1000 words (10%) Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3
Critical review, 2000 words (30%) Learning Outcomes 1, 5
Research essay, 3000 words (60%) Learning Outcomes 2, 3, 4, 5

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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130 hours of total student learning time made up over 12 weeks from
a) 6 hours of individual supervision (an average of 1 hour per fortnight);
b) 24 hours contributing to moderated online discussion forums on the basis of assigned readings; and
c) 100 hours of independent student reading, research, and writing.

Prescribed Texts

None. Readings will be provided at the beginning of the course.



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:
6 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.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $3570
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5460
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8521 27 Jul 2020 03 Aug 2020 31 Aug 2020 30 Oct 2020 Online N/A

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