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. The majority of Arts minors require 75 points of study (usually 6 subjects) for attainment. This means out of the 300 point program, you have the opportunity to achieve two majors in your course as well as a minor. You will also complete breadth studies and other complimentary Arts subjects.
Completing your minor
If you are taking Environmental Studies as a minor, you must complete:
- 12.5 points (usually one subject) of level 1 compulsory subjects and 12.5 points of level 1 elective subjects or one Arts Foundation subject (usually taken at first year)
- 37.5 points (usually three subjects ) of level 2 and 3 compulsory subjects
- 12.5 points (usually one subject) of level 2 and 3 Geography elective subjects
Breadth is a unique feature of the Melbourne curriculum. 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 minor
Explore the subjects you could choose as part of this minor.
Complete one of these subjects or one elective subject.
- Identity 12.5 pts
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 12.5 pts
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.
- Power 12.5 pts
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 12.5 pts
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.
- First Peoples in a Global Context 12.5 pts
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.
- Representation 12.5 pts
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.
Complete one of these subjects or one Arts Foundation subject.
- Anthropology: Studying Self and Other 12.5 pts
Anthropology explores the different ways people live their lives. In this subject, an introduction to foundational knowledge in the discipline, you will be exposed to a variety of social and cultural forms around the world and the methods and theories developed to understand them as diverse expressions of a shared human condition. Topical issues that will be encountered include how different peoples around the world experience and react to pleasure, suffering and death; use ritual, religion and magic to understand and change their worlds; organise their sexual and family lives and their friendship networks; create and maintain their identities; and maintain and resist the relations of power in which they are all enmeshed. Comparative ethnographic examples will illustrate a range of disciplinary concerns in anthropological research ethics and practice, the dynamic interaction between processes of order and change in social life, and its effects on how people experience the different worlds they inhabit.
- International Politics 12.5 pts
This subject provides students with an introduction to the actors, institutions, dynamics and key debates that make up contemporary international politics. It equips students to 'go behind the news' of world affairs and understand the deeper structural and political changes and challenges confronting states, citizens and non-state actors in our increasingly interconnected world. Topics covered include the changing nature of war; terrorism; nuclear proliferation; great power rivalry; and the roles of the EU, the US, China and India in international politics; human rights; humanitarian intervention; trade liberalisation and its critics; global inequality; climate change; and the refugee crisis. The topics will be used to demonstrate the relevance of competing theories of international politics, including realism, liberalism and critical theories (such as Marxism and feminism).
- Famine: The Geography of Scarcity 12.5 pts
There are over 800 million people in the world who are chronically malnourished, and world hunger is rising. Yet the world already produces enough food to feed 1.5 times the global population. This subject explains the physical and social drivers of hunger, famines, and related crises in social-ecological systems. It proposes theories that explain famines and crises of scarcity, and tests these with evidence and case studies. In this way the subject introduces key issues, concepts, and theories central to geography, development, environmental studies and environmental science. The subject is interdisciplinary, providing students with a broad range of knowledge and analytical tools. Specifically, the subject draws together science and social science, introducing students to multiple disciplinary knowledge and practices.
Complete these subjects.
- Society and Environments 12.5 pts
This subject aims to think critically and rigorously about the relationship between social and natural worlds. Its primary purpose is to question the idea that the environment exists outside of, and independent from, the realms of science, culture, politics and economy. Students will be introduced to different conceptual frameworks for understanding the environment as a social entity; to the processes by which capitalism and science structures social and environmental relations; and to alternative modes of living in, and thinking about, the environment. These broad themes will be addressed through engaging examples from Australia and beyond. Particular attention will be given to the concept of 'wilderness'; the postcolonial nature of the zoo; ecotourism; the politics of visualising nature (e.g. through wildlife documentary); the 'new natures' of genetic modification; and ideas about 'environmental justice' and ‘climate crisis’.
- Environmental Politics and Management 12.5 pts
This subject explores a range of contemporary environmental problems in Australia and internationally. It uses case studies to understand the following: the history and emergence of the issues; the key actors who engage with and manage these issues; and the political dynamics and strategies for governance. The subject examines the multiple dimensions (scientific, socio-cultural, economic, political) of environmental issues and the forms of knowledge and types of power that construct and mediate people’s relationships with the environment. Students should become familiar with the factors that lead to environmental conflicts and the mechanisms used to contain or resolve them, and be able to interpret them in the context of broader questions relating to environmental governance and sustainability.
- Sustainable Development 12.5 pts
Everyone knows what ‘Sustainable Development’ is, but if you stop to think, it may become less clear. Sustainable development has become a chameleon, suiting different needs and fulfilling different roles for different people with different interests. In this subject, we will explore this appealing-yet-slippery idea with the aim of deciding whether it is a suitable concept with which to explore the cultural, environmental, and economic challenges facing society. Is sustainable development a useful idea, do we need to move on, or can we take it back?
In addition to the debates over sustainable development, this subject will provide students with the skills needed to examine, analyse, and report on challenges related to their interests. At its heart, the subject explores the primary question of sustainable development, which is whether it can be useful in a world (seemingly) approaching numerous catastrophic tipping points. The climate is changing, the oceans are acidifying, the soils cannot keep producing our food, and wealth is being concentrated amongst a smaller and smaller segment of the world. Is sustainable development helpful in understanding, and ideally changing, these trends?
There are also more practical considerations surrounding the debate over sustainable development. Some people might be interested in having a greater impact on the world through development projects, micro-credit, or volunteering. Is sustainable development helpful? Can the concept help individuals seeking to improve our world (or at least trying)? Does it help ensure that their efforts are beneficial and not perverted by opposing interests and processes?
It is also worth considering whether sustainable development might not be better thought of as an analytical framing: as a way of pulling apart problems or projects in order to better understand or assess their impact on ecological sustainability, development, or economics? Is sustainable development an analytical tool for making sense of ‘wicked’ problems?
In this subject we will review the history of sustainable development, which draws together literature from Geography, Sociology, Engineering, Psychology, Economics, and the Sciences. We will explore critiques of sustainable development, and force ourselves to consider whether it is possible, practical, or even useful in the ‘real world’. We will explore several key challenges, using sustainable development as a lens or framing. And finally and most creatively, we will attempt to reinterpret sustainable development in a world of growing inequality.
For more information see: http://briansresearch.wordpress.com/teaching/sustainable-development/
Complete one of these subjects.
- A History of Nature 12.5 pts
This subject discusses central topics in human understandings about their environment in the Western world, particularly over the last 500 years. As Europeans began to venture out of their continent in the 15th century, they discovered new environments that challenged their received wisdom about themselves and their relationship to nature. Modern Science with the inherent idea of a mastery over nature is an outcome of this process. We will trace how in this history different interpretations of 'nature' have shaped science and have been shaped by science in return, including topics such as taxonomy, gardening, theories of life, and the rise of environmentalism. This subject should be of interest to students who would like to learn more about the origins of the environmental sciences, the dominance of scientific understandings of nature, and our ongoing attempts to live within a changing environment.
- Africa: Environment, Development, People 12.5 pts
This subject introduces students to the physical environment, history and development challenges facing contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa. Students will examine in detail intellectual and ethical debates surrounding the strategies undertaken by postcolonial African states and the overseas development “industry” to tackle poverty, inequality, environmental change and the colonial legacy. Students will consider how Africa’s problems are portrayed and understood by the rest of the world. Topics may include: the physical environment and competing understandings of environmental change; the history and governance of the continent; regional case studies (West Africa and the D.R. Congo); agrarian transformations and rural livelihoods; development projects and rise of the NGO; military conflict and mineral wealth; hunger, famine, and the controversies of the relief industry; forestry; wildlife conservation; and urban geographies.