What will I study?
Your course structure
The Bachelor of Arts requires the successful completion of 24 subjects (300-points), including at least one major. Most students study eight subjects each year (usually four subjects in each semester) for three years full-time, or the part-time equivalent.
Most Arts majors require 100 points of study (usually eight subjects) for attainment. This means out of your 300-point program, you have the opportunity to achieve two majors in your course.
Completing your major
If you are taking Asian Studies as a major, you must complete:
- One level 1 compulsory subject (usually first year)
- One Arts Foundation subject
- 37.5 points (usually three subjects) of level 2 elective subjects (usually at second year)
- 25 points (usually two subjects) of level 3 elective subjects (with no more than 12.5 points (1 subject) of optional elective subjects)
- One level 3 capstone subject (usually at third year)
If you are taking Asian Studies as a minor, you must complete:
- One level 1 compulsory subject
- One Arts Foundation subject
- 25 points (usually two subjects) of level 2 elective subjects (excluding HIST20034 Modern Southeast Asia)
- 25 points (usually two subjects) of level 3 elective subjects (excluding HIST30015 & POLS30011)
Breadth is a unique feature of the Melbourne Model. It gives you the chance to explore subjects outside of arts, developing new perspectives and learning to collaborate with others who have different strengths and interests — just as you will in your future career.
Some of our students use breadth to explore creative interests or topics they have always been curious about. Others used breadth to improve their career prospects by complementing their major with a language, communication skills or business expertise.
Explore this major
Explore the subjects you could choose as part of this major.
- Language and Power in Asian Societies12.5
Language and Power in Asian Societies
This subject examines the intimate relationship between language and society in the historical and contemporary contexts of three internationally strategic regions: East Asia, insular Southeast Asia, and the Arabic world. It will explore recurring themes such as the relationship of language to power, hegemony and political struggle. the effect of nationalism on language. language as a means for creating social organisation and hierarchy. the relationship between minority and majority languages and cultures. and the role of the media, popular culture and literacy in contemporary linguistic and social relations.
Who we are and what we do is all tangled up in our identity. This subject considers how identities are constructed and maintained through mediated processes of self and other. The subject investigates the myriad demands and devices that figure in constructing our senses of self and other (including language, leisure, beliefs and embodied practices). By exploring identity in diverse contexts, across time and place, the subject maps varying conceptions of self and other and how these conceptions are constructed and maintained. A key focus is on how these mediated conceptions of self and other are translated into material practices of inclusion, exclusion, discrimination, violence and criminalisation.
Language plays a central role in the central disciplinary areas in the humanities and social sciences. This subject gives students tools for thinking about language in a range of disciplines, including linguistics, history, sociology, politics, literary studies, anthropology, language studies, psychology and psychoanalytic theory. It shows how language can be analysed as a system, but also how language features centrally in politcal and social contexts: for example, in the processing of the claims of asylum seekers, in developing views of ethnicity, race and nation, and in colonialism; and in the construction of gendered and sexual identity. The role of language in the psyche, and the process of acquisition of languages in children and in adults, are also important topics. Knowing how to think about language, and familiarity with the main thinkers who have discussed language in a range of humanities and social science disciplines, provide an indispensable basis for study in any area of the Arts degree.
The idea of power is a way to grasp the character of social relations. Investigating power can tell us about who is in control and who may benefit from such arrangements. Power can be a zero-sum game of domination. It can also be about people acting together to enact freedom. This subject examines the diverse and subtle ways power may be exercised. It considers how power operates in different domains such as markets, political systems and other social contexts. It also examines how power may be moderated by such things as regulation and human rights. A key aim is to explore how differing perspectives portray power relations and how issues of power distribution may be characterised and addressed.
Reason, many believe, is what makes us human. Until recently, most scientists and philosophers agreed that the ability to use the mind to analyse and interpret the world is something intrinsic to the nature of our species. Reason has a long and extraordinary history. We will explore a number of inter-related themes: the nature of reason from Ancient Greece to our contemporary world; the ever shifting relationship between reason and faith; reason's place in the development of scientific experimentation and thinking; shifting perspectives about the uses of Reason and, finally, how reason relates to theories of the mind, exploring the tensions between reason, the passions and the will.
Reason will take you on a journey from Plato's cave to the neuro-scientists' lab. We will visit revolutions in science, thinking and politics. We will explore the impact of some of the great philosophers of history, including Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Bentham, Coleridge, Marx, Nietzsche, Foucault and many more besides. By the end of this subject you will have a deep understanding of the importance of the idea of reason to human history and philosophy. You might, even, be able to answer the question: 'does reason exist?'
Reason is an Arts Foundation Subject and we will argue that understanding the history and philosophy of reason provides great insights into many aspects of the humanities from political philosophy to understanding history. We will, of course, be paying particular attention to the foundational skills that will help you successfully complete your Arts major: particularly critical thinking and argument development.
This subject will provide students with an introduction to the complexity, challenges and richness of Australian Indigenous life and cultures. Drawing on a wide range of diverse and dynamic guest lecturers, this subject gives students an opportunity to encounter Australian Indigenous knowledges, histories and experiences through interdisciplinary perspectives. Across three thematic blocks - Indigenous Knowledges, Social and Political Contexts and Representation/Self-Representation - this subject engages contemporary cultural and intellectual debate. Social and political contexts will be considered through engagement with specific issues and a focus on Indigenous cultural forms, which may include literature, music, fine arts, museum exhibitions and performance, will allow students to consider self-representation as a means by which to disrupt and expand perceptions of Aboriginality.
Humans grapple with representations of themselves and their contexts. They also like to imagine other possible worlds. We use words, language, images, sounds and movement to construct narratives and stories, large and small, about the trivial and the profound, the past and the future. These representations can help us to understand worlds but they can also create worlds for us. This subject explores how different genres such as speech, writing, translation, film, theatre and art generate representations of social life, imagination and the human condition. A key aim of the subject is to develop a critical appreciation of how language, images and embodied gestures are used to construct empowering and disempowering discourses.
- Analysing Indonesia: Concepts and Issues12.5
Analysing Indonesia: Concepts and Issues
This subject is a multidisciplinary introduction to key concepts in the social sciences and cultural studies and their application in the study of modern Indonesia, covering the historical, political, cultural, social, and linguistic factors that have helped shape the contemporary nation-state of Indonesia. The subject should prepare students for research in the field of Indonesian studies. This subject is available as an overseas intensive subject taught in Indonesia. Enrolment is by application and limited to a maximum of 15 students.
- Media and Urban Culture in Asia12.5
Media and Urban Culture in Asia
This subject examines the media in Asian contexts. It will focus on the role of the media in creating and representing politics, social movements, popular expression and economic development. Students will develop an understanding of the interplay between the media and the dramatic changes that have occurred in Asia from the post-colonial and post World War II period through to Asia’s rise to economic, political and cultural prominence in the 21st century. Topics that will be examined include consumerism, identity, urbanisation, with particular emphasis on trends in film, television, music, fashion and urban lifestyle in East and Southeast Asia.
- Asian Century: Meaning and Impact12.5
Asian Century: Meaning and Impact
The emergence of Asia as a global economic force has instigated the discourse of the ‘Asian Century’ in international media and policy papers. This subject will examine to what extent this discourse is in line with developments in the real world, in whose interests the discourse is being used, and what its impact has been both inside and outside Asia. The subject will address the regions, issues and groups and individuals that are being included in the ‘Asian Century’ as well the people and problems that have generally been left out. Topics that are covered include politics, business, culture, society, class, gender, the media, migration and international relations.
- Genders and Desires in Asia12.5
Genders and Desires in Asia
How are genders and desires imagined, performed, reproduced and contested in the diversity of societies and cultures of the Asian region? How does mobility and sociocultural change influence, or impact on everyday notions of gender within Asia, and in discourses about Asia? What is the influence of histories, religions, languages and media on gender and sexualities in the Asian region and Asian diasporas? This subject critically engages with gender and desire in relation to the Asian region by drawing on contemporary gender theories and a diversity of perspectives from the humanities and social sciences. Topics will cover the Asian region and diasporas, with a focus on languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian and Japanese.
- Chinese Studies: Culture and Empire12.5
Chinese Studies: Culture and Empire
This introductory subject examines Chinese society and culture by looking at the relationship between cultural systems and imperial power. It addresses the long-term development of social and intellectual structures in China in relation to empire as a political order and a system of territorial domination. Students should gain a foundation for further study of Chinese society and culture and specific skills in the writing of essays.
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- Indonesian Politics and Society12.5
Indonesian Politics and Society
This unit addresses the politics of modern Indonesia in relation to broader social developments and the changing global context. Students will learn about the evolution of Indonesian politics from the early post-colonial period, through to the authoritarian New Order and the current democratic era. What have been some of the most prominent sources of tensions and contradictions within Indonesian politics? How are they related to broader changes in Indonesian society? How have domestic social and political transformations in Indonesia been intertwined with the changing global political context from the Cold War to the post-Cold War era? How are developments in Indonesian politics and society relevant to the broader region and to Australia?
- China Since Mao12.5
China Since Mao
This subject examines cultural and social tendencies in contemporary China, and shows how they have developed from the socialist system. It analyses the culture of China's different social groups - men, women, young people, workers, farmers, the elites, minorities, intellectuals and business people. It aims to give a sense of the contemporary Chinese cultural landscape and how this has been analysed by scholars.
- Human Rights in East and Southeast Asia12.5
Human Rights in East and Southeast Asia
This subject examines human rights issues in East and Southeast Asia, with some focus on the case of China. The impact of (pre-modern) Confucianism, Buddhism, Islam and other traditions will be assessed on the shaping of human rights discourse in various Asian contexts. An important conceptual issue is the perceived contingent nature of human rights in non-Western locations. Students will be encouraged to investigate case studies drawn from pro-democracy movements, activism against political repression, religious and ethnic discrimination, advocacy for social and civil rights, and resistance to patriarchal systems. The diverse ideas put forward by East and Southeast Asian human rights thinkers will be evaluated as part of an ongoing debate about the dynamic and contested nature of human rights discourse in the modern world.
- Contemporary Korea12.5
This subject is designed for students who are new to Korean studies. It covers a broad range of contemporary Korean affairs, including history, philosophy, politics, security, economy and socio-cultural issues since its independence from Japan in 1945. Each lecture will introduce one thematic issue in contemporary Korea, both South and North, ranging from its colonial and post-colonial experiences, the Korean War, national division and Pyongyang’s nuclear programs to K-pop and multiculturalism in South Korea.
- Modern Southeast Asia12.5
Modern Southeast Asia
From the growing influence of Islam and contemporary efforts to deal with past violence, this subject explores the history and lasting legacies of political, social and cultural change in modern Southeast Asia. Using case studies from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, East Timor and the Philippines from the 19th and 20th centuries we will explore European colonisation, anti-colonial resistance, the Japanese occupation, the Cold War and their impact on the societies of Southeast Asia. We will also examine nationalism, decolonisation, and contemporary issues ranging from ethnic tensions, separatist movements, religious revival, economic globalisation and human rights challenges. The focus of this subject will be the experience of Southeast Asian peoples of key moments in history and of broad social changes. The subject will encompass approaches to social and political history and draw extensively on translated primary documents including memoirs, speeches and literature.
- Identity, Ideology & Nationalism in Asia12.5
Identity, Ideology & Nationalism in Asia
This subject explores the interlocking themes of identity and ideology in a variety of Asian contexts. It examines how the ways in which people define themselves - 'identities'- are affected by socially-structured systems of thought - 'ideologies'. National ideologies and identities from across the Asian region will be explored in conjunction with study of ethnic, religious, class, gender, and regional forms of identity and ideology.
- Asian Religions in Societal Context12.5
Asian Religions in Societal Context
The subject explores the wide variety of Asian religious traditions, from examples of indigenous and folk traditions to analyses of the major world religions originating from Asia. Attention is given to Asian religion’s cosmologies and philosophy of life, their role as a normative foundation of culture and society, and their relevance to politics. Asian religion’s growing popularity in the West will be considered together with the growing influence of Islam and Christianity in Asia, charting historical processes of interaction between civilisations and the contemporary rise of global religions and identities.
- Taiwan & Beyond: Chinese Settler Culture12.5
Taiwan & Beyond: Chinese Settler Culture
This subject introduces students to migration and settlement as major processes in Chinese cultural history. It examines the expansion of Chinese culture beyond its traditional heartlands, taking Taiwan as a key example. Taiwan will be examined alongside other Chinese "settler cultures" for example Singapore, elsewhere in Southeast Asia, or Australasia.
- Classic Chinese Civilisation12.5
Classic Chinese Civilisation
In this subject students will be introduced to the distinctive characteristics of Chinese civilization from a comparative East-West framework. The focus will be on how the ancient Chinese found solutions to universal human problems, such as how to set up social and political organizations, the operations of kinship systems, and the impact of human settlement on the environment. The focus will be on Chinese ideas relating to government, religion, belief systems and law. Students will read and interpret key primary texts in English translation and assess the value of ancient Chinese material culture (including art, technology and architecture) in understanding the past. On completion of this subject students will have an overview of key notions in Chinese civilization and an appreciation of the relevance of these to contemporary beliefs and practices.
- Creative Industries in Indonesia12.5
Creative Industries in Indonesia
This subject focuses on the transforming power of creative arts and communicative technology in social history, with specific empirical reference to modern Indonesia. Students will closely examine the profound social transformation brought about by art, print, broadcasting and social media at a time of global invasion of electronic high technology. Contemporary politics, popular cultures, social networks, urban spaces and creative enterprises will be some of the key issues in the subject.
- Social Problems in Japan12.5
Social Problems in Japan
This subject aims to prepare students for more specialised studies in Japanese society and culture. The subject offers interdisciplinary views of the political, economic, religious and cultural ideologies which foster inequality between different social groups in Japan. Students should become aware of the heterogeneous aspects of Japanese society, as well as the public and private institutions that deal with these issues, such as ethnicity, caste and disability. The subject will also include an examination of the relevant institutions (such as the family registry system, employment protection laws and social welfare programs) which promote or attack prejudice against heterogeneous social groups.
- Indonesian Languages in Social Context12.5
Indonesian Languages in Social Context
This subject focuses on the role of personal, societal, and historical contexts in the use and development of languages in the Indonesian archipelago, focussing on specific Indonesian societies (eg. Batak, Javanese, Maluku) and the Indonesian nation as a whole. The subject engages with issues of language in society including language planning, literacy, politeness, multi-lingualism, interpersonal interaction, traditional and modern communication systems, differences in style according to genre (eg. written and spoken language), function (eg. conversational, ritual, or political language) and social identity (eg. class, ethnic, gender or sexual identification). Students should develop an understanding of the close relationship that social context, interpersonal interaction, and culture have with language form and usage.
- Popular Cultures in Indonesia12.5
Popular Cultures in Indonesia
This subject focuses on two areas, namely the location of a particular study of popular culture within the broader study of cultures, and questions of aesthetic and political values with specific reference to Indonesian contexts. Students will examine critically selected analyses of different genres of popular cultures in Indonesia. The subject will refer to theoretical texts on ideology, cultures, hegemony, identity politics and resistance. Issues of gender, ethnicity and religion will be of importance.
- Corruption in Asia12.5
Corruption in Asia
Corruption is widely considered to be a major obstacle to sustainable economic and social development in Asia. This subject examines the notion of corruption and the analytical frameworks that scholars, policy-makers and activists have used to understand it. It also analyses the nature, magnitude, causes, and consequences of corruption within the region focusing on a set of case studies related to matters such as economic growth, public service provision, the rule of law, and environmental protection. The subject concludes by evaluating alternative strategies for combating corruption within the region.
- The Modern Middle East12.5
The Modern Middle East
This subject is a historical survey of the major events, movements and relationships underlying the making of the modern Islamic and Arab Middle East since the end of the First World War. The subject enables students to understand: the interplay of religion and foreign rule and intervention in shaping the politics and society of the modern Middle East; the development of the different states of the region; the differences between local points of view and those of outside commentators, historians and rulers; and the effects of these changes on the wider population of the various countries.
- Chinese Politics and Society12.5
Chinese Politics and Society
This is a broad, historically-based survey course of Chinese politics. It is designed to offer an overview of and background to, contemporary Mainland Chinese politics and society. It is more historically oriented than many of the other survey courses offered in the Politics program. This emphasis on history is deliberate. We shall begin with the development of the Communist Party and its escape from the Shanghai massacre through to its period of governance in rural China, examining the background to the Long March in the process. This will be followed by a look at the Yan'an period in communist history - a time of ideological reformation and Mao Zedong's rise to power. The experience gained by the Party during this period served as a dream-model of how the country would be run in the future socialist state. This will bring us to the founding of the People's Republic of China in October 1949, and the adoption of the Soviet model of economic planning and governance. The study of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution will focus on the intense, revolutionary and binary politics behind these two campaigns. Then we will look at the reasons Mao initiated these campaigns and why they failed. The transition China has undergone since the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 will form an important part of this course. From a state dominated by a revolutionary politics of commitment China has become a society that is almost entirely market driven. This transition from politics to economics is almost a parable of our post 9/11 times. Chinese politics gives us an opportunity to reflect upon the two types of politics that dominate our world. Chinese politics also gives us a chance to see how one state moved from a social dynamic that was intense, revolutionary and binary in form to one in which money and the commodity dominates. It also allows us to see how a politics of commitment can give way to the appearance of apolitical policy.