Understanding The Life Course

Subject SOCI40003 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 27-Jul-2015 to 25-Oct-2015
Assessment Period End 20-Nov-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 07-Aug-2015
Census Date 31-Aug-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 25-Sep-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week for 12 weeks.
Total Time Commitment:

Total of 170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Sociology at undergraduate level

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Dr Ashley Barnwell



Subject Overview:

This subject introduces a life course approach to social issues. Life course research is a relatively new and innovative approach in the social sciences which has developed in recent decades. It brings back in a time dimension into social research and systematically links social changes on the macro level to individual experiences on the micro level. The aim of the subject is to give students a good understanding of how our life and our identities are shaped by social institutions and our experiences. The subject will introduce key concepts such as ‘cumulative (dis)advantage’, ‘linked lives’ and ‘biographical action’. It will also demonstrate how a life course perspective can be used to advance our understanding of social issues.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject students will be able to:

  • Have a good understanding of key concepts of biographical and life course research;
  • A good knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of life course and biographical approaches in sociology;
  • Take on a biographical/life course perspective to analyse social issues;
  • Understand social processes in a life course perspective;
  • Critically consider how the social is constituted and reproduced during the course of one’s life;
  • Use the life course/biographical approach to critique social research and social policy.

A 1500 word preliminary essay (30%) due mid-semester, and a research essay of 3500 words (70%) due in the examination period.

Hurdle Requirement: This subject has a minimum Hurdle Requirement of 75% tutorial attendance. Regular participation in tutorials is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Reading material will be made available online via the subject's LMS site.

Recommended Texts:

For a first introduction: Heinz, W.R., Huinink, J., Swader, C.S., Weymann, A. 2009: General Introduction. In: W.R. Heinz, J. Huinink, A. Weymann (eds.): The Life Course Reader. Individuals and Societies Across Time (pp.15-30). Frankfurt/M., New York: Campus.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

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

On completion of this subject students should;

  • devleop research skills, through the competent use of library and other information sources, and the definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research;
  • have an understanding of the social, ethical and cultural contexts of research;
  • developm critical thinking and analysis skills, through recommended reading, essay writing, and seminar discussion, and by determining the strength of an argument;
  • develop skills in written and oral communication, time management and planning, and group work, through completion of course requirements;
  • have the capacity to think in theoretical terms, through class requirements and engagement with theories and methods of the social sciences;
  • have the capacity to think creatively, through course work and course discussion, and by critical analysis of competing arguments.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Social Policy
150 Point Master of Social Policy
200 Point Master of Social Policy

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