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The Australian National University

Masters Program

Biography allows us to explore some of the most fascinating questions of human existence. How do we come to be who we are? What is the essence of a life and character, and can we as biographers really know that essence? How are narratives of lives shaped by differences of culture, class or gender? Biographical work helps us understand our history in new ways, and can cast fresh light on whole realms of political and social change. Not surprisingly, biographical approaches are growing ever more popular in a wide range of fields, from history to heritage, politics to art.

In 2007 the Gregory Report on the future of the ADB recommended that the new National Centre of Biography at the ANU train biographers through graduate programs.

As well as offering a PhD program, NCB staff have developed a range of masters courses. At first these were part of a stand-alone Master in Biographical Research and Writing (2010-2013). To ensure viability of enrolments, the courses were incorporated into the Master of Liberal Studies (Biographical Research and Writing) in 2014. From 2016, the courses are part of the Master of Digital Humanities and Public Culture.

The program is relevant for graduates wishing to undertake a specialist postgraduate program in biography, professionals working in a variety of cultural institutions who are finding biography to be of increasing relevance to their professional practice, independent scholars wishing to pursue biographical projects, intending PhD students interested in undertaking postgraduate research in biography, and anyone wishing to broaden their knowledge and understanding of past lives.

Graduates of the program may go on to careers in writing and publishing biography, in the editorial and publishing worlds, in cultural and visual arts, in the public history and heritage sector, in film, radio and television, in education, or in the library and archives sector.

Course Program

 Four specialist courses are offered by the NCB in Biographical Research and Writing:

HIST 8010 Biographical Practices
HIST 8011 Writing Biography
HIST 8004 Biographical Research Project
HIST 8013 *ADB Internship

*The ADB Internship offers students a chance to work with ADB staff, and research and write an ADB entry and a thematic essay which may be published on the ADB's website.

The courses are available online and run for approximately ten weeks.


For information on fees see

Updated: 25 November 2016/ Responsible Officer:  Director, NCB / Page Contact:  Web Publisher