Learning Cultures: Minds, Ideas, Objects

Subject UNIB20004 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 1-hour lecture for 12 weeks and 1 x 2-hr tutorial per week for 11 weeks
Total Time Commitment:

Total time commitment 102 hours





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Robyn Sloggett rjslog@unimelb.edu.au

Subject Overview:

Objects are often used as a focus for stories about major cultural, social and historical events (for example bestselling novels, The Hare with Amber Eyes and People of the Book, or exhibitions such as Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs). The University of Melbourne holds similar treasures which, in this subject, are used to look at the ways in which disciplines including physics, chemistry, archaeology, history, economics, law, music and medicine use objects as evidence to support a hypothesis or for education programs. This subject introduces students to ways in which cultural objects can be used in developing cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary research methodologies, and shows how narratives based on objects can be used to strengthen activities such as developing legal cases, building interest in an academic paper, and articulating and discussing complex and difficult issues in an accessible way. Visits to the University’s collections and major collecting institutions in Melbourne demonstrate the nature of interdisciplinary collaboration and the potential of material culture for research and problem solving.


On completion of the subject students should:

  • be familiar with a range of leading interdisciplinary research
  • understand the role and value of cross-cultural engagement (across professional, disciplinary and social cultures)
  • appreciate the potential for University research to contribute to communities and industries, engendering in students a sense of value of industry links in education and research
  • recognize the value of objects and collections as a source of information for research and teaching, that complement textual sources
  • understand procedures for access and the interpretation of objects and collections
  • build skills in writing for varying audience and contexts

One 1500 word assignment due mid-semester (40%) and one 2500 word research essay due at the end of semester (60%).

Hurdle requirement: students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day; after five working days, no late assessment will be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available online.

Recommended Texts:

MACGREGOR, N. (2011). A history of the world in 100 objects. [Bath, UK], BBC.

DE WAAL, E. (2010). The hare with amber eyes: a hidden inheritance. London, Chatto & Windus.

ZABLE, A. (2011). Violin lessons. Melbourne, Text Publishing.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of the subject students should have developed the following generic skills: Flexible thinking Verbal and written communication skills An ability to present ideas in coherent ways. An understanding of the importance of ethical research

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